View Full Version : Boarding Chaos

15th Jun 2008, 13:52
Thinking about what I really disliked about many of my most recent flights, I came to the conclusion that it's the disorganised nature of the boarding process. Airlines/handling agents frequently seem to have difficulty getting this right. EasyJet, although not alone, is, for me, a prime offender. For example, on recent flights from Stansted and Madrid there was chaos at the gates as agents announced first "Speedy Boarders", then those needing assistance, followed by group A and then group B. I had to negotiate my way at both airports through crowds blocking access to the gate. Now, of course, passengers themselves are primarily to blame for not remaining seated until their category is called but the airlines/their agents must, by now, have realised that significant numbers of passengers are going to ignore pleas to remain seated. Although Ryanair also has this problem where there are no separate "priority" and "non-priority" lines, as is sometimes the case, say, at Valencia, it shows how it can be done (for example, at Belfast City, where - in my experience - boarding is always orderly).
I'd be interested to hear from those in the industry about the degree to which this is a recognised problem and about any ideas designed to make this aspect of flying more pleasant.

15th Jun 2008, 16:47
Look, take a tip. After extensive positioning on Ryanair for the last year, here's how to do it. Whatever you do, don't be an early boarder, and NEVER pay for the 'privilege'! As you sit there, and the FB comes gasping down the aisle, barely able to squeeze it's over large carcase between the seats, you just KNOW it's coming to the seat next to you....the middle seat, and it's going to smell, and its bingo wings will be jabbing into your ribs! So what exactly has your 'Priority Boarding' got you? Even if the aeroplane is 95% full, you can stroll aboard last, or near to last, and stroll down the aisle, carefully marking location of squawking babies, rowing couples, drunks, people spilling over into the empty seat, and avoid. And very often the CC, to get everybody seated quickly, will direct you into a kept-empty-so-far overwing exit seat.
('Tips for travelling on Ryanair No. 23')

And whatever you do, smile, even if you've got a headache, smile, sitdown and shuddup. The cabin crew are on a monstrous long multi-sector day, they got up at 'O God not another one' O'clock, they have headaches, they are pre-menstrual, just sit there and shuddup, OK?
('Tips for travelling on Ryanair No. 2')

15th Jun 2008, 19:28
When I fly I try to go into "traveller coma", expect nothing and be happy when things go smoothly. After years of being a passenger, I would have an early heart attack if I got upset everytime it goes wrong. Just think of it next time you fly, in all of the different areas, check-in, security, boarding calls etc. does it not feel sometimes that the staff are doing it for the first time? Baggage at LHR on the wrong belt for example, would you expect that they would have cracked it after what, 40 years of operations? Delays, almost always, there are no concrete information, if any at all etc. Small things, but you would think it would be rectified by now.

I almost travel to destination a day before if I have business meetings as flying is as reliable as TomToms arrival time when travelling on the M3 and M25.

PS! "Traveller coma" is the same state as when you stand in queue for hours at EuroDisney with your kids for a 30 second ride. Just make sure you turn up at the right time, no liquids, laptop in or out, smile and make no fuzz.

16th Jun 2008, 11:01
Few years ago, believe it was Kuwait Airways, they announced would be boarding by seat number and would passengers row 30-40 or whatever please board. Started to read my newspaper then look up again and I was only one left seating. Every passenger stood up and tried push on board and nobody tried to stop them.

16th Jun 2008, 11:05
It does seem to be down to the airport.
Flying with Virgin from Gatwick, its just a scrum, fighting and pushing to get on, slowing up people as they fill the luggage lockers whilst before them empty plane as they are holding up the rest of the pax, however, again with Virgin, flying out of MCO, organised priority boarding and row by row loading.

16th Jun 2008, 17:40
The predominant action of staff at boarding gates these days is to:
Announce the boarding in the correct sequence stated by the carrier. So Assisted/Premium cabin if applicable/Back Rows and then work forward or the check-in sequence groups used by EZY and so on.
THEN allow anyone to board in any sequence, as long as their boarding pass is valid for the flight. Ignore the behaviour of those that stampede the gate and hustle past. DON'T tell the person that they are boarding out of sequence.I have found this in the UK irrespective of airport and carrier. In the last year I have used LHR, LGW, LTN, MAN, IOM, travelling in premium cabins long haul, regular domestic and LCC.

It's a scrum and my assumption (built up over the past ten years) is that the gate staff have had too many bad experiences with rude pax to want another one. As long as they all get on with valid boarding cards - then they have done their job.

Welcome to 21st century air travel and, despite the reduction in traffic in the next years during the recession, I do not expect this to change.

