British Airways' New Boarding Policy Could Actually Make Things Worse For Travellers

Photo: Courtesy of Stuart Bailey/British Airways.
Just in time for the holidays, British Airways announced that it would be implementing a new boarding policy designed to streamline the process of getting settled in before hitting the friendly skies. However, critics were quick to clap back at the "pay more, board first" policy, which allowed first-class passengers to get on the plane first and have the remaining flyers board in groups according to how much they paid for their tickets. The new guidelines go into effect on December 15.
The Independent explained that this particular process isn't uncommon in the United States. American Airlines uses a similar procedure and so does Qatar and Iberia (though it's worth mentioning that they're all British Airways partners). Virgin America follows a similar boarding order and JetBlue introduced the same policy this year, allowing passengers who purchase more expensive seats to board first.
However, it isn't the M.O. in Europe, which may be why many travellers are up in arms. The way they see it, the people relegated to the back of the plane – usually budget flyers with no checked bags – will end up facing full overhead bins and crowded aisles when it's finally their turn to board. And since things never actually follow the rules of common sense, travellers don't see why airlines don't just board planes from back to front.
"In a society which we're trying to make more equal, British Airways is doing the opposite. It's very Kardashian, being ostentatious about wealth and status," a flyer told The Independent. "Everyone will know how much money you've got based on where you are in the line."
Condé Nast Traveler adds that other customers went so far as saying that they would be boycotting the airline entirely, since it didn't make sense logistically.
British Airways told the BBC that the new rules would speed up boarding, since the guidelines would be easier to understand for customers. The Independent adds that passengers with special needs, groups with young children, and frequent flyers would also get priority seating. Critics of the new system claimed that the boarding was nonsense no matter how airlines set it up. After experiencing group boarding on Iberia, one passenger compared the situation at the gate to Mad Max: Fury Road: Rules are great, but if passengers don't follow them and crowd around the gate no matter what the boarding announcements say, any system will look like chaos and earn the ire of flyers.
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