Mythbusters Find The Quickest Way To Board Your Flight

  • Sep 21, 2014 9:59am GMT

Airline travel definitely isn’t as luxurious, let alone as comfortable as it was during the golden days of aviation. Airlines have decreased flights and increased the amount of seats on their planes in order to make as much money as possible. Airlines are only making money once that plane is in the air, so down time on the ground is reduced as much as possible.

To minimize time on the ground, airlines schedule quick turns between flights. Your plane arrives at the gate and passengers deplane. There’s a mad dash as the cleaners come on to pick up after the previous flight and caterers bring on more snacks and beverages. Once the gate agent gets the all clear from the flight crew, they begin the dreaded boarding process. Because there is little time between flights, this process needs to be quick and efficient. If you’ve traveled on different airlines, you’ll see that they have different ways they go about boarding passengers. The most widely used being the back to front method.

Well Adam and Jamie of the Discovery Channel’s show Mythbusters wanted to experiment to see if the widely used way was truly the quickest way to get everyone on the plane.

The Mythbusters crew built up a mock cabin inside an old boat storage facility on a nearby naval base. They created an average sized airline cabin with 3 seats on each side and a single aisle. They installed real airline seats and overhead bins to create a semi-realistic environment. Adam and Jamie also brought in real life flight attendants to “work” each boarding scenario. In order to create real life scenarios, they incorporated “wild cards.” These wild cards are passengers that slow up the boarding process including parents with babies, people trying to use the bathroom and business men meticulously folding their jackets.

Then the Mythbusters’ guys began the timed tests. Each test involved a different method of boarding the airplane and had a passenger evaluation. The first scenario began with the standard back to front method. The result was 24 minutes 29 seconds and created a baseline for the following tests. Then they began experimenting with different boarding priorities. Boarding at random but with assigned seats was quicker and had a time of 17:15. The WMA method, prounced wilma, boards window seats first, followed by the middle and then finally aisle seats. This time was even quicker at 14:55 and passenger satisfaction was also higher. The quickest method was the free for all which involved no assigned seats and every boarded at once with a time of 14:07. But the quickest boarding method was actually the least desirable for passengers.

In the end, Jamie and Adam discovered that any other way besides the front to back method is not only quicker but also more desirable to most passengers. But will we see any change in the way airlines board their planes any time soon?

You can watch the Mythbusters episode in its entirety. What experiences have you had as a passenger and what way would you like to see airlines board their aircraft?