American’s New Boarding Process Could Probably Maybe Not Speed Up Boarding

Fly For Fun, Flickr

Airlines are constantly experimenting with new, more efficient ways to board airplanes. A faster turnaround time on the ground means more on-time flights, which translates to better revenue for the carrier. So anything that they can do to speed up the process is in their best interest. Oh – and if it makes the process easier for the passengers then that’s a decent side benefit as well.

Back in March, our friend Johnny Jet was the first to report on a new strategy that American Airlines was testing to hasten the whole boarding process. Coming soon, passengers without overhead bags will be allowed to board the plane prior to other (but after preferred) passengers. With no bags, they can quickly disburse onto the plane and into their seats without clogging the aisle. The next batch of passengers with bags will hopefully then be less hindered when loading.

The policy is being widely implemented and reported right now. How much will it speed up the process? American claims that this will save about two minutes a flight, though that average is spread across thousands of flights in which millions of permutations of boarding issues (full overhead bins, surly passengers, surly crew) can occur. Given the wide statistical nature of the process, passengers probably register much of a difference in timing.

What they will notice is a slight modification to the boarding zones, though this change still wont relieve the gate lice congestion. If American could come up with a solution for that problem, we’d be impressed.

Galley Gossip: 10 Ways To Handle A Tight Connection

1. Book wisely. If you need to be somewhere really important, it’s probably not a good idea to book your flights with less than an hour between them. Even an hour is pushing it. An hour and a half is good. Two hours, even better. Whatever you do, don’t take the last flight out! Delays happen. So do cancelations.

2. Pay the extra fee. If you’re the anxious type and travel is stressful, pay the extra fee to sit closer to the front of the airplane and be done with it. Why start your trip out on the wrong foot and the risk a snowball effect. Because once something goes wrong, everything seems to follow suit. Better to be out a few bucks than to miss a flight! It’s worth it just to relax.

3. Check your boarding pass. Many airlines print the boarding time, not the departure time, on the boarding pass. Depending on the equipment type (smaller vs. larger aircraft), you can usually tag on another 30 to 40 minutes to your connection time. Read the fine print.

4. Switch seats. Ask a flight attendant if you can move closer to the front of the cabin on landing. Unfortunately, most flights are full these days and just because there’s an open seat up front doesn’t mean you’ll find a spot in the overhead bin for your bag too. If you’ve booked a tight connection, you might want to make sure your carry-on luggage fits under the seat in front of you.

5. Relax: I know, I know, easier said than done. Just know that while it might feel like it takes forever to disembark, the truth is almost everyone is able to deplane in less than 15 minutes. So take a deep breath and … exhale. Put in your earphones and play the most relaxing music you have. Then get ready to run. Here’s to hoping you wore appropriate shoes to sprint across the airport terminal.6. Call the airline. Don’t wait in a long line of passengers to talk to an agent. By the time it’s your turn to approach the counter, chances are the flight will have already departed. Get on the phone ASAP and call the airline’s reservation desk. Or try tweeting for an even faster response. Most airlines offer immediate feedback.

7. Hold the flight! Airlines don’t hold flights for passengers. On time departures are way too important. That said an airline might hold a flight if it’s the last flight of the day or for a large group of passengers traveling to the same destination. If it is the last flight out, rest assured the airline knows where you are and you’ll probably be booked on another flight before you even land.

8. Go, go, go! Don’t stop to talk to the agent meeting your flight. Run straight to your connecting gate and talk to the agent there, even if it’s past the departure time. Time is precious. Every second counts. Plus you never know if that flight might be delayed.

9. The thing about bad weather. If you’re delayed because you’re flying into an airport experiencing bad weather, chances are your connecting flight may also be delayed. And remember just because your departing aircraft is at the gate, doesn’t mean the outbound crew is on the ground and ready to go. They could still be in the air too. Sounds strange, I know, but we don’t stick with one aircraft all day long.

10. It’s not over until the airplane pushes away from the gate. I can’t tell you how many flights I’ve just missed only to have the airplane return back to the gate to remove a sick passenger or to fix a mechanical. I’ve actually gotten on flights airlines have brought passengers off of due to weight and balance issues that were later lifted after a creeping delay. Miracles do happen.

