Gatwick Airport trials new boarding methods to cut delays

Passengers board an EasyJet flight at Gatwick

A new scheme at Gatwick Airport is attempting to reduce boarding delays.

The airport says it is working with EasyJet on a range of methods to make the boarding process potentially faster and more relaxing.

One technique involves seating people from the back row to the front row with window seats first, followed by middle seats and then aisle seats.

Passengers board an EasyJet flight at Gatwick
EasyJet is participating in the Gatwick trial

Gatwick believes it is possible to reduce the time it takes to board a typical short-haul flight by between three and 14 minutes.

The trial will be carried out over the next two months in the North Terminal on Airbus A320 aircraft with six seats across.

Passengers with priority boarding or who require special assistance will continue to board planes first.

Gatwick, which is the UK’s second busiest airport, will consider the impact of the new methods along with feedback from passengers before proceeding with the concept following the scheme.

Head of digital innovation at the airport, Abhi Chacko, said the trial aims to solve whether boarding by seat number will avoid queues in the gate room.

He continued: “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.”

A spokeswoman for EasyJet said: “We continually look at different technologies and innovations which could make customer journeys easier.

“Gatwick is our largest base and they approached us about commencing a boarding trial. A small number of easyJet flights that use Gate 101 are taking part in the trial initially.

“This isn’t something we are looking to implement across our network but will work with Gatwick to study the results of their trial when it closes.”

The airport, located in West Sussex, was found to have the fourth worst punctuality performance of the major UK airports last year, with departing flights delayed by an average of 18 minutes, according to analysis of Civil Aviation Authority data.