## RE: How much faster?

The reason that randomization would work better from a strictly conceptual point of view is because if you look at one person’s boarding process, the longest time that they spend stationary is standing in the isle putting things in the overhead bin and whatnot before sitting down. If you load the plane from back to front, you have a much greater chance of these people holding things up.

Now for the Math. Lets say that we have a plane that seats 60 people, 15 rows of 4, with two being on each side. We then divide that plain into 3 "zones," with each zone being 5 rows, numbered with zone 1 in the back and 3 in the front. If you call for zone one, you have a 20% chance of the first person on the plane being from the row in that zone closest to the front of the plane. While they are putting their stuff away and getting ready to sit down, EVERYONE is waiting behind them to sit further back in the plane. So you’ve got 19 people waiting on 1 person in the alotted time. Much like jamming 20 bits through a 1-bit bus.

Now if you seat randomly, and take 33.3% from each zone and make them a part of zone 1, and so on until you’ve got one third of each of the zones from the previous paragraph packed into a zone, you’ve got the chance for at least three people to be putting up luggage at the same time. Now you’ve got 17 people waiting on 3 people to get ready in the alotted time. Now your putting 20 bits through a 3-bit bus, which is 3 times as fast as before!

I’m sure that it is wicked more complicated then that, but that is the basic explanation, at least in my head.

1 Vote
##### The fastest by Brandon

From the end of the Nature article,

Most efficient of all would be to avoid all blocking by boarding passengers in a strict sequence, seat by seat. But most people don’t like to be controlled to that extent, says Skiena. "Airlines would like to turn around their planes as quickly as possible", he says. "But they don’t want to annoy their passengers."

I don’t know that it would annoy passengers that much to do this. There are many different ways to do it, most of which would only require pre-boarding organization. For example, here’s my solution:

Every ticket could have a section and order number printed on it. Fifteen minutes before boarding, section 1, consisting of the window seat passengers only, is called to the pre-boarding area where the passengers are directed to stand on their order number (arranged on the floor in back-to-front order). When they board, section 2 is called (middle seats) and the same process is followed. Section 3 follows with all latecomers going last.

How inconvenient is that, really? You would have to listen for when they call your section, but you have to do that already. You would have to find your order number and stand on it, but that inconvenience is more than compensated for by not having to worry about being first in line or that grandma in front of you with the oversized carry-on bag she can barely lift. (You just know she’s going to be sitting one row in front of you and you’ll be stuck in the aisle waiting while she meticulously re-packs her bag after you break the latch trying to help her get it into the over-head compartment.) The only people who have to climb over anyone are those that miss their section, and when the plane unloads, those who stand up first (on the aisles) are those whose carry-on bags were packed last.

The more I think about this, the more I think it would be worth the rough transition period and the extra pre-boarding organization. I know when I fly, I’d pick an airline that was on-top of things and effective over one that was bumbling but stayed "out of my hair."