“Cabin crew, boarding complete”.
I’m lucky to regularly find myself in the front of the plane and that occasionally means more than just a big wide seat or bed and some nice drinks. Sometimes it means the amusement of seeing heads of state, or A-listers from the entertainment world getting from place to place.
When I do witness these megastars on board, there’s a trend which almost always repeats itself, which actually ties into a conversation which View From The Wing and I regularly engage in. It’s the question of “true” luxury. Is it boarding first, or is it actually boarding last?
If A-listers were to have their say, there would be a pretty clear consensus.
The Celeb Boarding Process
After what usually feels like 10-15 minutes of pure idling, where everyone appears to already be on board, the flight deck seems ready to go and crew have completed final checks, that’s usually when it happens.
A true “A-lister” magically appears, and the aircraft door practically closes behind them, on command, and the words “cabin crew, boarding complete” come over the loudspeaker.
Sometimes, you’ll even notice a luxury sedan below the plane, signifying that the A-lister did not arrive on board the same way we did. Anyone can actually pay for this perk at certain airports, but it doesn’t come cheap. For A-listers the detail is different.
This is timing down to precision, and quite often in tandem with special, sometimes secretive teams which work for airlines in the background. And yes, most airlines have these mysterious “special services” teams.
These teams coordinate with gate staff for up to the minute boarding updates and brief the cabin crew about the situation, in case there are any extra security protocols or sometimes, diva requests.
Teams like these are designed to keep the most commercially sensitive and important flyers as comfortable as possible, as long as possible, up until the last moment before a flight ready to depart. I’ve often heard some megastars or global leaders insist upon never having to walk past anyone to board or deplane the aircraft. It is what it is.
To me, this is actually the ultimate luxury.
Particularly on international flights, where people are herded on board like cattle, up to an hour before the actual departure, extra time spent in any seat is sub optimal. Up front it’s not as bad, but there’s something about being able to stretch out and walk around that’s just so much better.
If I’m flying Los Angeles to London and I know I’ve got nearly 10 hours to kill in a seat, that extra hour on the ground, not even including taxi time can be draining. Enjoying a ground experience where a team ensures you don’t miss your flight, but don’t have to board it until the last possible second, is second to none.
More time in the lounge, or just more time away from the many gawking onlookers who would love to have a word before seatbelt signs go on, and the plane pushes back from the gate.
By waiting to board until the plane is ready to push back, any small talk situations are largely avoided.
It’s just not all that easy to try and make small talk when you’re supposed to be bolted into your seat already.
For people who’ve reached a level where an airline cares enough to look after them in this way, they’ve generally experienced at least 5-10 lifetimes worth of small talk with adoring fans already, and any chance to avoid more — is priceless.
Which leaves me with a parting gift for the world: you’ve probably been on flights with A-listers before, but through the magic of these special teams, boarding last and being first off, you just might not have known it.