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Why Have Boarding Times Increased Again?  
User currently offlineBrick From United States of America, joined Aug 1999, 1578 posts, RR: 7
Posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2230 times:

I just finished a busy round of business travel and I've noticed these past few weeks that airlines have increased the amount of time boarding begins before departure. Why does it take 40 minutes to load a 737-300 now?

Great Lakes Airlines now starts boarding 30 minutes before scheduled departure for the Beech 1900's. That seems excessive. Ten minutes before boarding all 19 of us passengers were on board and ready to get, but we had to sit for another 20 minutes before we actually left the gate. The last time I flew Great Lakes was back in late 2002 and they boarded 15 minutes before departure. And that was still plenty of time.

United seems to do a 40 minute boarding regardless of the aircraft type. It wasn't that long ago it was 30 minutes and we had about a 50/50 chance of actually leaving on time. I'm afraid with the new 40 minute boarding time people are going to take their candy-ass sweet time even more now.

So why are boarding times increasing again??

My father works for American Airlines and he used to bring home Boeing magazines and publications. I remember reading about a study Boeing did about why boarding times are increasing (I also remember their study on electronic interference that I wished I had saved the article). Boeing noted that in the 1970's through 1980's it would take on average about 17 minutes to load a DC-8. Since 1990, that time has doubled despite the fact aircraft haven't gotten much bigger. Boeing ran all kinds of simulations and tests with people in cabin mock-ups. They varied the order in which people boarded the plane, people with window seats first, aisle seats last, and etc. They didn't allow a volunteer to do the test more than twice because they didn't want to skew the results.

What did Boeing conclude? Boarding times have not increased because changes in the gate areas, aircraft, or other equipment. They conclued the increased boarding times were due to "Human Behavior Factors". In other words people didn't do what they were asked to do (board only when their row was called) and people would often impede the boarding process because of their luggage (taken two steps into the aircraft and stuffing their many bags in the overhead bin, then proceeding to the rear of the aircraft).

This study was done in the late 1990's and Boeing concluded that there was nothing they could do to decrease boarding times from an aircraft design point of view. Boarding times have increased again. What can be done about it?

As a frequent traveler, I'd like to see the following:

(1) People take less stuff on the aircraft or have the carry on bag policies enforced by the airline. I think this is the number 1 problem...people trying to carry too much shit on the aircraft. Airlines are afraid to do anything about it because they don't want to upset the customers. These people block the aisle for far too long of a time because they are trying to cram everything in the bins rather than use the underseat storage.

(2) The gate agents need to enforce the boarding order. How many times have you seen everyone jump up when the first boarding group is called? Again, the airline (gate agents) need to grow a spine and not board the people when their row hasn't been called. At LAX last month, I overheard two guys about to get on my United flight say "We can board whenever we want...what are they going to do about it?" I wanted to say something to them, but I didn't. It seems like everyone else had the same idea. When seating area 1 was called, I could see a lot of seating area 3's and 4's immediately get on the plane. Because the gate agents didn't stop them there was a major log jam in the aisle of the plane.

(3) People need to take their assigned seats. Several times last month on my flight somebody would just plop down in a seat that wasn't assigned to them (usually because they knew they were assigned a worse seat). When the person who actually is supposed to sit there comes on board, there is this delay of several minutes while everyone tries to reshuffle/backup the boarding line due to one idiot.

It's probably going to get worse before it gets better...

Mark Abbott
Denver, CO


A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2185 times:

(1) People take less stuff on the aircraft or have the carry on bag policies enforced by the airline. I think this is the number 1 problem...people trying to carry too much shit on the aircraft. Airlines are afraid to do anything about it because they don't want to upset the customers. These people block the aisle for far too long of a time because they are trying to cram everything in the bins rather than use the underseat storage.

Actually, TSA has helped somewhat with this. Now, no passengers are allowed to travel with more than one carry on and one personal item (suitcase and laptop, carry-on and purse, etc). The real problem is that people try to take bags on that are too large for the overhead bin, and so they spend five minutes trying to stuff their bag into before succeeding or giving up and heading forward to gate-check the item (meanwhile blocking the aisle).

Some airports have covers over the intake of the x-ray machines that prevent oversized bags from getting through there. Where that isn't done, the airline should have ground crews gate-check oversized items.

(2) The gate agents need to enforce the boarding order. How many times have you seen everyone jump up when the first boarding group is called? Again, the airline (gate agents) need to grow a spine and not board the people when their row hasn't been called.

As much as the gate agents would love to do that, there are a couple of problems with it. First, there isn't time to check the actual seat. Mostly, the agent makes sure the person with the ticket matches the ID. Second, many passengers would be very upset with the gate agent for doing that, sue the airline for "emotional distress," and the whole thing would look bad on national television. Row calling is done as a courtesy, and the hope is that people will be courteous enough to follow it.

I wanted to say something to them, but I didn't.

What you could have said was, "The reason they call rows is to ensure that people get on the plane quickly and so we can depart on time. When people get on whose row hasn't been called, it slows down the process and increases the likelihood that we'll be late departing. If you want to leave late, then get on any time you like. But if you do, don't complain when we don't leave on time."

(3) People need to take their assigned seats. Several times last month on my flight somebody would just plop down in a seat that wasn't assigned to them (usually because they knew they were assigned a worse seat). When the person who actually is supposed to sit there comes on board, there is this delay of several minutes while everyone tries to reshuffle/backup the boarding line due to one idiot.

