Friday, June 8, 2012

Airline non-innovation

As mentioned before, getting people on and off of different modes of mass transit adds a tremendous amount of time to the process, not to mention annoyance. One of the many things people hate about air travel is the waiting in line, first to get your boarding pass* then to get through security and finally standing in the unairconditioned jetway and the even stuffier plane itself (not to mention the wait to get off the plane once you've landed)

What if there were a way to cut that boarding time in half?
Kenneth Button, a George Mason University professor of transport economics (and editor of the journal that published Steffen’s 2008 paper). Airlines want a boarding scheme that works for every flight, not one such as Steffen’s that might save time on some flights but cost minutes on others. “They want something that can consistently save two-to-three minutes on every flight,” Button says. In terms of pure speed of cabin loading, Button suggests airlines use both front and rear airplane doors, as some European carriers do.
Actually, since we're talking about a double queue, I would assume it would on average more than double the speed since more people would end up in the faster line..Faster loading and unloading would save the airlines some money and they would greatly improve customer experience.

All of which raises the question: if it's such a great idea, why don't we see twin jetways all over the place? The answer certainly has something to do with up front costs but I think there's a bigger reason. I'll spell out the theory this weekend.

For more airline news, check out this NPR story.

* yes, I know you can print those at home but if you have to check you bags there's no time savings.

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