[Photo Credit: NewbieRunner]

Awesome X: Sense Of Life (Video)

Some of the best things we run across just don’t need a whole lot of words.

This stunning video compilation is one of those.


Awesome X: Sense Of Life is a compilation of over 30 adventure videos from Germany’s EdisProduction. The stunning effort is a whirlwind of visuals and locales. The production company offers this caption to accompany the video: “Sense of Life – my fresh 5-minutes compilation capturing awesome and stunning videos introduced with a wonderful Song: Band of Horses – The Funeral.”

[Compilation Credit - EdisProduction]

ProjectYosemite: http://www.youtube.com/ProjectYosemite
Adi Geisegger: http://vimeo.com/user13080786
phaelehtv: http://www.youtube.com/user/phaelehtv
GoPro: http://www.youtube.com/user/GoProCamera
Goovinn: http://www.youtube.com/user/Goovinn
redbull: http://www.youtube.com/user/redbull
WhistlerBlackcombMtn: http://www.youtube.com/user/WhistlerB…
Martin Baebler: http://vimeo.com/53111676
Quiksilver: http://www.youtube.com/user/Quiksilver
Field Productions: http://vimeo.com/fieldproductions
JDRmotorsports1: http://www.youtube.com/user/JDRmotors…
Life Cycles: http://vimeo.com/14600175
gnarlybay: http://vimeo.com/gnarlybay
Originalskateboards: http://www.youtube.com/user/Originals…
PaulCalviere: http://www.youtube.com/user/PaulCalviere
voleurz: http://vimeo.com/voleurz
Anthill Films: http://vimeo.com/anthill
Bragic: http://www.youtube.com/user/Bragic
Keith White Audio: http://vimeo.com/36102077
harrymain: http://www.youtube.com/user/harrymain
teamfarang: http://www.youtube.com/user/teamfarang
willparkour: http://www.youtube.com/user/willparkour
Heart&Soul Daniel Sandoval: http://vimeo.com/m4da
InfinityList: http://www.infinitylist.com/
DCshoesFILM: http://www.youtube.com/user/DCshoesFILM
nikesnowboarding: http://vimeo.com/nikesnowboarding
gaberocks: http://gaberocks.com/
JokkeSommerOfficial: http://www.youtube.com/user/JokkeSomm…
nineknights1: http://www.youtube.com/user/nineknights1
florianschulz: http://vimeo.com/florianschulz
Stuntsamazing1: http://www.youtube.com/user/Stuntsama…

Aircraft Boarding Challenges Bring Innovative Designs

Boarding

Boarding commercial aircraft, from a traveler’s point of view, is all about getting to our seats, stowing gear and getting underway. We hope to have overhead bin space available, a reasonably comfortable seat and an on-time departure. Airlines are right there with us on the getting to our seats part and getting underway; they could not agree more. It’s a major issue so aircraft designers devote a lot of time and resources to making the whole process efficient.

Airlines want the boarding process to go as fast as it can for a couple big reasons. They want to stay on time, sure. But the less time they spend boarding passengers, the more flights they can fit in a day. As airlines cut back on the number of flights, choosing to insure full, profitable planes, they are constantly looking for ways to increase that efficiency.

One way might be slider seats that promise quicker boarding.Using the new Molon Labe Designs approach during boarding, the aisle seat slides on top of the middle seat, creating a 43-inch wide aisle. That gives boarding passengers much more room to navigate, stow gear and be seated. When boarding on each row is completed, the aisle seat then slides back into position.

The manufacturer promises they can cut loading time in half, adding up to 120 minutes flying time every day. Good news for airlines that could fly the same number of passengers with up to 15 percent fewer aircraft. But what about passengers?

“I’m not going to tell you it’s a comfortable seat,” Hank Scott, founder of the company said in a LA Times article. “It’s a quick, turn-around seat.” A prototype is due in November and the company has presented the idea to Boeing and Airbus.

Like it or not, aircraft seating is a huge topic to designers. The amount of time it takes to board passengers is on the table for discussion. To those with mobility issues, its also about the indignity and discrimination they face boarding aircraft.

