Generally speaking, the airport is a breeding ground for less than stellar interactions with strangers. They carry smelly food onto the plane, they take their shoes off any chance they get, and there’s seemingly always someone standing smack dab in the middle of a walkway. To no one’s surprise, that last observation becomes much worse when there are multiple people crowding the way, which typically happens when a flight is called to board.
I’m on edge already, and I can feel my blood begin to boil as the gate agent grabs the intercom and asks the herd of people forming a wall in front of the path to the ticket scanner if they can all sit down until their boarding group has been announced. No one budges.
I look down at my ticket and see “Main Cabin 1” as my listed section, and I wonder to myself if, being in such an early boarding group, I should make my way over to the line. Before I can make a decision, the gate agent calls the opening group to board – “those who need extra time or assistance” – and I elect to remain seated for now.
The next group is called – “Military Personnel/Active Duty” – and, still seated, I creep to the edge of my seat in anticipation. Then the third group is called – “First Class/Diamond Medallion” – and I brace for the next call.
The fourth group is announced – “Comfort Plus” – and I tilt my head and wonder who came up with this system. Then the fifth group is invited to board – “Sky Medallion” – and what followed surprised even me: I took the side of the walkway-clogging airport people.
The sixth boarding group was called – “Main Cabin 1” – and as I finally stood up to enter the line, nearly everyone that had been crowding the gate moved forward to scan their ticket as well. Of course in a perfect world these people should have been elsewhere until the ticketing agent specifically announced their boarding group, but an airline choosing to identify a boarding group with the the number “1” only to position it sixth to enter the aircraft does itself no favors in the process.
I’m sure changing the boarding procedure is not something airlines can accomplish overnight, but tweaking it in the future has a chance of producing smaller human traffic jams in front of the gate.
While I’m not sure the incentive is great enough for airlines to feel the need to alter what’s in place, unless some type of numbering change occurs any airline wanting to have their cake and eat it too isn’t going to get much sympathy from me.