Israeli scientists used applied mathmatics to prove Southwest right: random boarding quicker than assigned seats

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By Sean Andrews in London

Israeli mathematicians have revealed that is, in fact, quicker to board a flight randomly then with booked seating.

The study by academics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev,  Analysis of airplane boarding via space-time and random matrix theory, uses advanced mathematics and physics, which have previously been restricted to the theory of relativity.

The findings show that low fares airlines that do not assign specific seats are the fastest at getting passengers on board.

The mathematicians conclude: “We have shown that the aircraft boarding process can be asymptotically modelled by a boarding parameter dependent two dimensional space-time. The model can be used to analyse the dependence of boarding times on the various boarding parameters and boarding policies.”

They add: “The discrepancy between the asymptotic model and finite population results is closely related to random matrix theory (RMT), at least for thin passengers. The analysis carries applications to the design of good airplane boarding policies”

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