18th Jun 2008, 11:24
Fastest boarding I've ever seen was on Domestic Routes in Korea because:

1. Everything was usually bang on time.
2. No boarding cards as such - just a paper slip for the Bar Code reader... beep-beep-beep.
3. Nobody carried huge amounts of bags into the cabin - didn't need to since the bags usually made the carousel before you did... pop your stuff under the seat or in the overhead... click-click-click
4. Everyone sat down quickly, nobody got in other people's way, courtesy personified.
5. Doors closed - push back.

A few minutes beginning to end... :ok:

18th Jun 2008, 11:51
As Rainboe rightly says - always board last. Pre-selected seats - avoid the scrum.
Anything goes seating - pick who you want to sit next to. I can guarantee there will always be a couple who take the window and the aisle near the front thinking no-one will take the middle - and with me around invariably they are wrong. At which point one of them moves and I get the aisle near the front.

18th Jun 2008, 14:41
The layout of the gate itself can also play a big part in the boarding process running smoothly or not. Having a closed off gate area where people can be boarded as they enter, then sit and wait is a huge help to the airlines as it allows passenegrs to be processed whilst cleaning/catering etc is going on, thus any missing passengers can be found earlier. This then ususally free's up a member of staff to stand by the door to moniter who is boarding once the calls have been made, this is usually enough for people to just wait rather than jumping up as soon as the tannoy has gone "bing bong" before a word has been spoken !!

Open gate areas don't allow for such control and staff members are normally all too busy trying to reconcile the passengers and tag buggies/bags at the gate as well as checking passports to really have enough time to moniter people boarding in the correct order. Alot of the time too, people will just come and stand at the front of the gate in an open gate area (and we know how the British will automatically go and stand in a queue), and despite many attempts to get them to move away, they usualy fall on deaf ears - probably these people think the plane will go without them if they are not standing with-in 2 feet of the gate !!.

Then there are also the people who stand up as soon as the doors are opened, before any announcment is even made, this then has a knock on effect (like domino's falling, but in reverse) of everyone else standing up too and further clogging up the gate area.

For the gate staff, it is usually better to get everyone through as trying to get people to stand aside, just makes the problem worse as those who should board first are trying to push through, so just easier and quicker to get everyone on rather than argue with people - probably not the right thing to do, but schedules have to be kept and the airline bean counters really don't give 2 hoots as long as the plane leaves on time.

I have found in my experience that charter and lo-co airlines tend to be more disorganised probably due to the types of passengers they carry compared to a normal scheduled airline, which usually has more frequent travellers who know the score and know what to do.


18th Jun 2008, 19:47
Having a closed off gate area where people can be boarded as they enter, then sit and wait is a huge help to the airlines as it allows passengers to be processed whilst cleaning/catering etc is going on, thus any missing passengers can be found earlier.Oh dear Leezyjet, there you go speaking good truths and sensible ideas again. Please do try and restrain yourself. Surely you must know that the folks that recently rebuilt LTN ensured that there would be a minimum of such gates? Not to mention NO travellators as they would cost far too much money.

Also, to be fair, I think that gate staff are often rushing from one boarding to the next and being able to get pax into an enclosed area and then monitor them for 15 minutes - is just not going to happen. It is one of those elements that boarders on the Law of Diminishing Returns. Reduce staffing to save money - but then have more trouble processing pax in a short time and you might have to delay the departure and costs go up.

19th Jun 2008, 08:06
Having a closed off gate area where people can be boarded as they enter, then sit and wait is a huge help to the airlines as it allows passengers to be processed whilst cleaning/catering etc is going on, thus any missing passengers can be found earlier.

Ah, I can see you've never been to London City Airport then, where this is the normal mode of operation.

It's an absolute bloody nightmare being herded into a little "pre-board" room :{

Leave us in the lounge until you're ready for us to enter the plane!

19th Jun 2008, 10:46
It was so nice last year being put into a pre-boarding room with wife and 2 year old along with 120 others - and seating for maybe 40. After just over an hour of standing and trying to entertain the 2 year old, I came to the conclusion this maybe wasnt the greatest of ideas.

19th Jun 2008, 11:42
Traymat made an interesting one:
When I fly I try to go into "traveller coma", expect nothing and be happy when things go smoothly.
I, too, go into this. I really couldn't give a damn what happens- I'm 'floating' through it. Just be nice to the cabin crew, smile, and shuddup and let it all happen around you. It's the only way to keep your sanity. I do find a child's tantrums does break through, and I would dearly like to strangle it. That's one of the few things that really destroys a journey-obnoxious children. Airlines won't do the obvious which is have a soundproofed section where tantrumers can be consigned and strapped down. It annoys me they can make everybodys' nerves raw on a journey and make it go from being a zen-like, comatose experience, to 'can I strangle that child without anybody seeing me?' quandary. That is why I board last and put half a plane-length between me and a brat wrestling with its mother. Those pre-boarders are wondering how they got to lose that lottery!