Some people simply don't understand how seating works. This is especially true for older passengers who have not flown much and for the "Learning Disabled". There are also those people who are simply @$$holes, but they are only part of the problem. Airlines could fix much this problem with this simple announcement:

"If you have trouble locating your seat, please ask a flight attendant to help you."

Unfortunately, most people think they are incredibly smart (this is especially true for people who have never flown before) and never listen to announcements or follow directions.

Personally, I'm a well-versed traveller and I've worked for two different airlines. I still listen to announcements, and I only go when my seat is called.



Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineCmckeithen From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 617 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2153 times:

What really fumes me is when we have pax's that arrive late after everyone is seated and ready to go and they STAND and playaround with thier carryon when everyone is ready to go then they have the nerve to complian when we dont leave on time. People like that should not be allowed to board the aircraft. It should be 20mins before the flight is ready to leave they close the gate.

User currently offlineCmckeithen From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 617 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2149 times:

I loved the announcement the flight attendant made to the pax's on the WN flight that caught alot of heat. They arrived VERY late however the WN was nice enough to allow them on then they have the nerve to take their sweet old time flinding a seat. If I was in that flight attendants position I would have made the same annoncement.

User currently offlineSsides From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4059 posts, RR: 21
Reply 4, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2114 times:

I agree with you on the late arrivals issue 99% -- just remember that many people are late due to their connections, which can't really be described as their fault.


"Lose" is not spelled with two o's!!!!
User currently offlineTBCITDG From Australia, joined Jan 2004, 921 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2091 times:

I think that it is a good thing that boarding times have increased in the past. The number of late departures due to pax not boarding on time can be reflected back to a number of issues. One beign, immigration lines that go on forever, last minute duty free purchases, stand-by passengers that are the last to receive boarding passes to a particular flight.
Beacause of these reasons, and I am sure that there are more, airlines have felt the need to increase the amount of time needed to board aircraft. At least the delays will decrease.
I think all gates should be sealed off. (Like in SIN, BKK). Once inside the boarding lounge, you cannot leave. It is far easier for staff to track pax down and not have to wait until they board the aircraft.
As for connection times, sometimes it is the passengers fault as they are the ones that made the bookings.If not them, then the travel agents.
The number of times I have landed in LHR and been seated next to pax that leave only 45 min for another International connection is inexcusable!!


User currently offlineNonRevKing From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2044 times:

Boeing noted that in the 1970's through 1980's it would take on average about 17 minutes to load a DC-8. Since 1990, that time has doubled despite the fact aircraft haven't gotten much bigger.

It's because people have gotten proportionally more stupid.

What did Boeing conclude? Boarding times have not increased because changes in the gate areas, aircraft, or other equipment. They conclued the increased boarding times were due to "Human Behavior Factors".

All those great minds at Boeing and they really needed to waste their time on this? Just ask gate agents and flight attendants!

As a gate I always enforced the carry on policy, only let the rows I was calling board, and usually made an announcement something to the effect of "Please don't crowd the gate area, we're boarding by rows today and this will assist in an on time departure".

Some people would try me, and I'd tell them to hang on one second until I called their row. They'd pull some crap like pretending to be disabled, or buddying up with someone with an infant and "help them" into their seats, just so they would board early.

We all have things we'd like to see happen. Unfortunately it never will. People only think of themselves and are immune to considering others. It's sad.

Brian - SPOT THIS!


User currently offlineCmckeithen From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 617 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2032 times:

True Ssides. I overlooked that aspect.

User currently offlineCmckeithen From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 617 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2022 times:

I look at it this way. WN excluded. You have an assigned seat. You know that the plane will not lave w/o you if you are thier on-time. Your seat will not move so just sit back and relax. Even though I am in the first boardind rows to be called I wait until the last few people are in line to board then I get on. It is 110% less stressful.

User currently offlineBobb From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 246 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 1986 times:

How about that people increasingly are getting FATTER. Takes them more dexterity to negotiate through a narrow isle, and more effort to swing their huge bags overhead.


User currently offlineJjbiv From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1226 posts, RR: 5
Reply 10, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 1948 times:

Brick: We board early because customers rate airlines by the (next to meaningless) DOT "+14" OTP rankings. It's like putting salt on eggs; you can always add more, but can't take any off after it's on. Likewise, it's easy to start boarding really early on a perfect flight but impossible to add a few extra minutes at the end if something comes up on a difficult flight and still leave the gate on-time.

joe


User currently offlineNwairlinkfo From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 54 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 1908 times:

That is because passengers can't seem to either A: arrive at the gate at a reasonable time prior to departure. B: Can't seem to just get on and sit down. C: Can't pry the cellphone off their ear long enough to board the plane expeditiously. D: Refuse to part with their huge carry-on bag. E: Don't board when their row number is called. F: Stand in a huge pack around the boarding door even though their number hasn't been called. G: And the most common; don't listen to instructions or PA announcements.

User currently offlineFLIBOYZ From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 201 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 1889 times:

NWairlinkfo-

YOU HIT IT RIGHT ON THE NAIL!!!!!

End of discussion. Thank YOU very very much!!!!!

 Wink/being sarcastic


User currently offlineLhr001 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (10 years 5 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 1886 times:

It would be nice if airlines would stick to their checkin and boarding deadlines... Olympic Airways at JFK would close the doors and not allow any passengers to checkin after a certain time.... Passengers need to be responsible... Are you late for work??? So what! You cant be late for a flight! You cannot expect an airline that relys on every second of everyday to wait around because you cannot be responsible and arrive at the airport or at the gate on time... The worst are the families with children... Be responsible... How can you raise children if you cant even show up for a flight on time...


LHR001


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