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Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications

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November 1, 2023
Written on . Posted in Math Curriculum, Math Modeling.

Boarding a Plane Window Seats First, A Math Modeling Problem

There are many potential stressors that can pop up when you travel, but possibly one of the biggest happens when it’s time to board an airplane.

If you’ve done any air travel, you likely know exactly what this very unique kind of stress feels like… Shuffling down the aisle only to discover you have to climb over someone (or two people!) to get to your seat next to the window. Or doing the dance where the person seated in the aisle gets up and everyone in line has to do a choreographed shift to make room for them while you slip past. And, of course, consider the time it takes to get all 100+ people seated in the correct seats. It definitely can be stressful.

Well, United Airlines will now allow economy passengers in window seats to board before those in middle and aisle seats. United estimates this new boarding process is expected to save up to two minutes of boarding time. And it very likely will be a lot less stressful. 

This could have happened years ago if the airline industry listened to students who solved the 2007 MCM Airplane Seating Problem or even our 2022 IMMC Boarding and Disembarking a Plane Problem

Check out this list of 10 interesting math modeling modules for even more real-world applications of math modeling.

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The Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications is an award-winning non-profit organization whose mission is to improve mathematics education for students of all ages. Since 1980, COMAP has worked with teachers, students, and business people to create learning environments where mathematics is used to investigate and model real issues in our world.