Commercial airline boarding

flyingron

Administrator
Management Council Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2007
Messages
24,003
Location
Catawba, NC
Display Name

Display name:
FlyingRon
I'm sitting here in a BA Club Europe (don't get me started on what a disaster that is) seat going from Santorini to Heathrow and just needed to rant about something that has happened twice on this trip that I'd not recently encountered.

Being based in a AA hub, I fly them a lot. This trip, I'm waiting to board my flight to Athens. Now American has NINE (plus concierge key, disabled preboarding, and service members) boarding groups. I've gotten use to people in the later groups hovering around the boarding lanes. I can see this pair of women with group 4 (Gold / AA credit card holders). We're in group 1 so I motion to Margy that we should be prepared to dodge these people when they start the regular boarding groups. Of course, the porters are now trying to preboard the wheel chair passengers and nobody is getting out of the way, so I pipe up "WHEELCHAIRS COMMING THROUGH, EVERYBODY MOVE LEFT." That got people paying attention. Then they board group 1. I start to move forward (many people telling me to go ahead for fixing the preboard) but these two chicks are still attempting to board and the spineless gate agent lets them. It's completely pointless to. Group 1 is first/business class. 2 and 3 there's hardly anybody in (it's the higher levels of AA's frequent flyer status who aren't in first/business, I'm in 3 when on the rare time I'm travelling coach) so these chicks aren't gaming anything by jumping the line. There's still going to be plenty of bin space in coach.

Then leaving Santorini today, they call group 1 and EVERYBODY storms the gate. Not only that they stuff all their crap in the Business Class overheads. Barely could find room for my rolly. Again, I blame spineless gate agents.

Of course, 9 boarding groups is silly. United has only 5. First is 1, and other priority is 2. They have signs all over that tell everybody in 3+ to just remain comfortably seated until called.
 
I've found that to be par for the course with most airline's and their respective boarding processes. People want to hurry and get on whether it's their turn or not, without care to others. I actually prefer Southwest's boarding process, as it seems to be fairly efficient - Pre-Boarding, A, B, and C. Like you say, the folks who desperately try to jump line aren't gaining anything.
 
Gotta ask why like 7 times to get to the root cause…

Why does everyone want on so fast? In REAL society the privileged board LAST, so they don’t have to be on the damn thing any longer than necessary.

The answer, as mentioned, OVERHEAD SPACE.

Why is there a lack of that? Because they charge extra to check bags. That simple. Charge for carryons, life gets simple.

Years ago the few weeks after the moron shoe bomber, airlines basically didn’t allow carry ons, life was great.

They don’t seem to be able to learn.
 
One reason I've been flying Southwest more even though they don't fly out of my local airport is their Boarding process. It's a self policing process since everybody has a number and they get checked by the other Pax when you look for your position.

Another is the seeming frequency of "Miracle Flights". You know, the ones wherre people need wheelchair assistance to board but miraculously are cured during the flight and can walk off unassisted at arrival. Might need that some day.
 
I have no sympathy for anyone booking with airlines today. You know the drill, misery had by all, and yet you go.

And if you have to do it for a job, get into a new profession.
 
If I was in charge there would be no overhead bins. If it can’t fit under the seat in front of you, it gets checked.

I could live with a compromise of overhead bins only aft of the emergency exit rows.

I would also find a way to make bags appear at baggage claim before the passengers get there, but I haven’t figured that out yet.
 
Which I adore because I fart on the way by! Makes me happy. Hold your judgement…. Ha!

Lol. Beat me to it. I also often board with later groups as I can usually just walk to my seat without standing in the cattle chute/jet way since most others have found their seat by then. My carry-on is a small backpack that easily fits under the seat.

It’s easy to find things to get angry about. I try my best to instead find the humor in those same things. Maybe instead of boarding in group 1, just sit back and watch all the silliness.
 
It’s all about the overhead space ,when you have 2or3 carry ons you want to be sure they all have a space. The cabin attendants are not going to challenge any one leaving a bag up front and then going to the back.
 
Another is the seeming frequency of "Miracle Flights". You know, the ones wherre people need wheelchair assistance to board but miraculously are cured during the flight and can walk off unassisted at arrival. Might need that some day.

This drives me insane at Oakland, as the pre-board line can run 20-30 deep now for SWA and only 2 or 3 wheelchairs. The whole point of preboard is that you need assistance down the jetway.

I assume these miscreants would have been part of the "jesus flight" number, and are just saving the precious wheelchairs and time -- so more efficient d-baggery on their part I suppose.

Spineless gate agents indeed. We need social credit scoring for airlines, all pooled, and a three strikes policy.
 
