It could significantly speed up the process.
Pier 1 Gate Room at Gatwick Airport, London
Credit: Courtesy of Gatwick Airport

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London's Gatwick airport is running a trial scheme that it claims can speed up passenger boarding by around 10% by boarding people based on their individual seat number.

Gatwick, the UK's second-biggest airport, has started a two-month test to experiment with different boarding patterns, using a screen to call out each seat, with the aim of maximizing efficiency.

Various configurations include boarding passengers at the back first, starting with passengers who have window seats, followed by middle seats, and then the aisle seats.

The passengers, Gatwick said, will be told when to board based on their seat number by "large digital screens." It says the scheme can avoid lines and congestion at boarding gates.

This graphic from Gatwick Airport shows how passengers are told when to board. This configuration fills every "A" window seat first, followed by every "B" middle seat:

Airport screen instructing passengers to board by seat number
Credit: Courtesy of Gatwick Airport

Under this plan, passengers who miss their seat number being called should wait until the end of boarding.

The airport said: "Modelling indicates that these techniques may be able to reduce boarding times by up to 10%, compared to conventional methods."

A spokesman for Gatwick told Business Insider that the "small trial" is running with EasyJet flights from a single gate: number 101.

He also said that passengers who pay for priority boarding, families, and those who need special assistance would still get to board first.

Gatwick said that both the trial's findings and feedback from passengers would be used to decide if the airport ultimately changes its boarding processes.

Abhi Chacko, a technology executive at the airport, said in a statement that "We want to explore whether boarding by seat number will avoid queues in the gate room and when boarding the aircraft."

"Early indications are that this new technique has the potential to reduce the overall boarding time.

"By communicating to passengers better and boarding passengers by seat number, we also expect to make the whole boarding experience more relaxing and, potentially, prevent large numbers of passenger rushing forward at any stage."