With passengers looking for their seats and others putting away their hand luggage, take-off is often synonymous with irritating congestion and delays. But there are faster ways to get on board…

Each time you take a flight, it’s the same old tiresome ritual: you sigh with impatience as you wait to be able to get to your seat. But rest assured: you’re not the only one who finds boarding time interminable and tedious! With this in mind, US magazine MythBusters decided to experiment with different ways of bringing passengers on board (173 people took part in this full-scale test). So how long did it take to get all these passengers settled in their seats?

From the slowest to the fastest process
– 24 minutes: the method most commonly used by the airlines consists of allowing passengers whose seats are located to the rear of the plane to board first, followed progressively by those allocated to the near rows… Surprisingly, this method was shown to be the slowest!
– 17 minutes: the technique consisting of allowing the passengers to board randomly, while keeping their assigned seats, would appear to be a bit faster.
– 15 minutes: “vertical” boarding involves having the passengers enter column by column, i.e. first those with window seats, then those with middle seats and finally those with aisle seats.
– 14 minutes: the prize for boarding speed goes to self-seating. With no specific seats allocated, the passengers board in the order they go through check-in and then sit where they like.

A theoretical method
Finally, one last method appears to be effective… on paper at least. Known as “the Steffen Method”, it also recommends “vertical” boarding, but with an additional degree of choreography: the passengers thus enter from one side of the aircraft at a time, sitting in every other row. While effective, its limitations are clear: not only does it separate families and groups of friends, but it’s also very difficult to implement. So there’s no easy solution yet… All the more so as this waiting time is profitable for the airlines, many of whom offer passengers the option of paying a supplement… for faster boarding!