19th Jun 2008, 12:03
Rainboe - well said that man.

Some very valid and useful tips there. I have always been an advocater of the board last technique not for the reasons stated but more to do with the fact of why stand in a queue at boarding for 20 mins then sit on the plane for a further 20 mins when you can quietly sup up your pint then make your way to the gate for immediate boarding and minimal of fuss.

19th Jun 2008, 12:04
No offence meant to those with reduced mobility, but it always tickles me how fast some people with sticks /crutches etc can move when a gate opens. I've even been pushed out of the way by a marauding lady with a walking stick.:suspect:

Why the rush to get on the plane anyway? I like to stroll casually on board and take my seat, be it allocated or the LCoco rush. :cool: It's not as if someone will steal your seat - or is there somethink I should know?

Also why do people on LoCo flights always leave the middle seat empty. Bit selfish really!!:=

Oh the joys of flying.


19th Jun 2008, 13:14
A sound proofed section would be second choice to a soundproofed container in the hold.

19th Jun 2008, 15:14
Sorry folks, I was think of LHR with nice big gate rooms with plenty of seats - not these poxy little regional landing strips trying to play airports !! :E

A buddy of mine when travelling lo-co, sits down and the first thing they pick up is the barf bag, open it up and then pretends to be feeling airsick - claims to have around a 90% sucess rate of keeping at least the middle seat free even on fairly full flights !!.


19th Jun 2008, 19:03
It's all down to human nature and insufficient staff with authority prepared to upset the paying punter.

Boarding at IAD on Tuesday in the First/Club line [clearly marked and taped off] I was preceded by a family from "East of Cyprus" travelling Economy who blithely denied having seen the notice ... and my [email protected]'s a kipper. Nobody said anything, of course, like "go to the back of the line", but I did manage to achieve "Carry-On Bag Accidental Impact" with husband :E

19th Jun 2008, 19:34
Flew Heathrow to Vienna on Monday with Austrian. Different experience, seats allocated. They boarded from the rear, it was an Airbus A320. So picture the scene, rows (and forgive me I can't recall the numbers) 18 to 25 are called and everyone piles through. Crew send them back one by one "Sir, perhaps you didnt hear the announcement, we called Rows 18 to 25 and you're in Row 8" Classic, they soon got the message. Plane boarded in three stages all very orderly.

Returned from Vienna to Luton on Easyjet. My PA had very kindly booked me Speedy Boarding. So the SB were called, late as ever I strolled into the lounge, decided I couldnt be bothered to fight my way between all the B's and A's so took my turn. Was pretty much last on aircraft, strolled up to the crew in row 12, asked if she minded if I sat there, and took my seat in an emergency exit. Why pay more?

23rd Aug 2008, 13:02
More boarding chaos with easyJet.
At Gatwick many passengers hadn't even entered the lounge at the gate (you know, the ones at which your boarding pass and passport are checked before you can enter) before Speedy Boarders, SA and group A were called. From outside this lounge in the queue we could hear our category being called but had no way of boarding. I hadn't paid for Speedy Boarding but can imagine that some who had would be furious.
At Madrid there was only one staff member at the gate. Lots of people were milling around. The categories were announced one at a time and a cheap-looking object (A4 size) with the appropriate letter(s) was momentarily held up. Passengers who had just arrived at the gate area would have had no clue which category was boarding. Why can't this be displayed on the monitor at the gate?
The "boarding experience" with easyJet is a powerful factor in my avoiding them if possible (once Ryanair start STN-MAD there'll be less need for me to consider easyJet).
I'm still reading reviews on www.airlinequality.com (http://www.airlinequality.com) which make similar critical comments. Are you reading this, Andy?

jetset lady
23rd Aug 2008, 13:39
I had to laugh when I saw this thread. It reminded me of an occasion about a year ago when, on arriving at the aircraft, we found the passengers all gathered round the boarding gate despite the fact the flight was on time. We had to fight our way through and one, very well to do lady, took particular umbrage at us "pushing in". She insisted that we should wait in the queue as we couldn't go anywhere without her anyway. It was with great pleasure that I explained that, actually, we could go without her, however, she definitely couldn't go without us!


24th Aug 2008, 07:27
If I have to travel Lo Co, I do usually pay for speedy boarding, as invariably, if I get on last, I end up with all the drunks on a stag night, or the sick baby, or the nutter.

