How To Empty A Plane | The Solution

theoatmeal inspiration

I have too much time on my hands.

Once a plane lands, a flight attendants walks from the front (or back, depending on which ever way the plane is disembarking) and releases access to the overhead lockers. Only when the attendent has passed the row and released the lock can people get up and collect their things to exit.

This will cut down on the bedlam and scrum of disembarking, allows for a steady and simple flow of exiting people plus a more controlled customer experience.

Would love to do this as an experiment—do you think it would work?

Inspired by real life and this Oatmeal comic.


  1. I’d like to do an experiment about getting on to the plane – all the people with window seats get on first, then the middle seats then the aisle seats. No more queuing in the aisle while someone in an aisle seat gets up (always making a huge fuss of it of course) to let in someone in the window seat. Wondering where airlines keep their common sense!….. Maybe it’s just time we cut down our carbon footprint DK, travel is making us miserable moaning minnies!

    1. Kerry – ah great idea. Thanks for the comment and you’re probably right although I always giggle at the scrum that is boarding and departing planes. Humankind at its worst!

    2. This has been done and totally works, and the reverse process for disembarking.
      The only problem is the human factor: people cheat, will not be told to wait, or want or need to board with their travelling companions.

        1. :-) This isn’t the link/study I was originally thinking of but I think it shows some actual field results comparing block (traditional “rows” based) boarding and the window-middle-aisle (they call it “Wilma”) approach discussed above (as well as purely random and highly optimised seat-order allocation).
          I’m pretty sure I remember reading a purely mathematical approach (that “proved” why Wilma would be better than block boarding) on the xkcd blag but I can’t find it right now – but probably worth looking up if you were interested in using it as an excersize for teaching.

          1. Appreciate the followup MR Toothfish – great link / story / proposed method. Match it with my suggested solution above for disembarking the plane then we’re on to a winner for sure ;-)

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