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Improving Jet Boarding Times – Capital or Creativity?

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DenverPost.com – United debuts new jet bridge

I've always wondered why more airlines didn't board/de-plane from the front AND back of the plane. I guess it's a question of investing in the new jet bridges. It seems like an easy ROI calculation: faster plane turnaround times equals more flights per week and more revenue per plane, right?

“United expects to get four to six more flight segments in each day – equivalent to an extra plane and a half.”

I assume that this is across their entire network, four to six more segments.

This approach focuses on technology. Other airlines (and Industrial Engineering students) have tackled this as a process issue — what's the best process for boarding a plane quickly? Back to front? Outside (windows first) / in (aisle seats last)? Or a free-for-all??

Northwest claims the same savings (10 minutes) through their new boarding process as United achieved (7 to 10 minutes) with expensive gate impovements. Interesting lesson there, huh? A good example of “creativity over capital?” Can you improve your processes by changing how things are done instead of buying new equipment? Are you using lack of new equipment as an excuse for not improving?

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus. His next book, to be released in 2018, is Measures of Success.

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