Why is there a lack of that? Because they charge extra to check bags. That simple.
It's not that simple.

As an airline employee, I can check my bags for free. I still avoid checking bags whenever possible because I don't want to spend the time it takes to check them and the claim them. Anyone with any status at the airline can check bags for free, too. Most of them also avoid checking bags for exactly the same reason.

Those who don't get free checked bags are also in later boarding groups so have a good chance of having to check their bags anyway once the bins are full.

People often incorrectly assume that the main purpose of the boarding procedure is to board quickly and efficiently. It is not. The main purpose is to give the frequent fliers the early boarding that they want so that they'll continue to be loyal to the airline to maintain their status and their early boarding priority.

Those who do check bags often complain about how long it takes for their bags to show up at baggage claim. Significantly increasing the number of checked bags, by whatever system you implement to reduce cabin bags, will only increase the check-in and baggage claim waits.
 
This drives me insane at Oakland, as the pre-board line can run 20-30 deep now for SWA and only 2 or 3 wheelchairs. The whole point of preboard is that you need assistance down the jetway.
The DoT's enforcement of the Air Carrier Access Act does not allow an airline to require an explanation or documentation of why a passenger is claiming the need for preboarding.
 
The DoT's enforcement of the Air Carrier Access Act does not allow an airline to require an explanation or documentation of why a passenger is claiming the need for preboarding.

Nor do I require the hot-buttered falsehood about the condition that allows them to skip down the jetway impersonating someone hale and healthy and sans assistance. But neither am I fooled.
 
Gosh so many things here, don’t forget the boarding group of “those needing additional time”. I will typically go to the gate when I’m there regardless of my group and usually the gate attendant doesn’t care. I do time the flight time and gate close time so usually if it’s gate closes 10 minutes before I would arrive 12-13 minutes before. I really dislike when I’m in the lounge and an announcement is made for boarding and when you get to the gate you’re standing around waiting for 10-20min.

The wheelchair is a free ride and expedited customs clearing, next time have a look while in line for customs, you’ll see it’s a certain group of people who figured it out haha.

For me, I don’t want to stand around, I don’t care if I’m first or last on the airplane, pretty much every airline will check your bags at the gate for free, nothing wrong with that. I rather check my bag than the bag not being near me.

When flying in J or F on wide-body aircraft, I expect the bin above me is mine, kind of annoying when others put their bags there, I don’t want someone rummaging through the locker or having any reason to open the bin with my stuff in it during the flight.

And yes I prefer to fly myself any day over sitting in a narrow body aircraft, dealing with the shouting by airport staff treating people with utterly disrespect (yes everyone can hear you - if you have a message make a sign and keep the mouth shut), absolutely terrible experience in my opinion, and without fail I tend to get seated by people who really should have booked 2 seats. Getting tired of the crap, in future I’ll prob call the purser and tell them I need to be rebooked on another flight but I tend to avoid domestic flights like the plague and I’d aim for an Asian or Middle Eastern airline anyday over the American ones.
 
Nor do I require the hot-buttered falsehood about the condition that allows them to skip down the jetway impersonating someone hale and healthy and sans assistance. But neither am I fooled.

It is not just passengers who need assistance who are eligible to pre-board. The requirements of the Air Carrier Access Act (14 CFR 382), as interpreted and enforced by the DoT, includes passengers that "need a specific seat assignment, additional time or assistance to board, stow accessibility equipment, or be seated." Many qualifying passengers show no obvious sign of their covered disability.

This is from a DOT document clarifying the implementation of the rule.

In the revised final rule published on May 13, 2008, the Department expanded the preboarding requirement to cover not only people who need a specific seat assignment or who need to stow their personal folding wheelchairs, but also to cover passengers that “need additional time or assistance to board, stow accessibility equipment, or be seated.” For a passenger to be entitled to pre boarding, that passenger must self-identify at the gate as being a person with a disability that needs to preboard for one of the above-listed reasons.

As is also stated, the passenger must self-identify. If a passenger says they qualify, the airline/agent can not challenge them or required proof or explanation.
 
Never, ever, ever have I seen a gate agent turn someone back for being in the wrong group.
And I’ve seen plenty jump the line.

Several times, people have placed luggage way at the front, leaving no room for those in seats 1-5.
Not a great plan, for when they are trying to get off.
 
Pre-Covid, Delta had really gotten their act together with checked baggage. I was traveling weekly and started to check my roll aboard on every flight. I could wait until after the storming herd if I wanted as I put my briefcase under the seat in front of me. It was great. It was particularly great going to Houston in the summer. It was a commuter flight and all the gate checkers got to wait in the jetway sauna while I sat in AC at baggage claim. I usually got my bags before they did.

