Let’s face it – boarding a plane is seldom an enjoyable experience.
Boarding flights can be a very messy and difficult experience, especially when you consider the number of attempted queue-jumpers, the people who can’t find their (clearly marked) seats and those who expect to be able to bring on more luggage than their allowance permits.
I’m not sure why this story caused such consternation when the BBC reported it a while back. They report that British Airways is going to introduce boarding based on the price you paid for your ticket. That’s certainly one way of deciding who gets on first!
On the other hand, if flights were boarded strictly based on where you’re sitting on the plane, then you could board those people who go right to the back of the plane first, then the middle, then the front.
But that would mean First Class and Business Class passengers don’t board first, which probably wouldn’t go down well!
So I think the plan to board strictly by airline status and price is a neat compromise. Once passengers get used to it, they may stop turning up at the gate over an hour in advance and creating a massive queue.
That is, if it’s enforced in the first place.
I fly to and from Barcelona every month and boarding there is often like a rugby scrum. A delayed flight means everyone is present at the gate and then they just announce boarding and it turns into a scene from the ‘Hunger Games’!
As someone who is grateful for their Gold BA Executive Club status, it makes a real difference to be able to board with the first few passengers. Most of my trips mean I only take hand luggage allowance with me. But if I wait until the end to board, there’s never enough overhead luggage space and things get awkward.
Which brings me to my next and most important point – the fact that onboard luggage allowances seem to be far too generous for most planes. I fly a couple or more times every month and more and more, the cabin crew have to announce that there’s not enough space for overhead luggage.
We then end up wasting valuable time moving bags around, explaining to the passengers who weren’t listening that they have to put smaller bags under the seat in front of them, and generally causing a fuss before take-off.
And don’t get me started on the people sitting in economy who dump their bags in business class overhead bins as they walk past! Thoughtless doesn’t begin to describe it.
If airlines (and BA in particular) could actually enforce the boarding rules – both order of boarding and luggage allowance – at the gate, this would make things a lot easier. Passengers would know what to do and when, making airline travel a little easier for everyone.
The bottom line is that, even with assigned seating, passengers somehow feel there’s a shortage of resources and so they behave very irrationally when boarding. I’m not sure how much this new boarding arrangement will change things, but I’ll be interested to see what happens.