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A Better Way To Board Airliners

Whenever I travel, I can’t help but notice the different ways that airlines load passengers on their planes.

That first sentence isn’t really true. Whenever I travel by plane, I can’t help but notice the different ways that airlines load passengers on their planes.When I drive to my destination, I’m indifferent to anything the airlines do.

Back then, airlines weren’t good at boarding passengers. Some things never change. (image by Bill Larkin CCbySA2.0)

But the ways airlines have us board flights are nearly universally consistent in two respects – they’re inefficient and dull.

It seems to me that lining people up in the order in which they’ll be sitting, from the back of the plane to the front, and then sending that line on to the aircraft would get passengers aboard in the fastest way possible. Any flyer who boards a flight out-of-order, thus gumming up the process for those behind them, would be subject to verbal abuse by flight attendants and fellow travelers.

Unfortunately, I don’t foresee my line idea being picked up by one of the major carriers. Companies are a little nervous about their employees berating customers. That’s too bad. People who screw up air travel for the rest of us by being bad at getting on airplanes deserve that and worse.

The Next Innovation In Air Travel

Since we’re not going to get my superior way of loading planes implemented, the least the airlines can do for us is to make boarding interesting. I’ve got a proposal that’ll make that happen.

Right now, airlines board their first class passengers first. They follow them with their frequent fliers – in descending levels of importance. And then they have the rest of us board, grouped in clusters that only the airlines understand the significance of. I’m proposing that we end separate boarding of all those groups after first class – the frequent fliers, the boarding “zones” that have nothing to do with where someone will sit.

There will need to be a way to prevent a stampede. What I suggest is that the gate agents board passengers according to individual traits. These qualities would change for every flight, so each passenger would not know when they were boarding each flight. Let me give you an example of how this might be done:

We’ll now begin boarding Flight 1341 for Phoenix with our first class passengers.

(pause as the rich folks board)

OK, we’ll continue with…vegetarians. All vegetarians may board flight 1341.

(pause while the herbivores board the plane)

Next to board 1341… non-swimmers. If you’re afraid of water, step aboard.

(pause to allow the aquaphobes time to be seated)

Flight 1341 is now open to people who wear glasses. Contact lens folks, sorry this isn’t your day.

(pause as the astigmatics find their way down the ramp)

Thank you for your patience. Flight 1341 is now open to any of you who are mammals. Last call for Phoenix!

(at this point everyone who paid attention in elementary school science knows they can board)

He boarded with the bow tie group (image pubic domain)

The potential categories are endless – people wearing red, musicians, those who’ve received a traffic ticket in the last year, Germans, Brazilians or anyone with a Brazilian, anyone who likes Necco Wafers. Constantly changing the groups will keep passengers attentive and make the process smoother.

So, Airlines, Which Of You Is Going To Start?

This system will be both enjoyable for the passengers and efficient for the airlines. It will require passengers to be honest about their qualities and to speak up when they know someone is lying to board sooner. I’m willing to do both of those things to see this system implemented. I will speak up if I see you eating a ham and cheese and then boarding with the vegetarians.

Switching up the categories will keep the boarding process fresh; it is hard to imagine a process less fresh than boarding groups like “President’s Preferred”, “Chairman’s Diamond”, and “Zone 3”. It is time for a change, airlines. This is the change that will make flying fun.

Ok, that last sentence isn’t true. This isn’t the change that will make flying fun. More knee and elbow room will make flying fun, but we all know that isn’t happening. This is the next best thing. Let’s make it happen.

I can’t wait to board with the retired hostage negotiator group.

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8 Comments on “A Better Way To Board Airliners”

  1. Sandy says:

    I have law at thought shorter people should board first…. being a tall person myself, I think this is a generous move.

  2. mikegee64 says:

    My issue with boarding and unboarding a plane has always been the number of doors they use to do so. One. Over 100 passengers, one door. And the whole time, the stewardesses are trying to get everyone to hurry so you can take off on time.

    Once everyone is on the plane, they then get on the microphone and start bragging about the fact that there are 7 more doors to the plane, most of which are much more conveniently located to you seat than the one they used.

    When you land, they tell you to remain seated until they arrive at the gate, but they fail to mention that once at the gate, they are going to let everyone stand with backs and necks curved at painful angles for 5 minutes before they open the ONE door there are going to use.

    We all know from the safety cards that not only are there many other doors, but they are also equipped with really cool, inflatable slides! They should use those! Who doesn’t want to try that? No one!

    So, when they board the plane, they should board it based on how you want to get off the plane later. All those who want to SLIDE off the plane gets called first. This would be 90% of the passengers. They walk out and have a choice of seven different doors to go through. The First Class passengers would be able to board at the same time through the walkway along with the people needing special assistance. Whole plane loaded in 4 minutes.

    When the plane lands and gets to the gate 6 of the doors immediately open and the slides deploy. Most of the passengers get off via the 6 slides while the walkway is brought to the plane. (I say 6, rather than 7, because the 7th door would be stairs to allow for people who slid off and realized they left something on the plane and for people who thought the slide was cool and want to do it again.

    I am a genius.

    • omawarisan says:

      Maybe the slides should go in to the plane?

      • mikegee64 says:

        No, that would be counter productive. Just use all of the doors, and steps. Slides might force too many people on to the plane too fast which would cause delays and broken limbs.

        Eight doors on the plane, eight zones, eight very short, rapidly moving lines to get on. Upon landing, one walkway as normal, and seven slides. Loading and unloading together will take less time than either separately.

  3. Linda Sand says:

    When we arrive at our destination I always let my seat mates off then sit back down to wait until last. No sense making those with tight connections wait for slow me to deplane.

  4. Haha excellent. My boyfriend had what he called ‘an excellent idea’ which was that people essentially get into their correct seats in the waiting area and then the rows are moved ski lift like into the plane. Obviously this will take a slight re-jig of plane and airport design so you’re plans probably best for now.


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