One of the most hackle raising moments while traveling by plane is the mandible gnashing period while we stutter in the aisle waiting for our fellow passengers to stuff their oversized floral bags into the overhead bins.
To that end, US Airways hired engineers Professor Ren
Villalobos and graduate student Menkes van den Briel who developed a system designed to reduce the amount of interference between passengers while finding their seats. Called the “reverse pyramid,” it has ticket holders, “simultaneously [load] an aircraft from back to front and outside in. Window and middle passengers near the back of the plane board first; those with aisle seats near the front are called last,” reports Wired.
- “US Airways’ Lindemann says the airline has enjoyed significant improvements since implementing the reverse pyramid in 2003, including a 21 percent decrease in departure delays in the first three months following the system’s launch, and a two-minute reduction in average boarding time.”
Bully for them. The most efficient system, however, may rely on the flock dynamics given to us by Mother Nature, as seen in Southwest’s lack of assigned seating.
- “Van den Briel says that while Southwest’s open seating might seem like an invitation for chaos, it actually illustrates a tendency among passengers to self-organize when left to their own devices. “Passengers who are free to sit anywhere usually do a good job staying out of each other’s way,” he explains. “Without having studied it in detail, I would imagine that an open boarding model is faster than assigned seating.”
Click on “See How it Works” on the left in the Wired article to see an animation of how the different methods play out.