London Gatwick is carrying out a two-month trial to test new boarding techniques in efforts to reduce queues and congestion at gates.

The airport will trial various boarding sequences at Gate 101, using large digital screens and staff to show passengers the order to board, to test whether they make the process faster and more relaxing, and potentially reduce the numbers of passengers rushing forwards.

Passengers who have booked priority boarding, who require special assistance, or who are travelling with young families will still board first, but possible sequences the airport has highlighted include boarding by seat number, including from the back row to the front with window seats first, middle seats next and aisle seats last.

Gatwick suggested modelling indicates these techniques may be able to reduce boarding times by up to 10% compared to conventional methods.

“We want to explore whether boarding by seat number will avoid queues in the gate room and when boarding the aircraft,” said Abhi Chacko, head of enabling technologies and digital innovation, Gatwick Airport. “Early indications are that this new technique has the potential to reduce the overall boarding time. By communicating to passengers better and boarding passengers by seat number, we also expect to make the whole boarding experience more relaxing and, potentially, prevent large numbers of passenger rushing forward at any stage.”

The outcomes from the trial and feedback from passengers will be used to decide whether the concept will be taken forward.

Reports suggest the airport is working with easyJet to test different boarding systems.

Image: Gatwick Pier 1

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