I flew recently and did the same, total cluster. Bags took an hour to be unloaded, missed connection and caught Covid from being in the airport for so long.

New plan, no more commercial.
 
Pre-Covid, Delta had really gotten their act together with checked baggage. I was traveling weekly and started to check my roll aboard on every flight. I could wait until after the storming herd if I wanted as I put my briefcase under the seat in front of me. It was great. It was particularly great going to Houston in the summer. It was a commuter flight and all the gate checkers got to wait in the jetway sauna while I sat in AC at baggage claim. I usually got my bags before they did.

I flew recently and did the same, total cluster. Bags took an hour to be unloaded, missed connection and caught Covid from being in the airport for so long.

New plan, no more commercial.
Particularly in America, it seems like everytime you want to do something (take a commercial flight, go to a ball game, concert, etc), that the organization of said event takes the fun out of it through lack of organization and not keeping the customer in mind. Too many service workers entitled and expect a tip for being there and hey it’s not their fault it’s lack or managements fault. Doesn’t make any sense.
 
I was at a gate when they announced pre boarding, or platinum, or preferred diamond club or something. There was a large, extended family, maybe 20 members, that all got up and made a semicircle right at the gate. The guy sitting next to me said, “Wow, it’s like they never went to school.”
 
It's not that simple.

As an airline employee, I can check my bags for free. I still avoid checking bags whenever possible because I don't want to spend the time it takes to check them and the claim them. Anyone with any status at the airline can check bags for free, too. Most of them also avoid checking bags for exactly the same reason.

Those who don't get free checked bags are also in later boarding groups so have a good chance of having to check their bags anyway once the bins are full.

People often incorrectly assume that the main purpose of the boarding procedure is to board quickly and efficiently. It is not. The main purpose is to give the frequent fliers the early boarding that they want so that they'll continue to be loyal to the airline to maintain their status and their early boarding priority.

Those who do check bags often complain about how long it takes for their bags to show up at baggage claim. Significantly increasing the number of checked bags, by whatever system you implement to reduce cabin bags, will only increase the check-in and baggage claim waits.

I think this is it. Carry-on is the reason boarding takes forever, but the reason for so much carry-on is because the checked bag process sucks. I have Sky Priority with Delta and used to check my bag regularly just so I didn't have to think one bit about dealing with it while boarding/de-boarding. It usually worked out that my bag was waiting on me by the time I got to the claim in ATL, but the last few times I checked it, I had to wait 20+ minutes AFTER I had been walking for 20 minutes from gate to baggage claim. Not to mention that the baggage drop-off adds another 20-30 minutes before going through security, and NOT having a carry-on doesn't help with getting through security any faster.

Maybe that's the ticket - have a dedicated "one carry-on only" security line. In *theory* security would take 1/2 the time because there would be at least 1/2 the pieces of luggage to scan. Dunno.. The whole thing sucks, though, and I have a flight this evening. Sigh.
 
The overhead bin is the BANE of air travel. Back when all that was up there was a hat shelf, and what little carryon you were allowed had to go under the seat you could get on and off the plane in a reasonable time. Even with the bins, I hated to use it. I always checked bags until they started charging. Of course, now I'm in the stage of life where I only fly in situations where I can check for free (don't ride in the back of the bus no more).

I always thought that they should charge for the bins (like Spirit) but let people check for free.
 
I fly with a backpack or carryon that will fit under the seat. I refuse to use the overhead bins because I'm paranoid and worried someone would take my bag, either on purpose or by mistake. Other perks include full access to everything in my carryon at all times and ease of deplaning. I have checked a bag once and only once. Apparently, cast iron pans have to go in checked baggage, and after waiting for nearly an hour and a half to get it back at the baggage carousel at the end of the trip, I hope I never have to check a bag again.
 
I always hated how folks would stand right up against the checked bag belt waiting for the conveyor to even start.... a wall of people blocking access so you can hardly get your bag off the belt if you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it from behind them all. When I was younger and travelling airlines a lot I'd get so aggravated I'd pretty much just shove my way through grab my bag, and didn't much care how many knees I'd take out swinging by big heavy checked suitcase off the belt.
 
We flew SWA out to Reno. Remember, SWA doesn’t charge for checked bags. We each checked our rollers, because we travel with full size toiletries.

Wife’s purse and my backpack are strapped together and occupying a bin space. Not two, not 1.5, but one bin space. Some lady in group 3 looked in our bin and asked “who’s backpack is this?” Nobody answered here, so she stopped the congo line, grabbed the combo out of the bin, demanded, in raised voice, to know whose backpack and purse this was because it didn’t deserve a bin space and she needed that space for her roll aboard.

