BETTERBOARDING IDEA

Business Traveller - - INBOX YOUR LETTERS - Jim Gibb, London

As a fre­quent Bri­tish Air­ways pas­sen­ger, I am de­lighted that there has fi­nally been some con­trol in­tro­duced on the board­ing process [since De­cem­ber 12, 2017]. This level of or­gan­i­sa­tion has been long over­due – on far too many flights I have wit­nessed chaos at the gates. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, long-haul flights were man­aged by the gate crew with a clear board­ing process based on ticket class – first, busi­ness then econ­omy, which ev­ery­one un­der­stood. But on short haul, es­pe­cially late-run­ning do­mes­tic flights, it was akin to sur­vival of the fittest as the gate crew quickly ab­di­cated any re­spon­si­bil­ity, leav­ing a mas­sive stam­pede.

How­ever, the new method also seems to have a few is­sues, and does not re­ally re­sult in swifter craft board­ing. The new process cre­ates five dis­tinct groups, who board in or­der start­ing with Group 1, flex­i­ble ticket hold­ing pas­sen­gers who have paid the most for their tick­ets; to Group 5, who have ob­tained the cheap­est tick­ets.

Now we have a Dis­ney-style queue sys­tem, which holds back the hordes as the af­flu­ent glide on – leav­ing the dis­af­fected masses in a walk of shame. But does this ap­proach make board­ing quicker? Not from what I can see.

As an al­ter­na­tive BA should con­sider the fol­low­ing: 1. The Group 1 pas­sen­gers board as a pri­or­ity – a rel­a­tively small group. 2. Pas­sen­gers board from the back, in or­der of those sit­ting at a win­dow then mid­dle then aisle.

Granted this may re­quire some ad­di­tional mar­shalling and work by gate staff, but if it al­lows a full flight to board with­out de­lay, and a swift turn­around, it can only be pos­i­tive for the air­line and pas­sen­ger alike.

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