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Different Strategies To Boarding Planes

By Expert Author: Steve Robinson

As great as cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, and cheap vacation packages are, fliers are sometimes frustrated when faced with long and seemingly endless lines waiting to board planes.

Airlines want to reduce the time it takes passengers to board planes not only because of passenger irritation when dealing with slow boarding but also because time is money for airlines and planes can only earn money when they are flying.

Generally airlines today allow their first class passengers and elite frequent fliers to board first, followed by passengers grouped from the back to the front or from window seats toward the aisle.

United Airlines in March started using five marked lanes for different boarding groups. It also started using the window to middle to aisle boarding method to cut back on the lines created when someone has to move in order to allow another passenger to sit in a window or middle seat.

American Airlines has started on many of its flights to give early boarding privileges to passengers who will not be using any overhead space.

Some airlines now allow passengers early boarding privileges for a fee. Others, such as Spirit Airlines, charge a hefty fee for carry-on luggage to discourage such luggage and motivate people to pay to check bags. Reducing carry-ons shortens aircraft turnaround times, according to Spirit.

Alaska Airlines in some airports in Mexico and at smaller U.S. airports without boarding bridges, boards passengers from both the front and rear plane doors.

Alaska recently began testing the use of both boarding doors on some planes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport in California. Testing will continue until the end of the year. Though the airline is not reducing the hoped for 10 to 15 minutes off boarding times, the airline claims that dual door boarding is speeding things up a bit. Another benefit is that this new approach is providing passengers, according to Alaska, with a more hassle free flying experience.

Another boarding experiment is using seats that slide out of the way. The “Side-Slip Seat” can be moved a few inches out of the way during the boarding and deplaning process to help widen the isles.

Yet another approach expected to be tested is called the “Jason Steffen approach” where passengers are lined up so that they enter the plane with their seats spaced two rows apart.

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