One Australian engineer, Rob Wallace of Round Peg Innovations, thinks he may have a solution. He calls it his flying carpet and he launched it at Passenger Terminal Expo this week. You might be forgiven for thinking that the flying carpet concept is a game when you first see it. It is just that, a carpet. It is divided into 20 rows of seats mimicking the passenger seat layout on a plane. The first forty passengers are called forward and they stand on the squares that relate to their seat assignments. Because the carpet is a reduced scale if you stand on one sea row you also take up the space of the row in front and the row behind. If another person in the same group can’t stand on their own square seat assignment, then they just wait until the first group moves off. In essence it is a game after all, a game of musical chairs only the chairs are airline seats. If you don’t make it you go back to the next attempt.
The logic behind this is that when you board the plane using the flying carpet method you have enough room to stow your hand baggage without disturbing someone else or being disturbed yourself. By the time you’re settled the next group is coming up the aisle. Wallace reckons that it will speed up boarding but also improve the aggravation factor that is often felt by passengers when they have to queue or get jostled. Five or six groups should be sufficient to fill most planes.
Does the idea work?
Because it is so new no airline has taken up the scheme. Or airport for that matter. But the first one that does will get acres of publicity as they realise how the media loves an odd story. And for passengers, this new and radical approach might be the salvation of some of the hassle that we get when we board aircraft.