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Novel method to streamline airlines boarding

Posted on Nov 19, 01:00PM | IANS

Researchers say there is a new way to ensure that boarding a flight is a smooth and enjoyable affair.

Researchers from Curtin and Beihang University, in Australia and China, respectively, claim there is a "third way" to streamline airplane boarding.

Tie-Qiao Tang from Beihang said that while modelling had previously been done on factors such as luggage congestion, routing, and takeoff runway scheduling, his study was the first to look at boarding.

"The increase of the supply of air transportation is much slower than that of its demand," said Tang, the journal Transport Research Part C, reported.

"Thus, in practice, certain conflicts between supply and demand often occur, leading to airline congestions, passenger-luggage congestions and mixed traffic problems," adds Tang.

Researchers created models using the pedestrian flow theory, comparing three styles of boarding: Random boarding; the current boarding system of assigned seating; and the new and third way that could take into account what was peculiar to different passengers, including the speed he or she moved at and the luggage carried.

Results showed that random boarding was the most inefficient, with queue-jumping, aisle congestions and jams before the gate as well as between the gate desk and the plane.

Boarding by assigned seating was better, but still inefficient, as only passengers in the front of the queue could board at their "maximum speed". Conflicts occurred over assigned seats too.

In the third and new way, seat numbers could be assigned based on the passenger's optimal speed and the attributes of luggage carried; tickets could be checked automatically using electronic equipment at the gate, thus avoiding slowdown.

The new system proved effective, as congestion could be avoided. There was also no need to overtake a fellow-passenger during boarding. Much time could be saved as there were no jams and no conflicts over seats.

While Tang said no airline had yet agreed to put the theory to practice, he is open to collaborations to make the "third way" a travel reality.