Air Access is a concept designed by Priestmangoode that speeds up the boarding process for passengers with reduced mobility by enabling an easier transition from gate to aircraft. Air Access is a detachable wheelchair the passenger gets in at the departure gate or on the jet way. After seating, the passenger is wheeled onto the plane where the chair slides sideways and locks into the fixed-frame aisle seat without the passenger needing to get up.

On arrival, ground staff unlocks the seat, slide it out into the aisle and wheel the passenger to the jet way or arrival gate as we see in this video:




[Flickr photo by Slices of Life]

Babies and first class: why is this an issue?

babies first classEarlier this week, I saw a story about babies and first class air travel posted on Facebook. The Facebook poster asked our own Heather Poole (flight attendant, mother, and new book author!) for her thoughts on the story, and she replied, “I’m fine with babies in first class. Usually they just sleep.” Columnist Brett Snyder is a frequent flier and new dad wondering if he should use miles to upgrade his first flight with the baby. Reading the article and the many comments, I wonder: why is this (or really any story about babies and airplanes) a contentious issue?

Long before I even thought about having children, I thought the same about babies in first class that I thought about anyone in the front of the plane: must be nice for them. Sure, it might be a waste of money to give a premium seat to someone whose legs don’t touch the ground and who can’t enjoy the free Champagne, but it’s the parents’ choice to splurge on the ticket. If the parents are more comfortable, the kid might be happier and thus quiet — a win-win for everyone on the plane. Does the child “deserve” to sit up front? Perhaps not, but airplane seating has never been based on merit. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, a passenger is a passenger, no matter how small.As the veteran of nearly 20 flights with an infant in Europe, the US and trans-Atlantic, I’ve been fortunate to fly a few times with my daughter in business class. While the roomy seats and meals make a 10 hour flight easier with a baby, more valuable is the ability to skip check-in and security lines, board the plane early, and spend layovers in a spacious lounge with a place to heat baby food or change a diaper. Some of those perks used to be standard for all passengers with small children, but have now gone the way of the hot meal in coach. Some airlines still make travel easier for parents: JetBlue is one of the only US-based airlines to allow you to gate-check a stroller of any size and check your first bag free (checking a bag becomes inevitable with a baby). Gulf Air offers free “Sky Nannies” on long-haul flights for young children, and Lufthansa offers a guide service (for a fee) to escort families traveling through their German hubs. Turkish Airlines (my most frequently-used airline while I live in Istanbul) always offers a “baby meal” and blocks off empty seats when possible to give us more room.

I’m also fortunate to have an easy baby who so far (knock on wood) has been very well behaved on every flight. This is in part very good luck, but also due to the fact that I watch her constantly and head off any signs of crying before they start. I’ll hold and feed her as often as it takes, even if it means I rarely rest anymore on a plane. Many of the same people who’ve given me “the look” when boarding with an infant have complimented me after on her behavior. Brett also notes in his article: “Don’t just sit there while your baby screams. Do everything you can to calm him and people will be more understanding.” This is good advice, but does it really need to be said?! I’d never dream of sitting by idly while my child disturbed other people and I’m embarrassed by any other parents who would consider such behavior acceptable. Still, I recognize that even with the most watchful parents, sometimes a cranky baby is unavoidable but I hope that when/if that day comes, my fellow passengers will see how hard I’m trying to make the flight easier for all of us. Better still, if I anticipate a difficult age for my baby to fly, I’ll look into alternative methods of travel (or postpone until an easier time).

If we are going to ban babies from first class, or even segregate them from adults on all flights, why stop there? Why not a separate flight for the armrest-hogs, the obese, the incessant talkers, or the drunk and belligerent? I’d like a plane full of only frequent flyers, who know not to use their cell phone after the door closes, who don’t rush the aisles the minute the wheels touch down, who don’t recline their seats during drink service or bring smelly food (or nail polish) onto the plane. Start flights for only considerate, experienced travelers and you will find me in the front of the plane, with my baby on my lap.

For more about (considerate) travel with a baby, read my past “Knocked Up Abroad” stories here.

Vote in Gadling’s Airline Madness Competition!

See more categories here