Optimal boarding method for airline passengers

Research paper by Jason H. Steffen

Indexed on: 19 Mar '08Published on: 19 Mar '08Published in: Physics - Physics and Society


Using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo optimization algorithm and a computer simulation, I find the passenger ordering which minimizes the time required to board the passengers onto an airplane. The model that I employ assumes that the time that a passenger requires to load his or her luggage is the dominant contribution to the time needed to completely fill the aircraft. The optimal boarding strategy may reduce the time required to board and airplane by over a factor of four and possibly more depending upon the dimensions of the aircraft. In addition, knowledge of the optimal boarding procedure can inform decisions regarding changes to methods that are employed by a particular carrier. I explore some of the salient features of the optimal boarding method and discuss practical modifications to the optimal. Finally, I mention some of the benefits that could come from implementing an improved passenger boarding scheme.