The Sunday Magazine

What's the best way to board passengers onto a plane?

The most commonly-used way to board passengers — dividing the plane into zones and loading passengers back-to-front — is the least efficient method. Physicist Jason Steffen explains the theory behind The Steffen Method.
Air Canada, Westjet and Sunwing use the zone method of boarding (loading passengers back to front), although research shows other methods can be more efficient. (Air Canada)

Those who have studied the airline industry say the common method of inviting passengers to board – dividing the plane into zones and beginning at the back of the plane – needs a serious rethink

Jason Steffen is an associate professor in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Nevada.  He has investigated various methods of airplane boarding and shares his findings with Michael, in another episode of our ongoing series, Think Again.

Click 'listen' above to hear the full conversation.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?