BA boarding by group number?

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This topic contains 51 replies, has 36 voices, and was last updated by  fatbear 30 Dec 2017
at 16:04

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 52 total)

  • JJames3

    Ready to be shot down on this but here goes..
    Seems to me that this is really more about economy seating regardless of aircraft or flight routing (long or short haul).

    For short haul Business (maybe) and Economy with short turnaround – single aisle aircraft, based on simple flow patterns, why do they not call passengers – windows seats first, then middle, then aisle, as that is surly the fastest way to board, whether you’ve pre-paid for a particular seat or not.
    There will always be exceptions (those needing assistance etc. and they are usually the minority.)

    Admittedly it takes no account of FF ranking, (which as a humble occasional traveller I am the lowest of the low) but isn’t that more about ‘points’ than ‘service level’ anyway?

    If you want the top service, book premium seats either with cash or points. That’s what I’ve done for the last 20+ years


    JJames3- see my comment above. It would involve splitting up people travelling together- particularly families, who I strongly suspect just wouldn’t do it. I agree it’s the most efficient way of boarding, but enforcement of it would be chaotic and probably impossible.


    “We’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied” [post: IanfromHKG #838567
    I have just disgraced myself in a silent area of an academic library by laughing out loud at this! Nice one Mr Ian.

    Classic quote. For more like it check out the Demotivators at

    I’m convinced certain tiers of IAG management bought a job lot and actually don’t recognise them as being ‘ironic’…


    Without doubt the very fastest and smoothest boarding I ever experienced was when we were all told to assemble in the boarding area where there was a grid painted on the floor. We were then told to stand on the square with our seat number on it. We then boarded by rows, with a large and fierce man shouting at anyone who dared to move early.

    The fact that the man had three stripes on his arm and we were more accustomed to hearing his voice across a parade ground rather gives the game away. If BA tried to treat its passengers the way the Army Transport Service does they may find the reaction not entirely favourable.

    But by goodness it worked a dream!


    United’s been doing this for years. They have numbered signs and people line up dutifully behind their number, seems to work well. I’m able to board in group 1 so I don’t know what happens when they get as far as group 3!


    I assume other posters are suggesting staying with the status quo – the strongest will survive – that is what’s going to happen anyway if it is not “policed” properly


    I assume other posters are suggesting staying with the status quo – the strongest will survive – that is what’s going to happen anyway if it is not “policed” properly

    Peter – You are right, and have hit on the nub of the matter. BA do not police their own policies at the gate. They do not check the size of hand baggage rigorously enough, or even the amount. They do not stop the queue barging and they ignore the scrum. And there is little the poor gate staff can do about it. If they were sergeant-majors (see my yesterday post!) they could possibly impose their will, but they are not, and cannot.

    The problem is two-fold. Firstly BA’s cabin policy and seating policy is a mess; like so much of BA it is half way between a full service airline (where people have status etc and expect a level of service, decorum and so on) and an LCC (where the passengers are blatantly treated more aggressively and the only thing that counts is money). For example the current list of priority boarders is too large (sometimes, especially on the “commuter runs” back from the Continent in the early evening, it is more than half the flight!), and the rules on hand baggage (and the draconian charges for daring to put stuff in the hold) positively encourage people to push their luck and bend the rules.

    Secondly the management simply do not back their gate staff up. The gate staff acquiesce in this chaos because they have no choice: if they tried to impose the rules the result would be a row with the customer, probably including personal abuse (and no-one courts that) and in the end, “for the sake of harmony” (not to mention getting the plane away without too much delay) the passenger would be allowed to have their way.

    America is different. Money has always counted for more, the LCCs have always been LCCs and have a well-justified reputation for imposing their rules, and officials are actually much better at playing the sergeant-major and telling passengers what they can and cannot do, “sir”. As anyone who has tried to argue with eg the Immigration or Homeland Security TSA staff will know, they simply do not do bending the rules and when they say jump, you jump.

    I think boarding by numbers has a chance of working. It is simple enough that even the dumbest passenger – and more importantly even the most aggressive “do you know who I am” passenger – will not be able to argue when the gate staff says “Sir, you are in Group 5. We are boarding Group 2. Please return to your seat”. IF BA allow their staff to stand on the rules, and IF the management back them up when they try (how about a couple of heavies by the gate to help them while the news that BA really means it sinks in?), then this might reduce the unseemly scrum. It is not the best boarding method – see many of the posts above – and it has downsides (actually I don’t care about the delicate folk who don’t want people to know that they paid bottom dollar for their seat – if anything they should be proud if it!). But the current method, as you observe, is simply not working and too stressful for all, gate staff and passengers alike.


