“We’re now calling chaos. all chaos may now ensue.”

There’s one thing that’s universally true on virtually every airline: boarding a plane sucks. For some reason, despite millions of dollars spent on consultants, pie charts, stop watches and every other novel idea to make things less terrible, we still gripe, it’s still painful. British Airways is making changes to their boarding process, and things may soon make a lot more sense.

Law & Order

Presently there is a rather free flowing boarding process on British Airways flights. And sadly, there’s no technology other than firehoses to remove people who will board last from standing aimlessly at the front of the gate, making things harder for all. British Airways new system will, in theory, be a much more definitive approach to who can board, and when. No longer can anyone with priority access board at the same time. Starting December 12th, there’s law and order on the way. Maybe.

Five Groups

The new boarding process will theoretically be concise, and prioritize boarding in a way which we generally back. Zone 1 would be comprised of First, Gold and OneWorld Emerald passengers on long haul flights. Followed by Zone 2, which would be Club World, Executive Club Silver and OneWorld Sapphire members. Zone 3, World Traveller Plus, Bronze members and OneWorld Ruby, and Zones 4 and 5 would be World Traveler customers. For short haul, Gold and Club Europe will board first, followed by a virtually identical tier structure, with hand baggage only fares boarding in Zone 5.

Thoughts

It doesn’t take millions of dollars in customer surveys to know that no boarding process will ever make anyone happy, but we see this as potential for real improvement. Prioritizing boarding so that only highest tier customers – and those in the highest cabin protects the value proposition for both loyalty customers and paying guests. The key here is enforcement. The best laid plans are only as good as their execution, but for now – we’re cautiously optimistic that this will be a drastically improved process. This gives customers more aspirational reasons to climb through the ranks of the Executive Club program.