Smart boarding is an innovative boarding method developed and now being tested in practice by KLM. It is designed to create a more structured and calmer boarding process while also saving time. Boarding is projected to be five minutes faster on a Boeing 737-800: from 22 to 17 minutes, which is pretty quick considering there are 170 seats. KLM is the first airline in the world to use this innovative method.
How it works
Passengers can see their personal seat number on a display at the gate. When that number is shown they are invited to board the aircraft.
KLM has developed an ingenious system to establish the boarding order. Passengers who have a window seat board first, from back to front, followed by people with centre seats, from back to front, and finally people with aisle seats, from back to front. As a result, the aisle space is optimally used and lots of passengers can store their hand baggage and take their seats at the same time.
In calculating passenger numbers, issues such as priority situations are taken into account. SkyPriority passengers will still be the first to board, as will families with infants and people with disabilities. Passengers travelling together automatically receive consecutive numbers.
On which flights?
KLM started testing the method in late October. Smart boarding is now being applied on three European flights (to Budapest, Helsinki and Berlin). The response has been positive: over half the passengers see it as an improvement.
Based on the experiences this winter, KLM will further optimise the system. It hopes to roll out the method in the summer of 2014 on both European and intercontinental routes.