Gatwick Airport tests a (hopefully) faster way of boarding planes
London Gatwick Airport is starting a two-month test of new methods to speed up aircraft boarding while reducing queues. By combining digital displays with new boarding sequences based on seat number, the goal is to make getting on a plane more efficient and less stressful.
Boarding an airliner is one of the things in life that rates right up there with a tax audit and root canal work. It generally involves sitting or standing about in the waiting area, which is like something out of a coach station, followed by lots of queuing and trying to struggle past crowds in the aircraft aisle as they try to cram very large bags into very small bins.
In hopes of speeding things up without the need to queue, London Gatwick has modeled how people board and is looking at alternatives. At Gate 101, large digital screens have been installed and staff briefed on how to explain the new procedures.
According to Gatwick, a number of sequences will be tested. These include boarding from back to front by seat number with window seats first, middle seats next, and aisle seats last. However, young families and those who need assistance will still be given priority.
The models claim that the new procedures can cut boarding time by 10 percent, though the airport says it will rely on passenger feedback before adopting them generally.
"We want to explore whether boarding by seat number will avoid queues in the gate room and when boarding the aircraft," says Abhi Chacko, Head of Enabling Technologies and Digital Innovation, Gatwick Airport. "Early indications are that this new technique has the potential to reduce the overall boarding time. By communicating to passengers better and boarding passengers by seat number, we also expect to make the whole boarding experience more relaxing and, potentially, prevent large numbers of passenger (sic) rushing forward at any stage."
Source: Gatwick Airport