Indian Airline Will Start Deplaning Passengers From The Catering Door In The Galley

Southwest began flying in 1971. They had 4 Boeing 737s, but they’d largely been drained of cash by legal battles getting off the ground (they weren’t a party to the airline agreement not to fly from Dallas Love Field but other carriers wanted to prevent them from doing so). They were losing money initially and nearly out of cash, so they unloaded one of the aircraft.

At the time Southwest offered 14 flights each way between Dallas and Houston; 7 between Dallas and San Antonio; and had just launched Houston – San Antonio as well.

To keep the airline going they committed to turn aircraft in 10 minutes, instead of the normal 50-60. That meant deplaning out the back of the aircraft onto the tarmac while passengers for the next flight boarded from the front.

The entire team was “on it” from removing trash to catering peanuts. Flight attendants were cleaning the cabin (and they still do) and so were pilots. Until 1986 pilots could taxi out while passengers were still getting seated.

  • The 10 minute turn is gone but quick turns matter because a delay of just a few minutes per flight means less efficiently scheduling and the need for more costly aircraft.

  • Airlines are trying to optimize schedules for connecting flights, they don’t just push each flight later in the day. Customers want certain times, their competitors fly certain times, there’s a scheduling inefficiency that derives from small delays.

Ryanair has stairs built into its 737s, they can deplane faster and at some airports they can save on fees too.

India’s IndiGo though is trying something that I’ve never seen done before: using a third aircraft exit to speed up deplaning. The galley door often used for catering will be used to disembark the aircraft.

In some countries, the right-hand side of the aircraft is reserved for non-passenger activities like catering, and cargo handling but IndiGo says it will be able to use a third exit ramp at around 70 per cent of its operations where remote aircraft stands are used.

IndiGo estimates the current turnaround time is between 30 to 35 minutes and the airline hopes to shave three to five minutes off by adding the third ramp.

The deplaning process of an aircraft turn, IndiGo says, could be cut almost in half through use of this third door. That seems a stretch. But every minute matters to profitability – squeezing out an extra flight, getting flights out on time, or even just ensuring all flights are scheduled at a time the passenger wants to buy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary- In 1971 Southwest was NOT DEPLANING passengers from the back. Back then they were DISEMBARKING them. People have been disembarking planes up until 6-7 years ago when some lazy Americans decided to change another word in the English language.

  2. Ummm, I don’t know about mainline, but when I worked large regional jets like the BAe-146, we catered through the right front door while the passengers deplaned and boarded. That way the A FA could immediately begin restocking when the last passenger stepped off. I suppose if it’s possible to stock from the aft doors, it could work… We did the same with contracted Boeing 727s and 737s and the FAs loved it because they were gaining time on turns since their inbounds from DEN were almost always late…

  3. I really wish more airports and airlines in the US would deplane from the back as well- WN boards and deplanes from two doors at BUR and it’s amazing how fast people get on and off. (Meanwhile at BUR, JetBlue boards 45 minutes before departure using one door.)

  4. Unfortunately, this will only work at airports that can get two jet bridges at the gate at once. We used to do that at times in my previous career and people complained about getting off on the ramp (next the APU on many aircraft) in the weather. There’s always a few… It also ties up an agent at those stairs until the last person using them is off, which can affect turn times.

  5. Awesome idea. Most passengers would strive to receive the Delta One® experience with accompanying status. Delta One passengers expect privileged special services like getting off their aircraft ten seconds faster through the catering portal along with the used tray tables, discarded passenger refuse, soiled baby diapers, and contaminated air sickness bags tossed from their previous flight.

  6. hasn’t this already been done by the Jet Blue FA who quit in a hissy and carried a beer with him?

  7. If we’re now going to use the term “deplaning”, will boarding then be changed to “planing”?

  8. Indigo is a pretty large airline and expanding globally. Could you perhaps have included the name in the title of this report ?

  9. @Maskedposter-The answer is yes. according to Newtons laws of physics, every action has an opposite reaction. Thus, before someone can be deplaning, they have to be planing first.

    Gary- on the serious side, you are a successful blogger so, also an influencer. Please don’t be part of the demise of the English language. The word deplaning is only heard here in the USA and came about a few years back when a few illiterate flight attendants made up that word because they were not trained correctly to use the word disembark. Please help us save the English language

  10. I guess you can’t alight from an aircraft, TSA might think you have a lighter and setting something on fire.

  11. There is something called “American English”. There’s a dictionary for AE. AE evolves & sometimes infuses with other languages. Most new devices ask you which language you’d like to use & there are several choices of English including Australian etc. Our language is evolving rapidly these days.

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