FROM 1 October, travellers in the United States stand to benefit from United Airlines' low-cost shuttle between 10 cities on the west coast. A one-way ticket from San Francisco to San Diego, for example, is priced at only dollars 69 ( pounds 46). The airline may be the best value for a jaunt around the west coast, but whether it has the best procedure for getting you into your seat is another matter. 'Instead of filling the plane from the back to the front,' the airline says, 'it will be filled from the windows to the aisles. Customers with window seats will enter the plane first, then those with middle seats, then aisle seats.'

Wacky as it may sound to United's executives, when I travel with another person we prefer to board at the same time.

Options to the board-from- the-back policy include the CIS Scrum, which takes place on every Russian domestic flight I have ever been on (a consequence of a no pre-assigned seats policy); and the Gatwick Grab, afflicting charters delayed for four or more hours (whatever instructions are given, everyone tries to board the moment the flight is called). As far as I know, no one has tried boarding in alphabetical order, but perhaps one of United's competitors might like to try it.