Friday, December 09, 2005

Southwest Gets it Right

One of the things that distinguishes budget airline Southwest from United or American Airlines is that there are no assigned seats. Instead, people can select any seat they like. Now Nature reports that this is actually a more efficient way to fill the plane than reserved seating.
Boarding from the back rows first - typical in classier airlines - is much less efficient. As experience tells us, boarders are frequently held up while those ahead of them block the aisles.

"Back-to-front boarding is bad because it is designed for cardboard-thin passengers, or for the spacious surroundings of the first-class compartment", explains Eitan Bachmat of Ben-Gurion University in Israel.
Even more efficient would be the boarding of passengers seat by seat, but the researchers noted that that would annoy most customers.

Perhaps the major airlines will take this as a lesson, improve their boarding efficiency (and turnaround time), and then reduce their fares - or at least keep out of bankruptcy.

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