Gatwick airport is trialling a new way of boarding passengers on planes in order to save time and simplify the process. And it sounds like it might just catch on.
Time definitely doesn’t fly when you’re waiting to board a plane. Standing around in a crowd of people while juggling your passport, carry-on luggage and essential snacks isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. And the worst part is that you never quite know how long you’re going to be waiting for. Then, once you are on-board, it’s another unpleasant experience of squeezing past strangers and getting in the way of others. But now, a new trial is in the works to take these frustrations out of boarding a plane.
Gatwick airport is currently working with EasyJet to try out new ways to board passengers. The aim is to reduce boarding times by about 10% and minimise the awkwardness of getting to your seat.
According to a BBC News report, one of the ideas is to board people in window seats first, starting at the back, followed by middle then aisle seats. Gatwick said that the window-to-aisle seat pattern of boarding is best suited for individuals and business passengers. Groups of people who want to sit together, such as families, will be seated by row, again starting at the back of the plane.
In theory, this means that you won’t have to ask people to move in order to get to your seat.
The two-month trial has already started and Gatwick said one airplane managed to board 158 passengers in 14 minutes. “This is typically two to three minutes better than the usual time,” said a spokesman.
Another part of the trial to speed up the process involves using a digital screen at the gate, which lets waiting passengers know the seat numbers that are ready for boarding. The screen replaces the usual tannoy announcement that tells people which rows are ready for boarding.
This means that you’ll have a specific time for when to stand and start boarding for your seat.
The spokesperson explained: “One challenge in any controlled boarding process is our ability to communicate the pattern to passengers and the willingness of passengers to comply. It is almost impossible to do that effectively through audio announcements.”
Referring to the new digital screen, he continued: “Passengers can be seated until their seat number comes up on the large screen and then board the aircraft without queuing. Some even appear to enjoy it and are calling it ‘bingo boarding’.”
We’re not sure if boarding a plane could ever be described as “enjoyable” but anything that simplifies and speeds up the process is definitely something worth applauding.
Although the trial is only being run from one gate at the moment, it certainly sounds like there’s potential to roll it out.