Why airlines aren't boarding planes the most efficient way

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Whenever you’re traveling somewhere by plane, you have to pack, get to the airport, go through security, find your gate and — in the last step before you can finally relax while being taken to your destination –board the aircraft.

“Boarding is one of the most difficult parts of air travel and frustrating to a lot of passengers,” said Leslie Josephs, CNBC’s airline reporter.

In the 1970s, Southwest Airlines’ average turn time, from the moment a plane arrives at the gate to the time it leaves, was only 10 minutes. It’s now closer to 45-55 minutes. Southwest has grown in popularity. Experts say that speeding up the boarding process is not a priority for airlines, as they have already monetized it. “The major airlines raised billions off their loyalty programs so it’s very important that they maintain them attractive enough for customers,” stated Josephs.

“So airlines are using that to generate more revenue and reward their best customers.

“Does that slow the process down?” Kerry said. “Maybe. Southwest has been testing concepts since the end of 2022 to improve its turnaround times. The company’s goal is to shave off two minutes.

“Having extra minutes at our scale with coming up on like 800 aircraft, you do the math —

adds up really quickly,” Parks said. The more we can turn aircraft on on time, and land them on the ground, the more reliable our service is for our customers. It also allows us more flights per day to keep costs down. CNBC flew to Atlanta to check on Southwest’s progress.