There’s a better way to exit planes and we’re not using it

Inside of aeroplane
Is there anything more frustrating than waiting to get off a plane? shutterstock

Everything about flying sucks, and we love complaining about it.

Airlines and the TSA are convenient scapegoats, and from getting charged for our carry-ons to waiting in long security lines, we give them a ton of flak.

So if there’s even the most minuscule chance of making any aspect of flying more efficient, you would think they’d jump on it, right?


We already know that our system of boarding flights is inefficient, but apparently it’s not just the way we get on planes that is slower than it should be — the way we get off the plane is all wrong too.

According to Vox, we should be deboarding planes by column, rather than by row.

This traditional boarding method is inefficient. SeatGuru

Computer simulations by various groups of researchers all came to the same conclusion: we could be getting off the plane much faster if we didn’t pile into the aisle by row. In fact, a 2014 Northwestern study found that getting off the plane aisle seats first, middle seats next, and window seats last could cut deboarding times by more than 35 per cent.

Andrew Wald, one of the studies’ researchers, says “These particular simulations found that deboarding in columns is typically more effective than other methods.”

However, while he says their simulations found time savings of between one and five minutes, he explains that it depends on the aircraft type, as well as types of customers, routes, and airline policies.

“A Boeing 757 operating from Minneapolis to Orlando on a Friday in February is going to be filled to the brim with bags, families, and relatively infrequent flyers — it will take a good chunk of time to deplane, no matter what. That exact same plane — even on the same airline — flying from NYC to San Francisco on a Wednesday afternoon will have a mix of empty seats and million-mile flyers. From examples like this, one could see why it would be difficult to declare a ‘best’ or ‘better’ universal airline deboarding strategy.”

When the guys from MythBusters tested various boarding methods on their show, they found that the so-called “WILMA” method — window passengers board first, followed by middle-seaters, followed by those on the aisle — was most efficient, so it makes sense that the reverse would be equally effective when getting off the plane.

However, don’t hold your breath: we may never see this change implemented. Besides the fact that it would be really hard to get people to adhere to it, and to recondition them after years of exiting by row, the real issue facing this method is the fact that it would split up families and groups travelling together.

NOW WATCH: One of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park goes right up a river