Monday, September 19, 2011

Travel at The Speed of Common Sense

Scientists are notorious for using sledgehammers to crack nuts, but an astrophysicist has solved a modern conundrum with brilliant simplicity. Stuck in a long queue while boarding a plane a few years back, Jason Steffen thought there must be a better way.

His idea was to start boarding alternate rows from the back of the plane, from the window seat in, rather than the usual block-by-block approach. A trial of The Steffen Method by the producers of an upcoming UK TV show found that it works: passengers boarded a mock 747, baggage in tow, in half the typical time.

Frequent flyers rejoice! After 60 years of convention – the first commercial flight took off in 1962 – Steffen has surprised with the obvious. Who will lead the way by taking on the new method? Air NZ? Emirates? As well as making people’s lives better by taking some of the endless waiting out of air travel (check-in, security, boarding, getting off, customs, baggage claim) it could be a real edge in an industry where minutes matter everywhere.

But the real lesson for airline execs isn’t that it takes a rocket scientist to add more value – just a passenger who wants a better experience. Time to tap the customer for inspiration.