Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thoughts on an Airplane Ride

When I boarded my plane yesterday from Shenzhen to Shanghai, I noticed that when I boarded all the seats up front were occupied quickly, but none of the ones in the back (were I was) were at all. This got me to thinking…

I assume that the tickets were sold from the front to the rear of the plane, and seeing as how I bought my ticket online only days ago, this would make sense. But how come everyone in this first wave of boarding was sitting in front? Perhaps it is indicative of the personalities/preferences of those boarding the plane. The ones who booked their ticket long in advance are adverse to rushing, or to put it another way, play it safe and plan ahead. It would make sense for people of this nature to be present right when the plane opened for boarding. Those who booked later, it would seem , tend to plan less and act more spontaneously. Hence the great rush to the back which ensued. Everyone who was prone to rush ended up with their seat in the back.


This reminds me: I’ve noticed that Southwest Airlines has actually taken this approach in boarding, allowing you to print out your boarding pass at home a certain time before. Those who print their boarding pass at the beginning of this time window are allowed to board first, while those who print it out later, or get it at the terminal have to wait longer to board. I find this strategy ingenious not only because it saves resources for Southwest (i.e. fewer staff to monitor the provision of boarding passes), but it is also relatively painless to their customers. (This is, of course, dependent on the fact that my observations aren’t just anecdotal.) Given the connection between preferences and the way in which passengers board, this arrangement would occur anyway. Southwest, by harnessing this insight, has enabled itself to increase efficiency without compromising the all-important specter of service.

posted by ferret at 1:44 am  

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