    Here are my ideas for boarding BA planes, said in jest because it’s late Friday night and the weekend is here:

    1. Let passengers board by size of hand luggage. Smallest hand luggage first to board, largest last
    2. Have a lottery at the gate. Everyone draws a number. No. 1 boards first, no 2 boards second, and so on

    I actually like number 1 method the best. Also, these ideas could have been what to say to Willie Walsh if you meet him in a lift (see the other thread)


    I think I may have mentioned this before, but I think the best way to board aircraft would be from the back, with disembarkation from the front. That way the pointy-end passengers can board first, unimpeded, and receive (on the better class of airline) their pre-boarding drinks, or even amuses-bouche, by staff who aren’t impeded by hordes of hoi-polloi traipsing through the cabin on the way to the cheap seats. Passengers will not want to dump their hand luggage in the first empty overhead locker they find because then they will either have to fight their way back through the disembarkation scrum or wait until everyone has left the aircraft in order to retrieve their bags.

    Am I missing something? Yes, I know it would mean changes to the jet bridges, but I can’t help thinking it would be worthwhile!


    Lufthansa used to have an effective system. They boarded window seats first, starting from the back working towards the front, then middle, then aisle. The problem was that unless there was some flexibility it temporarily split people travelling togther, but no system is perfect.

    The worst thing now about boarding by groups, for example easyJet speedy boarding, is that the people who are waiting to board crowd round the entrance and impede the progress of those who are in the earlier boarding groups. What seems to be needed is either sheepdogs or cattle prods to control the boarding process, said implements only to be used on the Hoi Polloi of course.

    It never ceases to amaze me how, after so many years of flying, the embarcation and disembarcation processes are so slow, cumbersome, stress inducing, and conflictive.


    Yes you and Ian are correct, loading from the back first is not only quickest it also reduces airbourne infections because less people pass through other groups en route to their seat,the easiest way to transmit illnesses.
    Couples/families must be allowed to board together too. Then the business/first pax are annoyed because they invariably board last so boarding must be from the back forward,with exceptions (forward to back) in cabins where pax turn left at the door.
    Its not rocket science yet few airlines get it right!


    says it all



    Thanks steve, that exactly sums it up. I’d never seen that before but it’s excellent!


    Boarding from Dubai the other morning, B772, all was going or seemed to be going well. Clear announcements on boarding procedures, dragons at the boarding doors preparing to manage premium versus other passengers and Group boarding and then the usual mayhem of pre-boarding ‘families with infants’ and others who need a little more time. This apparently seemed to be half the aircraft, passengers needing more time and the elderly sprang to life from wheelchairs and positively ran down the Airbridge accompanied by helpers and huge amounts of hand baggage, families who had mustered belligerent teenagers joined the scrum so when CW boarded the there was not a baggage bin to be had in close proximity to the seat (Row 10 Aisle). Said family of two parentals, 2 dorky teenagers and a screaming brat had taken up 5 bins, when crew were engaged about this the reply was that more tolerance is needed of other pax needs as they are a family and you are travelling alone (only one small cabin bag with me). During the flight screaming brat had the nappy changed 3 times at the seat as mother was claustrophobic and a nervous traveler and did not like using the confined toilets, the fourth nappy change was done during the final snack service in the toilet with the door open. Apart from hygiene issues this really was not on and again another engagement with the CSD was made only to be told you might be a Gold member but they are a family and they have needs….. Strange that mother was only nervous when crew were in the vicinity.
    Needless to say no ‘Gold’ welcome, had to ask for boarding drink only to be told Champagne is not allowed in Dubai???? the other aisle must not have been in Dubai as they had champers and ran out of my meal choice so they said and was seated in 10C.
    I don’t champion or knock BA, to me they are a bus service and cheaper that the others as I self finance my travel but this was the worst I have experienced, when will they sort out consistency in boarding, defining what are infants and children, and controlling hand baggage amounts.
    Rant Over.


    @inthesandpit….. Totally agree with your post.

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