WXXI Local Stories
6:30 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Carry On Luggage the Key to Faster Boarding

Winter storms kicking off the start of the year have seen hundreds of flights canceled across the state. They may not be able to control the weather, but researchers in upstate New York have developed a method that could relieve some of the hassles of air travel, making boarding quicker and easier.

All airlines seem to do it differently. Some budget carriers like to charge extra for the privilege of boarding first, while others prefer a free-for-all scramble for the best seat.

Either way, Clarkson University researchers think they have a strategy that could see passengers seated a whole 3 percent faster.

Lead researcher R. John Milne says it all comes down to finding that elusive spot for your carry-on.

“The general idea of this research is simply to assign passengers to seats so that the luggage that they bring on board of the plane is essentially spread out throughout the plane so that, you know, when somebody’s going to their seat they’re more likely to find a spot in the overhead bin.”

Milne says computer models, run by his undergraduate assistant Alexander Kelly, show that boarding a plane so that each row has one passenger with two bags, one with one bag, and one passenger with no bags saves about 10 seconds on each flight.

That might not sound like much but it adds up, he says.

“For a large airline, like say Delta airlines, with roughly 6,000 flights a day in the US this could translate to about $10 million a year savings for them.”

Milne says the method could easily be put into practice if passengers were required to list the number of carry-on bags traveling with them as well as the number of checked cases.