You may have noticed that British Airways has been carrying out a number of trials at Heathrow over the last few months to smooth the boarding process.
Fundamentally, there have been three issues (as I see it):
The introduction of the Bronze tier means that there are too many passengers who qualify for priority boarding. On peak business flights the priority queue is bigger than the standard queue.
The introduction of ‘hand baggage only’ tickets has encouraged people to save money by not checking in a case and bringing a disproportionate amount of luggage into the cabin
The introduction of another two and a half rows of seats has added a huge number of extra bags on full flights
This is what is changing:
Boarding will be done by cabin and by Executive Club status. Non-status passengers will then board by seat row number.
This is likely to be more contentious.
The size of your second piece of hand baggage is being cut.
Your second item must now be no larger than 40cm x 30cm x 15cm unless you are travelling in First or Club World on long haul. There is no exception for Club Europe on short haul. The previous limit for the 2nd item was 45cm x 36 cm x 20 cm.
The first item limit is unchanged at 56cm x 45cm x 25cm with a 23kg weight limit.
The second item MUST be placed under the seat in front of you. It will receive a yellow tag at the boarding gate and must not be placed in an overhead locker unless you are sat on an exit row or in Row 1.
If you second item of hand baggage is larger than 40 x 30 x 15 then it will NOT be accepted onto the aircraft and must be placed in the hold. Tough luck about that expensive new handbag you bought.
If your second item meets the size guidelines above then you are guaranteed to be able to take it on the aircraft. If the overhead lockers are full, passengers will be selected to have their main piece of hand baggage removed and placed in the hold.
Implementation of these changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks.