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Carry-on data called key to jet loading

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Looking to save money and time, the airline industry has for years tried to come up with the fastest way to seat passengers.

Now an academic study suggests airlines could cut boarding time by seating passengers based on how many carry-on bags they are hauling.

The study from Clarkson University School of Business in New York recognizes that a lot of boarding time is wasted as passengers shuffle around the cabin looking for space to stow their carry-on bags in the overhead compartment.

Under a boarding method suggested by R. John Milne, an assistant professor of engineering management, passengers are seated from the back of the plane to the front and from the windows to the aisles.

Milne also suggests airlines seat passengers in a way that spreads the carry-on luggage throughout the plane. In each row, the airline would seat at least one passenger with two bags, one passenger with one bag and one passenger with no bags.

The study, published in this month’s Journal of Air Transport Management, found this boarding method can cut seating time by an average of 3 percent.

So far, the boarding process has been tested only on a computer simulator.

Pony up for a quieter flight?

If a ban on cellphone calls on commercial planes is lifted, a majority of travelers said they would be willing to pay extra to sit in a "quiet zone" on the planes.

That is the finding of a poll of more than 3,400 fliers by the travel website Airfarewatchdog.com: 53 percent said they would pay to sit in a "quiet zone."

The Federal Communications Commission is now accepting public comment on a proposal to lift the 22-year-old ban on cellphone calls on commercial airlines. Delta, JetBlue and Southwest say they will not allow cellphone calls even if the ban is lifted.

–Hugo Martin / Los Angeles Times

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