I figure it won’t be long before anyone with any lean knowledge is going to be banned from airports. Airlines must be pretty tired of our criticism by now.
I'm in Dallas to the Association for Manufacturing Excellence conference. In the Detroit airport, I saw something just a tiny bit like lean.
As I waited for my American Airlines flight, I observed the action at the AirTran gate. At 2:20 pm, long before the AirTran plane arrived, the gate agent was telling the scheduled passengers in the "human inventory holding area" (HIHA)that AirTran was going to have a quick turn – essentially reducing changeover time between deplaning and embarking passengers. She said it would take 20 minutes and at 2:50 precisely she was going to shut the plane door.
She went on to say, “I need you to…” buy water or a drink if you wanted one because the plane was going to be full, go to the bathroom, get your boarding pass ready. She said she was going to line them up according to seat number and asked for their cooperation. These were all the external activities she had probably seen people perform during the actual changeover. (I thought she’d repeat this for later arrivals to the gate, but she didn’t.)
When the plan was docking, she reminded people what the plan was and started them lining up, directing them to an area where they wouldn’t get in the way of the deplaning passengers. I wonder how they were being shooed off the plane on the other side of the changeover. I had to board my flight before the AirTran flight hit the magic 2:50 start time, but I suspect that the quick turn was more successful than the American turn was – darn – I should have timed ours, but didn’t think of it.