According to a new study by physicist Jason Steffen of the Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics, the most efficient, fastest way of boarding a plane is not by sequential rows but by letting everyone on board at the same time.
From the article on Discover Magazine:
Steffen tested the efficiency of several different boarding procedures by sending 72 luggage-toting passengers into a movie-set Boeing 757. Among the boarding techniques tested was the zone/block style, where passengers fill the plane back to front, one large group at a time; WilMA, or Window, Middle, then Aisle (how the "l" got where it did is a mystery); and Steffen's own procedure (imaginatively called "the Steffen method"), which incorporates both the other two techniques (see chart).
Steffen timed how long it took the passengers to fill the plane under the different boarding procedures and found that the block style takes the longest, falling well behind the uber-sophisticated "random boarding" method -- letting everyone on at the same time. The Steffen method was the quickest because it maximized the number of people who could use the aisle concurrently without crashing into each other.
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