I've just read an article
on different ways of getting passengers onto an airplane, arguing that South-western's current method is the best of those used, although there is at least one alternative that is better still. The article did not consider the method that has long struck me as the obvious solution to the problem—and that no airline, so far as I know, uses.
South-western lines up passengers in an order mainly determined by when they checked in, then lets them choose their own seats as they board. My method uses the same mechanics—lining passengers up in a predetermined order—but in what should be a much more efficient way. Instead of lining them up by priority, line them up by seat number. The first two people in line are the ones in the window seat of the last row. The next two are in the window seat of the next row forward, and so on to the window seats of the first row. Next come the two in the middle seats ordered in the same way, then finally those in the aisle seats.
The advantage seems obvious—since passengers go on in the order of their seats, nobody ever has to wait for a passenger in front of him in line but seated ahead of him. Since the rows fill from the window in, nobody has to wait for someone in his row to get out before he can get in. One might argue that passengers will be unwilling to go along with such an elaborate arrangement—but the mechanics are exactly the same as way South-western does now. The only difference is that the order actually serves a function.
What am I missing? Why don't the airlines do it that way?