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The Science of Loading a Plane and Why Standard Doesn't Seem to Cut It

After you figure out how to get the cheapest possible flight for your next vacation (maybe even in first class), eventually you are going to have to physically get on the plane. For some of us, that can be the most stressful part of the trip. It turns out there are good, bad, and even worse ways to board a commercial airplane. Lots of research has gone into this field of study, including from all the major airlines. A physicist even came up with the most theoretically efficient way to get everyone onboard.



Outside the realm of theory, however, the winning method belongs to Southwest Airlines. They do not assign spots and allow anyone to sit in the seat of their choosing. Interestingly enough, this method led to lower customer satisfaction scores due to the stress involved in picking his or her location. It is also not the best method for groups if they arrive too late.

Ever heard of the “outside-in” method? It is demonstrated in the video above and involves seating the window passengers first. Family members who secure seats next to each other will not be able to board at the same time though.

The biggest takeaway from these findings is that pretty much any method used to board a plane is better than the standard routine (boarding by row), which results in passengers trying to access seats occasionally blocked off by someone already seated and wrangling for overhead space in the same cabinet.

The way we board airplanes makes absolutely no sense | Vox

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