People Innovation Excellence

Better timing by the bag

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New method of boarding is quicker, could save airlines millions

Your luggage could hold the key to saving airlines millions of dollars a year while easing your anxieties about boarding flight.

Clarkson University researchers have devised a strategy that assigns airline passengers a specific seat based on the number of bags they carry, which evenly distributes luggage through the plane. Each row of seats would tend to have a passenger with two bags, a passenger with one bag and a passenger with no bags, according to the researchers.

“The new method would save at least several seconds in boarding time and prevent any one area of the plane from becoming overloaded with bags,” said IIE member R. John Milne, the Neil ’64 and Karen Bonke Assistant Professor in Engineering Management. “Airlines could provide a smoother boarding experience for passengers by utilizing the research.

“You add that up over thousands of flights a day over the course of a year; it can really make a difference,” Milne explained. “For instance, a large airline like Delta may be able to save about $ 10 million a year.”

Co-author and undergraduate student Alexander Kelly simulated thousands of airplane boarding’s through a computer model. He said the project showed him how academic research can solve real problems, and it also helped him get a full-time job with Generic Electric Intelligent Platforms.


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