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Excuse me, is this seat taken?

by | Sep 13, 2015 | Daily Life

An example of how something we take for granted like boarding a plane can be greatly improved with behavioral observation and design thinking.

Icame across an interesting white paper and video today regarding a method for boarding passengers that promises to cut down both the time and difficulty of boarding a commercial airliner. The method is creatively called “The Steffan Method” named after the principle scientist on the study. In the white paper, which I have a link for at the end, Dr. Steffan goes into great detail (maybe too much for the non-physicist) of how the study was constructed, the parameters, and outcomes.

Interestingly, very little thought seems to have been given until now about how best to board passengers to alleviate stress and minimize time. Children and older passengers have long been given first access to a plane, as they often require special assistance. In this new method, that same preferential treatment is provided, but from there the changes are quite innovative. The video below gives a very quick demo of this new process.

Whether airline companies adopt this new boarding method remains to be seen, but what I am most excited about is how this shines a bright light on the type of work we do at Instinct. Studying human behaviors and interactions, using thoughtful scientific analysis, and keeping an open mind—all in an attempt to improve some aspect of the human experience—is what we do at Instinct. The fact that in this example, a better boarding method can reduce passenger stress and anxiety, speed up departure times, and hopefully alleviate congestion at busy airports shows just how powerful designing for the end user can be.

Read or download Dr. Steffan’s study here.

Robert Westfall

Robert is a writer, behavorial researcher and decision-making consultant. He is the founder of Instinct, a firm specializing in helping organizations be more human focused and planet conscious.  You can learn more about his work at www.TheHumanInstinct.com and follow him at twitter.com/WeAreInstinct

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