The Scrubba Blog

Airline introduces carry-on valet service

by Maylynn Bloom |

Ever been the last passenger to board a plane,

missed out on a spot for your carry-on in the overhead

above your seat and had to trek all the way to row 47

mid-flight just to access your pen?

Hand luggage over loaders and inefficient airline boarding systems are causing flight delays that ultimately cost passengers more in airline fees.

Flights delays costs the airline industry an estimated $30 per minute and with a quarter of all flights running at least 15 minutes late multiplied by thousands of flights per day, that's millions of dollars in extra costs being passed on to customers.

One obvious example of increased fees has been the cost of baggage. It wasn't long ago that luggage was included in the ticket price, but in recent years airlines have started charging for check-ins and fees just keep going up. Passengers seem to be tugging along more and more carry-ons to reduce checked luggage, in turn causing greater congestion at security gates, prolonged boarding times and, ultimately costing more for the airline.

Now airlines are scratching their heads to come up with new ways to make boarding quicker and easier, prevent delays and save on costs in the long run.

Delta Airlines in the United States have come up with the new 'early valet' carry-on service whereby passengers actually hand over their personal baggage to airline staff to valet onto the aircraft and stow it away in the overhead bins before passengers board. In theory, this means passengers just walk on and take a seat without fussing over storage space and clogging up the aisles. Delta Airlines have apparently trialed this new system and found a significant decrease in boarding times and delays.

Other airlines have maintained more traditional methods of minimizing boarding times without getting involved in personal baggage. Most airlines, for example, adopt a back to front boarding system, allowing passengers seated in the back-most rows to embark first and work their way up to the front of the aircraft. The theory behind this method is to reduce congestion in the aisles during boarding and give passengers access to overhead storage directly above their seats. Research has shown, however, that this is actually the most time-inefficient method, as everyone is trying to access the same spaces at the same time, which actually causes more congestion in the aisles and passengers seated at the front of the plane often find there is no overhead space left by the time they board.

Some airlines employ the 'outside-in' method whereby window seat passengers board first, then centre, then aisle passengers, but this creates the problem of groups who are traveling together not being able to board at the same time.

It would seem quicker to board randomly and there are airlines, such as Southwest in the U.S., that do it this way. Passengers board in order of check-in and sit wherever they want. This 'unassigned seats' method seems to be the quickest way to board a plane, but also raises the problem of families and groups traveling together not being able to sit together.

All airlines allow priority passengers such as first class, business class, people who require special assistance or families with young children to board first and many offer upgraded boarding priority so you can jump the boarding queue and become 'priority' for a fee.

One thing in common is that all airlines are looking for ways to improve boarding systems, reduce delays and extra costs and make flying cheaper and easier for everyone.

Sources for this article include:
Everbeen the last passenger to board a plane,