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The Best Way to Board an Airplane; It’s Not the Current Method

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, you’ve felt the painful process of boarding airplanes. Airlines generally board in zones, utilizing the back-to- front method, but according to an episode of Mythbusters, there’s a much more efficient and user-friendly way to get everyone ready for takeoff.

In the episode, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman used an empty hangar and built an airplane interior with 173 seats, using real overhead luggage compartments and cabin crew to simulate the process. Passengers joined the experiment, and 5% of them were even instructed to be “problematic” by sitting in the wrong seat, going “upstream,” etc.

Then, the group tried various methods of boarding, including the current back-to-front style. Each method was evaluated on both time and passengers’ rating of the experience. It’s no shocker that the back-to- front method was the slowest, taking 24 minutes and 29 seconds. Customer satisfaction was only 19 out of a total possible 173.

So, what method proved to be the best? The Reverse Pyramid – which is like WILMA (window-middle-aisle), but in sections. This means that passengers start at the back of the plane and take the window seats, and as those fill, the window seats are filled closer to the front of the plane. In a domino effect, the middle and then aisle seats are taken, moving from back-to-front.

The Reverse Pyramid method earned a 113 satisfaction score and only took 15
minutes and 10 seconds.

Check out the episode

Daniella Soloway

Written by Daniella Soloway


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