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The St. Petersburg Times recently took an interesting look at Southwest Airlines’ move toward a different way of getting passengers on planes. And the effects it has on timely departures.

Southwest currently has a first-come, first-serve loading process. The airline is testing new reserved-seating system starting Monday here in San Diego.

They’re not the only ones tooling around with their loading systems. The Times explains:

Their goal is to become more like Southwest, which can unload a plane, board new passengers and get everything else done for takeoff in about 25 minutes -faster than anyone else in the business.

Planes don’t make money sitting on the ground. If airlines reduce the “turn time” at airports, they can squeeze more flying each day out of the same number of aircraft.

That means you can make more revenue-generating trips or retire older planes and still keep the same schedule. Commercial aviation consultant Scott Hamilton explains the math like this:

(15 minutes per flight) X (eight or nine flights per day) X (400 planes) = Serious Money.

ROB DAVIS

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