Enforce the "step in before storing your bag" rule?

Here’s an entry in my new “solve this” cateogry, which asks for reader input on solving problems.

When flying on a very full flight yesterday, we had an example of what my approach for faster airplane loading would have helped with. But until we get that, are there other solutions?

On the full flight, passengers would stand in the aisle trying to store their bags. With the compartments full they took a long time doing it, sometimes found themselves unable to. This blocked the loading and even though we started boarding 30 minutes before the flight, we were not finished by departure time. The flight attendants were on the PA every few minutes telling people not to stand in the aisle, to instead step into the row and let people pass, but very few paid attention to it. We don’t seem inclined to do this, and not just because we are desperate for storage space. (I’m one of the desperate, I carry on fragiles like camera gear that I refuse to let them throw around.) We just don’t believe that our own efforts will slow things much, and we also believe it will take “just a few more seconds” to get the bag in right.

One extreme idea would be to not allow passengers to open the overhead compartments until it is announced you may do so! That seems counter-intuitive, delaying the loading of bags to save time. But in fact, faced with this, people would have nothing else to do but go into their seat with their bag on their laps, or stand up with it on the seat. Then the call could tell people to start loading.

The compartments would probably need an alarm on them that would go off during the period when they are blocked. They would not be blocked for first class passengers, pre-boarders or perhaps even premium frequent flyers allowed to board early.

One consequence of this rule would be that there would be no great reason to get on the plane outside the order rows are called. It’s not going to get better storage for your bags. It does mean aisle seat passengers will get better storage for their bags. It will strongly encourage the use of the underseat storage — though I freely admit I much prefer footroom to use of the underseat storage, like everybody else.

This is easy to implement. Small standard closure sensors wired in series back to the control panel, perhaps in blocks by rows, and perhaps an LED and placard to indicate when access is barred.

To get closer to today’s system which does give preference to those on first, the compartments could be unalarmed in small batches. Ie. load people, then give one minute for storage, then ask that all be closed and re-enable the alarm for more loading.

And of course, on non-full flights, you don’t have to use this at all.

What other systems might encourage people to step into their row when people are stalled behind them? After all, that’s all that’s truly needed here. Just a sense of when you are holding everybody up. It’s enough to step into the row, wait for several to pass until things bunch up more naturally, and then store the bag, if this could be coordinated some way.

And now for something completely different...

How about simply having a humorous short video with John Cleese and a few "assistants" demonstarting both preferred and extremely not-preferred "boarding etiquette" and having it run on the seat-back TV screens as people are boarding.

Or, how about a cute little "Boarding Etiquette" comic book to hand people as they head down the jetway, just to get everybody into the mood.

-- Jack Krupansky

There is a much simpler solution!

IIRC, a while back you posted about seating order in planes. In
Europe, it's quite common for the last 5 rows (back of the plane)
to be called, then when they have boarded, the next-to-last 5 rows
etc. This solves the problem of storing baggage, allows one to do
something better than waiting for boarding since one can estimate
when one's row will be called, and keeps the queue length down. And
it doesn't even need any fancy technology!

relies too much on what's already the problem

currently, social cripples stuff it up for everyone[1].

The trouble with your "solutions" is that they ignore that aspect of the problem and assume that if you just point out to the social cripples that they're crippled, they'll somehow cure themselves. Somehow I think that most people who have decided "sod everyone else, I'll block the aisle if I want to" are not going to get out of the way just because a light flashes.

If you added solenoid locks to the bins that would work, but cost a lot of weight. The airlines have probably done the money numbers and decided that it wouldn't pay off.

What would work is dual loading - people get on at the back and off at the front. Most would probably decide to sit at the front (to get off fastest), so you'd only have to solve the problem of people demanding to get off at the closest door instead of having to walk the length of the plane like everyone else. Probably answered by not opening the rear door until everyone is moving.

This is more likely to happen with the new double decker planes, where loading 600 people through a single door is just not going to work. They're rebuilding the loading bays for them, and IIRC they've gone for 4 or more loading ramps in many places.

[1] tautilogically speaking. Note that the statement is doubly true - not only do selfish flyers make life harder for other flyers, but all flyers are fscking up the planet by choosing the least environmentally efficient mode of transport.

Use a deposit system

I got this idea the last time I attended a Renassaisance Festival and witnessed many people doing thing which were really inconsiderate, even unsafe to others.

The solution I think is to have all passengers charged (or at least sign something contractual authorizing a charge) for what is essentially a deposit when paying for the flight. Passengers recorded breaking the rules during the flight and reasonably identified cannot collect their deposit (or are charged) after the flight. It is sort of like "red light cameras" but instead of being considered a fine, they'd be required to advance the funds.

I'm thinking that passengers with a good record would not be precharged vs signature, and bad record passengers would be required to pay in advance, or even pay out a larger deposit.

The base figure I'm thinking of is $40. High enough that all but the most wealthy will resent it, and low enough to stay out of court over.

I like this idea for a number of reasons, including that at least in theory it ought to reduce the cost of air travel if only because things might run more smoothly as a result. If it does, it sort of "Socialises" air faire's a bit.

It also occurs to me that the fines collected might soon after it is started pay the cost of all the security cameras which would need to be operated to record much of this (assuming the planes don't already have them) and equipment to record the video. Finally I'm thinking that though it is unlikely this recorder would be built to necessarily withstand an air disaster, were some forethought put into this system, it could at least be of assistance in monitoring suspicious behavior on the planes if a problem did arise.

Doesn't work

It’s trouble when the people who enforce the fines also profit from the fines. Perhaps if the fines went to charity.

Right now, for example, the airlines realized they could cut the bag weight limit from 70lbs to 50lbs, and charge for extra. Now it’s a profit center, hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges.

Charging people in flyer miles makes more sense.

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