I looked up at her and calmly informed her if the bag didn’t belong to her, she just committed theft by taking with a planeful of witnesses. When the FA arrived, she was given the choice of staying on the flight or taking another flight but that choice was going be made for her if she didn’t immediately put the backpack/purse back where she found it.
 
United has only 5. First is 1, and other priority is 2. They have signs all over that tell everybody in 3+ to just remain comfortably seated until called.
Except United doesn't count Global Services, 1K, Active Military, and disabled as groups. :D

But I do agree on spineless or clueless agents. Rarely have I seen them turn people back.
 
I always hated how folks would stand right up against the checked bag belt waiting for the conveyor to even start.... a wall of people blocking access so you can hardly get your bag off the belt if you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it from behind them all. When I was younger and travelling airlines a lot I'd get so aggravated I'd pretty much just shove my way through grab my bag, and didn't much care how many knees I'd take out swinging by big heavy checked suitcase off the belt.

There are a couple of airports outside the US, where they have a 1 meter clear area next to the belt. AND there are people telling people to move back out of that area.

People are morons as a group. It works SO MUCH better to step back 3 feet. Everyone can see the belt, and when their bag is there, step up and grab it with space.

The ones that get me are checking the tags of blue, red, tan bags, and then theirs is black. HUH???? If you have a black bag, a red one will NOT be yours.
 
The overhead bin is the BANE of air travel. Back when all that was up there was a hat shelf, and what little carryon you were allowed had to go under the seat you could get on and off the plane in a reasonable time. Even with the bins, I hated to use it. I always checked bags until they started charging. Of course, now I'm in the stage of life where I only fly in situations where I can check for free (don't ride in the back of the bus no more).

I always thought that they should charge for the bins (like Spirit) but let people check for free.

And free carry one, but charging for checked means people carry on HUGE bags.
 
Gosh so many things here, don’t forget the boarding group of “those needing additional time”. I will typically go to the gate when I’m there regardless of my group and usually the gate attendant doesn’t care. I do time the flight time and gate close time so usually if it’s gate closes 10 minutes before I would arrive 12-13 minutes before. I really dislike when I’m in the lounge and an announcement is made for boarding and when you get to the gate you’re standing around waiting for 10-20min.

Sometime count the people that arrive at the gate in a wheelchair versus the number of people that get off at the final destination in a wheelchair (they have to wait for others to deplane).
 
Sometime count the people that arrive at the gate in a wheelchair versus the number of people that get off at the final destination in a wheelchair (they have to wait for others to deplane).
The arriving, check-in, security, boarding process is more physically taxing than the deplaning, bag claim, and departing process. There will always be some who need the extra help on the former but not the later.
 
In a perfect world the airline would pre-place the carry ons before boarding would start. But it would be too expensive, people would be worried about their belongings, etc.

So why not place 2 dividers in each overhead bin to create (3) labeled reserved spaces. If you have paid for (or some loyalty thing) you get on dedicated overhead space. If someone doesn't purchase or reserve it that sub compartments goes empty. Then board everyone from back to front that has a dedicated carryon bin or some variant like that. The super airline computer can ensure your bin is within a row or two at worst. If you have a small bag and backpack that fit into your compartment or jacket or whatever who the hell cares. Remove humanity from the decision making process LOL
 
There was an Aeroflot plane I was on once where you boarded through the baggage compartment and placed your bags on the shelf and then you proceeded up the steps to your seat.
 
So why not place 2 dividers in each overhead bin to create (3) labeled reserved spaces.
Many passengers don't put anything in the overhead. Does their reserved space go empty?

The volume of carry-on bags is high because passengers prefer to keep those bags with them instead of checking them. This might be because of cost, extra time to check and claim, keeping the items more secure, and ensuring that the bags aren't delayed. All valid reasons. What's more important? The preference of most passengers to avoid checking or the inconvenience that so many carry-ons cause?

The airlines and aircraft manufacturers are doing something to lesson the inconvenience. Both Boeing and Airbus are now building airplanes with larger bins that can take rollaboards on their side, lined up like books on a shelf. That allows nearly every passenger to bring a rollaboard without gate-checking. United is in the process of converting their entire narrowbody fleet to these bigger bins. They've only converted CRJ-700s into 50-seat CRJ-550s with large luggage closets which also allow every passenger to bring a rollaboard into the cabin with the valet checking that is usually required on airplanes of that size.

Imposing a policy which forces everybody to follow your own preferences is not a good solution.
 
Back
Top