A new campaign at London’s Gatwick Airport is attempting to board passengers more swiftly.
The experiment is being conducted at Gate 101 of Gatwick’s North Terminal, with passengers boarding easyJet flights.
Instead of giving priority customers the green light to board the plane first, ground staff are telling customers exactly when to board. The team is trialling several different methods including boarding window seat passengers first, starting at the back and followed by middle, then aisle seats.
Gatwick has said that using different boarding methods could reduce the time it takes to board by 10 per cent.
However, the airport also noted that the window-to-aisle seat boarding style is best suited for business travellers and individuals not travelling with friends or family. Another method will be seating groups by row, starting at the back of the plane.
The trial will continue for two months and a spokesperson told the BBC that an airline managed to board 158 passengers on a plane in 14 minutes – two to three minutes better than the usual time.
Gatwick is also experimenting with a visual boarding map instead of the usual audio boarding call. The large map will illuminate the seats on the plane that are ready to board and tell customers when to be seated and when to prepare to start boarding.
The spokesperson continued: “One challenge in any controlled boarding process is our ability to communicate the pattern to passengers and the willingness of passengers to comply. It is almost impossible to do that effectively through audio announcements.”
They said passengers had intuitively understood the new process with some even dubbing it ‘bingo boarding’.
A challenge for the new trial will be that because many airlines charge passengers extra money for the ability to board first and claim space in the overhead lockers, they may not want to comply with these new rules if implemented.
A spokesperson for easyJet told the Independent: “A small number of easyJet flights that use Gate 101 are taking part in the trial initially.
“This isn’t something we are looking to implement across our network but will work with Gatwick to study the results of their trial when it closes.”
Other airlines are expected to take part in the trial as it continues, with Gatwick hoping it will improve the experience for passengers and reduce delays.