March 2024 Editorial – EPN Consulting Newsletter


If you are a frequent traveller like me, I am sure you share the same issue I face every time I have to board an aircraft: rules are different according to the airline chosen. These rules regard either the baggage allowed on board or the kind of ticket bought…or both!

Just a few examples: with Ryanair you can board freely with one small backpack to put under the seat in front of you but, if you want to carry your IATA-compliant trolley with you (10 kg max allowed), you must buy an extra package (usually between £20 and 30£) per trip. You can choose your seat and pay accordingly and, because you chose to carry the small trolley with you aboard, you are considered “priority boarding”. This totally upset the older rules when priority passengers were just a lucky handful of people with special cards or business tickets. With Ryanair, priority passengers are the majority.

EasyJet follows a slightly different rule: they offer three categories of tickets with different features (small backpack always included) and just a small number of seats allows to carry the small trolley with you. There is no limit on its weight but the price to pay is ridiculously high: usually an extra £40-£45 only for this option that includes the “speedy boarding” a.k.a. priority.

British Airways in Economy class allows to carry with you a small bag and a small trolley no matter its weight. Then, you have to buy your seat (pretty expensive and ranging from £17 to £33). A strange mix between ticket price and chosen seat generates the “boarding group” ranging from 4 to 9 (groups 1-3 are for business class). Theoretically, the 9th group is last one to embark although, in practice, from the 6th group onward all remaining passengers are welcome to board the plane.

Lufthansa and Star Alliance airlines in Economy class allow one bag only (small trolleys are accepted) with a weight up to 8kg and this is a serious limit, then boarding groups are divided into 5 categories whose the last 3 are for economy passengers.

I stop here to avoid boring you too much, however these examples show how difficult travelling by plane has recently become, in particular if you plan to depart with one airline and return with another one: either your small trolley could not be accepted or you could be fined because it weights more than 8kg…a serious headache.

A few weeks ago I read an interesting article on the Scientific American magazine: “There Are Quicker Ways to Board a Plane — So Why Don’t Airlines Use Them?” where there are several examples of boarding rules and how mathematical models would help simplify this process. It also states a comment from Tomasz Kisiel, a transportation engineer at Wrocław University of Science and Technology in Poland: “Unfortunately, real people don’t behave in mathematically ideal ways. A large percentage of passengers do not follow the instructions given at the terminal […]”.

I would like to complement the comment by saying that, even if passengers would follow the rules given at the terminal, the situation remains complicated anyway.

Stefano Mainero
EPN Consulting and EPN Consulting Research & Innovation Founder & CEO

Article written by human beings without any use of AI. EPN Consulting Ltd. copyright 2024