Airlines could slash the time taken to get passengers onto an aircraft if they boarded fliers who wanted to sit by the window first, scientists have found.
This would enable aircraft to be loaded 40 per cent quicker than the method most commonly used by airlines, in which passengers are allowed onto the plane according to which row they will be sitting.
But even more time could be saved by using what is known as the “Steffen method”, devised by Jason Steffen, an astrophysicist at Fermi National Laboratory in Illinois.
His findings, based on carrying out a number of computer simulations, have been published in the Journal of Air Transport Management.
Dr Steffen suggests a sophisticated tweak. This would see passengers opting for the window seats boarding first, but also in alternate rows.
Having filled the window seats in this manner, the same would approach would be used for those choosing the middle seats and finally those on the aisle.
Boarding a plane faster would be a boost for budget airlines who are keen to minimise the time on the ground in order to maximise revenue by operating as many flights as possible.
Currently many no-frills airlines opt for a free for all, while increasingly scheduled carriers have started charging economy class passengers a fee to choose their seat in advance.