Former UW grad student Jason Steffen got a wee bit irked on a flight a few years ago. Which led to this:
Using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo optimization algorithm and a computer simulation, I find the passenger ordering which minimizes the time required to board the passengers onto an airplane. The model that I employ assumes that the time that a passenger requires to load his or her luggage is the dominant contribution to the time needed to completely fill the aircraft. The optimal boarding strategy may reduce the time required to board and airplane by over a factor of four and possibly more depending upon the dimensions of the aircraft. I explore some features of the optimal boarding method and discuss practical modifications to the optimal. Finally, I mention some of the benefits that could come from implementing an improved passenger boarding scheme.
While you will not find the article in Phys Rev, it will hopefully be found in a future issue of the Journal of Air Transportation Management.