Fermilabs physicist solves airplane boarding dilemma

After watching the airplane boarding process a few years ago while on the way to a conference, Fermilabs physicist Jason Steffen thought that there had to be a better way.  After considering a variety of methods, he settled on one using an algorithm based on the Monte Carlo optimization method.

By boarding alternate rows with the window seats first, passengers minimize aisle interference and therefore the most common form of delays.  Alternating rows of middle seats follow the windows and then alternating rows of aisle seats.

Despite having published his findings in Journal of Air Transport Management in 2008, airlines have yet to adopt the “Steffen method” which could save the industry over $1 billion annually.