Board Your Flight in Half the Time—Using Science

Fermilab physicist devises more efficient way onto airplanes
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2011 3:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – Airplane boarding for most of us is one of those dreary, inefficient indignities we are forced to endure as part of modern travel. But for Fermilab astrophysicist Jason Steffen, it was just another problem to solve. After much experimentation, he used the Monte Carlo method of optimization to came up with an algorithm that can cut boarding time in half. The one drawback? It requires boarding in a rather precise order—alternating rows, beginning with window seats on one side, and then the other, reports CNET.

Steffen's paper was published back in 2008, but has been given new life through the online video This vs. That, dramatizing just how much more efficient the Steffen Method can be. In fact, Steffen also showed that even boarding at random would be better than the current system of boarding in blocks. Given how expensive gate time costs at many airports, speeding up boarding is not just academic: It could save airlines $110 million annually per carrier.

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