Sarah Sheard's Thoughts and Theories

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Suggestion: Airplane Loading

You know how airlines have tried all sorts of schemes to speed up loading airplanes, from letting anyone on in any order, to loading the back first (typical), to letting people choose any available seat (Southwest), to some now trying front and back? Well, I think I have a possibly best way which none have tried:

Load by number of carry-on bags.

Load anyone right away who has no carry-on bags.
Then, load anyone with only one.
Then load anyone with two.
Continue with three, then four, etc. You could even allow an infinite number of carry-on bags in theory, because people with the most bags would get on last, when they know they run the risk of there being no more space for them in the overhead bins.

My idea is likely to work precisely because one of the reasons people rush onto the plane is to grab space for their carry-on bags. If they knew that the space-hogs wouldn't be allowed on until after they get on, then you'd have a very orderly seating of everyone without bags.

Furthermore, I believe this would encourage people to check more bags (carry on fewer) so they could get on faster. This would speed up boarding as well, because if you don't have any, you get on, sit down, and you're in. What currently slows down most boarding is people trying to cram bags into overhead bins.

What do you think?



  • This is a brilliant idea! And it would work because it aligns everyone's self interest.

    Kinky Friedman, the humorist who is currently running for governor here in Texas has a similarly simple and brilliant idea for controlling illegal crossing along the US/Mexico border. He suggests that instead of spending billions on fences, patrols, deportation and other ineffective measures, try aligning the self interests of Mexican government/military officials. Contact the governors and/or generals that control each Mexican state that borders the US. Inform them that an attractive sum of money, say a few mil, has been deposited in a personal account which they will receive after a specified period of time. The only catch is this: $10K will be deducted for every illegal alien who crosses the border from their state. It would work and it would be a lot less expensive than what we're doing now.

    By Blogger Margaret, at 5:47 PM  

  • A friend sent this offline, which I'll post anonymously:

    "Size can be just as much a problem with carry-on bags as number.
    I was once on a flight with a school trip where every student had a largish carryon bag with wheels. The bags were about 2 inches too big to get two bags side by side in the overhead, so each one had to go in long-wise and took up 3/4 of the bin."

    Absolutely, I agree. If a bag doesn't fit in the little bag-simulator, then it counts as 2 bags. "I'm sorry, that's 2 bags. You'll have to wait until people with 2 bags are allowed on."

    By Blogger SarahSheard, at 11:04 AM  

  • I absolutely LOVE this idea. Please write to ALL the airlines and suggest it. It would actually work!

    By Anonymous Marilyn, at 11:56 AM  

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