Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Musings on Air Travel
While waiting to disembark from my flight to Chicago from Boston, being somewhat impatient because the flight had been delayed from a couple of hours, I got a subtle but persistant feeling that there was something wrong with the unloading process. The way it usually works, when the passengers are released to get their overhead carry-ons, only a few people can get their luggage at a time. Everyone behind them must wait for them to finish and move on before they can get their baggage, while everyone behind them waits, etc. So that everyone has to spend twenty, thirty minutes waiting while every row in front of them one by one retrieves their luggage, resulting in a lot of useless down time. During this long and annoyed wait (I didn't even have any luggage overhead to get- I just had to wait for the people in front of me to slowly retrieve theirs), I came up with a better solution: Why don't they just have all the even numbered rows get their stuff and leave (or if that's too many people in the aisle at one, everyone divisible by three or four), so that they could all retrieve at once and then simultaneously move on and out, and then the odd rows do the same. There may be something mathematically wrong with my theory (it makes my head hurt to think about it too long and it's rather late), but I suspect that the real problem is that it doesn't give as much advantage to the passengers in the front seats, giving perhaps slightly less incentive to fly that way. But that's not all that much incentive, so maybe that's false too. If someone more mathematically inclined can point out the problem with the argument, it would be much appreciated.