At least if I am near the front it's generally not too bad.

Much prefer allocated seats and proper service.... (Ah the days when BMI did afternoon tea, with scones and clotted cream).

Also ALWAYS act politely to CC, god knows how they put up with some of the SLF, especially on easyJet into NCL on a Friday night!

24th Aug 2008, 08:37

That is why I board last and put half a plane-length between me and a brat wrestling with its mother.

I'm sure the poor mother struggling with a child, who has just as much right to travel as you do, is also overjoyed at the thought of having a supercillious miseryguts such as you sitting next to her.

Works both ways on Public Transport.

25th Aug 2008, 10:19
Exactly Clareprop!
Reminds me of boarding a flight DXB to MAN, waiting to pre-board with my 6 month old, when the usual fat, sweaty, bald, stressed for no reason, self-important British male in ill-fitting business suit tries pushing through by walking over pushchair, just to then have to step away and let us through. Also somewhat like the obnoxious woman who said to us 'I hope your child doesn't cry all flight', and then proceeded to keep the whole cabin awake by snoring like a walrus.
There are many irritiating people on aircraft, but those with children are just part of life. Aircraft are after all, just a form of public transport. Of course, the British are well known for being child haters...

25th Aug 2008, 17:42
When I fly I try to go into "traveller coma", expect nothing and be happy when things go smoothly.

Thats exactly what I do, and I find its the best way to travel. Turn up on time, check in, have a pint, get onboard and get off at the other end. If that can be achieved without a major delay...then good on the lot of them. Their job is done... I'm a happy bunny.

The 'speedy' / priority boarding thing is a load of Cacky-Poo. To be honest the EZY way has worked fine for me ex LTN (and other stations) more than once. I check in early, and get the 'A' line boarding card (or whatever it is), have that pint...go to the gate when called, and generally end up getting out of the gate before the scrum.

It amazes me sometimes why people make this travel lark such a big deal. Unless there really is a particular seat on a 737 that you prefer (like a faithful bar stool) then relax....as long as you are where you should be, when you should be..then it won't leave without ya

25th Aug 2008, 18:41
At least you don't get pax standing in the aisles I experienced on a flight on Air Kampuchea from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap back in 1993. That was chaotic.

25th Aug 2008, 20:03
Hubby & I love people watching,especially in airports.:)....Makes for a good 20 minutes or so of entertainment,whilst we sit there and observe the hilarious antics of some of the passengers.
The "bing bong" of the announcement as the flight is called we reckon is the best bit !!!...rugby/scrum/carnage springs to mind...:}
It's quite a nice experience to board just about last.
We usually give the airbridge a few minutes to clear too,before heading through the gate...also guarantees us not get wacked in the chops with a backpack/rollaboard/kitchen sink on the way to our seats.:ok:

All Ahead Full
26th Aug 2008, 11:29
Of course the other thing that has also to be mentioned that eveni though you may be allowed through the gate first, speedy boarder (never used) or with children, have done a few times, this all goes wrong, when you find yourself on a bus at the other side of the gate.

Saw this once returning from Vienna, and got on the bus with my wife, and two small children, to see people getting off the bus, and running the aircraft, unbelievable!

Gp Capt Bhanerjee
31st Aug 2008, 07:52
Most of you are grappling with European discomforts. The other day, I boarded a Jet Airways (9W) flight at Madras. We were bussed out to the tarmac, and there was one set of stairs each for the forward and rear door. Being in Row 25, I headed for the rear stairs and got into the cabin as one of the first pax. However, there were already pax running for Row 27 who had come up the front stairs. In the next few minutes, there was total chaos, as at least 50% had entered throught the wrong door. What on earth are the people they employ to tear off the boarding card stub at the bottom of the stairways thinking?

31st Aug 2008, 08:25
Actually paid for SB with EJ the other week and thought Id won LOTTO! Gatwick gate 11 (I think) has no lounge, so one Q's in the walkway; stand too far right and you'll be on the moving walkway en route to gate 23!. To be fair to the ground staff they walked down the line asking for SB,s and I went from the back straight to the front. Got aisle seat row 1 on a full flight so on this occasion well worth the money.

If you get to fly the A380 with SIA out of Heathrow (in economy ) select a seat upstairs and you board through the business / first class boarding lounge Gate 3 which is just before the economy lounge Gate 3A I think. A very pleasant and relaxing experience before a long haul flight. On return SIA use one large lounge but the refurbished Changi airport is excellent with plenty of space, facilities (free internet ) and seats while you wait.