Boarding Logic

Tracy Stewart, January 26, 2010
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. We just returned from the South via American and US Airways. Neither boarded us in a logical way. Why not board the plane starting with groups at the rear of the plane first, then do the front? Wouldn’t this speed up the boarding process?

    A. It definitely would make more sense. But airlines want to cater to their frequent flyers and those with status in their frequent flyer programs, so they board first class first (which is at the head of the plane), and then the ever-growing number of “elite” passengers, who usually sit at the front of the plane. These people clog up the aisles as they place luggage in the overheads. Some airlines have experimented with boarding window seat passengers first and then middle and aisle, but this method seems to have been a failure. Planes would board faster if only everyone would just step out of the aisle while they get settled. You can pretty easily put your luggage in the overhead even if you’re not blocking other passengers’ way. Airlines also give boarding priority to parents with young children, who seem to take longer than other passengers to get settled (which is why the airlines do this in the first place), but it always seems like they’re still getting sorted by the time the other passengers are allowed to board.

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