The Sisyphean Task of Designing a Faster and Better Boarding Process

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In March, American Airlines announced a boarding process with a record nine groups, the last five of which will be for those in the coach cabin.

Also in March, Delta Air Lines announced a new scheme that uses four parallel lanes at the gate. Delta says this will keep passengers out of the walkway between gates and provide a separate queuing area for premium passengers.

One of the more interesting boarding processes was introduced several years ago by KLM: a procedure in which each passenger was assigned a unique boarding number.

One might think that there’s one best answer but apparently that isn’t the case since it has led to a boarding process spoof in a Saturday Night Life skit not too long ago.

The SNL skit, “The Boarding of Flight 314,” documents the boarding process of a mythical Express Air flight. The agents, played by comedian Tina Fey and SNL cast member Taran Killam, announced the start of boarding, which takes place traditionally, with pre-boarding for elderly passengers or those needing special assistance followed by parents traveling with children. First class passengers are boarded next, followed by X-Men first class and X-Men business class, eliciting this comment from a passenger waiting to board: “Honey, they’re a commercial airline, I think they know what they’re doing.”

The increasingly ridiculous boarding groups, which included children with small parents and frequent fly girls, drives home a point, as did one of the final groups, “all Brazilian and Italian passengers,” who were invited to begin “pushing and shoving” and “selectively understanding English.”

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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