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MythBusters debunks dilemma of how airlines board planes

The Way We Board Planes Is The Worst Possible Method

Air travel can be annoying, and the Mythbusters looked into one reason why.

Turns out the way that most planes are boarded now - from back to front - is the worst!

The team set up a boarding area and even airplane seats to test out its effectiveness.

"There's a backlog of passengers on the gangway. Passengers in aisle seats having to get up to allow access to the middle and window seats."

"The method in use by the majority of airlines is simply not the best available."

The guys used about 200 volunteer passengers to test several methods of boarding. Back-to-front took the longest - almost 25 minutes - and was rated the worst by the passengers.

Other methods proved better - like boarding the window seats first, then the middle, then the aisle. So - why don't airlines do that?

BusinessWeek looked into this in April - and suggested airlines don't have any incentive to improve boarding processes - they profit off them!

Yeah, lots of airlines do let you board first, for a fee.

BusinessWeek also points out that some airlines give priority boarding as a perk to passengers who fly with them frequently or use their airline credit cards.

It's a cheap way to keep customers happy.

A few years back an astrophysicist even developed a super-fast way of boarding that involves alternating rows, but airlines haven't implemented it.

Check out the Mythbusters website for more on this myth, though you might just get even more frustrated.

Join the discussion

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msw368 August 22 2014 at 10:12 AM

If people were forced to check all baggage, the problem would be solved.

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3 replies
ftuna2u2 August 22 2014 at 9:30 AM

They forgot to mention the people who are rude, and people who are just clueless. Doesn't matter what system they come up with, flying will always be a pain.

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3 replies
reedonald August 22 2014 at 10:10 AM

As long as airlines charge extra for certain seats and board accordingly, there is absolutely no incentive for them to change. What do they care if it takes 30 minutes to board passengers vs. 15 minutes for the most efficient. And its not like passengers have anything else to do, especially since they probably have been in the airport for 90 minutes or more.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
3 replies
ge944 August 22 2014 at 10:28 AM

Problem is that the best systems require discipline on the part of the pasengers and we know how that goes

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3 replies
mnclearwater August 22 2014 at 9:46 AM

I have flown alot in the last few years and I have NEVER been on a flight that loaded from the rear. EVERY flight I have EVER been on loads from the front. !st Class, Business and so on. But one thing is obvious there has got to be a better way.

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6 replies
Sam and Pat August 22 2014 at 9:08 AM

Having flown somewhat regularly for 55+ years, I couldn't disagree more! The experiment did not take into account the people who bring almost everything they own as carry-on baggage, and take forever trying to stuff them in overhead bins! As a result, the airlines that utilize the window, aisle, row seat boarding system take much longer due to the people agonizing over packing their luggage into overhead bins, while the back to front system allows people to keep boarding forward regardless!

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2 replies
Kel Sam and Pat August 22 2014 at 10:42 AM

Did you watch the episode? I did. Everyone that was boarding had luggage to put in the overhead bins so that was taken into account. The time differences were pretty drastic...so even if there were people who brought extra it was still quicker and more streamlined than the back to front method.

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Pepi Sam and Pat August 22 2014 at 12:36 PM

I agree. Allowing window seats to board first, would only allow them to fill the overheads. By the time the aisle seat passenger enters, there will be little to no room for the carry on in the overheads near your seat.

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patrol1690 August 22 2014 at 11:59 AM

A big part of the problem comes from those who insist on carrying everything on the plane, including large suitcases and garment bags, trying to get the into the overhead storage while standing in the aisle, holding up everyone else.

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1 reply
Pepi patrol1690 August 22 2014 at 12:42 PM

Agree. They can't even pack their own things in overhead and I always have to help them to expedite the boarding.

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skydrop007 August 22 2014 at 12:04 PM

Liberals like the way it is now as they can board as small children.

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7 replies
rude August 22 2014 at 11:55 AM

I used to fly 1-4 times a week. If the airlines would only allow ONE carry-on, and that would include briefcases and shoulderbags, passengers would not be scrambling to find space in the overheads. If you allow First Class to board after those with children or special needs, then have the guts to tell them to SIT DOWN and stay put while the others board. THEN there should be very little problem boarding from back to front.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
theomegaman72 August 22 2014 at 1:34 PM

Guess they are running out of myths

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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