a large airplane on a runway

Airlines around the world are trying to figure out how to bring trust and comfort into the skies. With a global pandemic afoot, many worry about who’s standing next to them, how close they are, and whether they could negatively impact their life, let alone travels. All Nippon Airways – aka ANA – has an intriguing new aircraft boarding process, which confirms quite a few things people have probably always assumed…

a row of seats in an airplaneANA’s New Boarding Process For Covid-19

ANA has a new boarding process for the foreseeable future while covid-19 is an issue, which confirms what many passengers always somewhat assumed – that it’s generally faster and more efficient to just board from the back, or have people with window seats sit first, so they don’t then clog up the aisles with people having to skip over others to reach their seat.

ANA’s new boarding group list for covid-19 is all about practicality…

  • Group 1】Passengers with rear window seats
  • Group 2】Passengers with rear middle seats
  • Group 3】Passengers with rear aisle seats
  • Group 4】Passengers with front window seats
  • Group 5】Passengers with front middle seats
  • Group 6】Passengers with front aisle seats

The airline is notifying passengers in Groups 1-3 that they must arrive at the gate early to help facilitate this early boarding process, and plans to remind customers at multiple points of contact.

What about priority boarding? ANA offers the following, stating “Although priority boarding will be temporarily suspended accordingly, a dedicated boarding lane(*) for Star Alliance Gold members will be served by your boarding group, subject to airport and aircraft. In other words, you may be able to skip the big line, but only when it’s your section of the plane’s turn to board.

From the looks of it, pretty much all business and first class passengers will board last, priority lane or no priority lane. As someone who’s always argued that luxury would actually be letting those up front board at the very last moment, not making them sit in a metal tube longer than everyone else, I’ve certainly got no issues with this.

a group of people standing in a terminalWhat Are Other Airlines Doing?

Each airline is taking a different approach to boarding during the global pandemic, which is probably why people struggle so much to understand any of them. For the interim, Delta is operating a similar back to front policy, but keeping a Sky Priority Lane open for those up front, or with elite status. It’s also pre-boarding anyone who needs extra time, regardless of where they’re seated. Other airlines aren’t modifying things at all.

US airlines announced yesterday that non compliance with face coverings and other rules could land travelers on no fly lists with the airline in question.

It’s interesting to see ANA go further than most airlines were willing to go, by effectively telling elite frequent flyer members that their boarding dance is on hold for now, because health and safety are greater priorities. Boarding from back to front, or window to aisle has always made more sense in terms of time, but airlines have always faced pressure to cave to frequent flyers who demand special access.

What do you make of ANA’s temporary boarding changes?


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Very sensible approach. I’m 100% in favor of the “First” boards last. Much of the rush, historically, is the land-grab for overhead space. If ANA and other carriers can mitigate this, it would improve the premium flyer’s quality of life

  2. What about widebodies with two jetways such as 777s?
    They should board F first them J between the jetways.

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