Boarding Aircraft

Anyone who as an interest in business processes and has spent endless hours in airports will know that the procedures we are forced through when travelling (in particular by air) are laborious and inefficient, and many a time I have redesigned the processes in my mind to be more efficient, traveller friendly, and time saving. So I read with interest the article on a faster way of boarding planes could save time and money (“Please be seated”, The Economist, September 3rd 2011). Of course to many of us this would seem a good way to proceed, and I’m sure I remember Lufthansa undertaking trials of boarding window seats first (although not in alternate rows) more than twenty years ago. However this approach is fatally flawed as it assumes that passengers have the will and ability to be compliant and disregards completely human nature. Why does Dr Steffen think that the lure of making passengers lives easier would be sufficient incentive to change their behaviour when the very same passengers can’t stand behind the yellow line around the baggage carousel when they retrieve their luggage; or think we can stop those that have perfected ‘silent’ seat belt unbuckling to ensure they can be first out of their seat to get to the overhead lockers; and imagine the anxiety of them not being able to stow their luggage in their preferred overhead locker near their seat as the space had been taken up by earlier boarding passengers? It also raises an interesting issue of families being asked to board separately which could be a challenge when small children are travelling. Great idea if it wasn’t for the passengers!

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