British Airways to start boarding passengers by group from 12th December

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Following numerous trials, British Airways has finally decided to push ahead with boarding in groups.  The new process will go live on 12th December.

Your boarding pass will now carry a group number.  These are:


Group 1 – BA Gold or oneworld equivalent, First Class passengers

Group 2 – BA Silver or oneworld equivalent, Club World passengers

Group 3 – BA Bronze or oneworld equivalent, World Traveller Plus passengers

Group 4 and Group 5 – World Traveller passengers, split by row

British Airways boarding pass


Group 1 – BA Gold or oneworld equivalent, Club Europe

Group 2 – BA Silver or oneworld equivalent

Group 3 – BA Bronze or oneworld equivalent

Group 4 – Euro Traveller

Group 5 – Euro Traveller on a hand baggage only fare

It is not clear what will happen with mixed groups – historically there has been an informal policy that children or partners could board with higher status passengers in the same group.

The key to this new policy working will be the announcements.  All passengers will be expected to be seated by the departure gate.  They will be strongly encouraged not to congregate by the boarding area.

Only when their boarding group is announced should they stand up and make their way to the gate.  The idea is to replace what can be a scrum with a more laid back process.  It will also be easier to police hand baggage, since it will be clear to boarding staff at each stage in the process how much each group should be allowed to bring on.

Will it work?  We will see …..

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  1. Boarding by BA is totally subjective based on the staffing. So this ‘new’ zoning will only be as effective as the gate staff choose to make it. Sometimes having Sapphire is worth nothing because they call Emerald, and then ‘everyone else’ etc. As BA Gold i’ll be interested to see how this is implemented on flights after the 12th.

  2. If group boarding really encouraged people to stay seated until their group was called then the term ‘gate lice’ wouldn’t exist in the US

  3. This is another case of fiddling while Rome burns, who cares about when you board? Given BA’s atrocious levels of service in both club and economy I would have thought getting on board and prolonging the agony for an extra 10-20 minutes a touch masochistic. BA need to wake up and realise they are not competing with EasyJet and Ryanair, for the best critique/ suggestions of what’s so wrong with BA. and more importantly how to fix the problems I suggest you guys have a look at Rowan Jacksons excellent article published on his linkedin page and also on BA

    However I digress, surely the elderly, the disabled and families with children should be given priority irrespective of airline status, or price paid for a ticket. It’s called common courtesy.
    I had to laugh out loud at the comment by Jules ” I’ve earnt the right” …..Ooooooh it so smacks of me me me entitlement!

  4. Flew out of Cape Town in First for the first time last year and were horrified at the scrum for security, which was not very reassuring it its thoroughness when we eventually reached the front.
    We wondered why people in the whatever it was lounge left early. We found out why when we reached the First queue board at the gate and were told to join the back of the long line of First, Club and any other passengers that we had assumed were travelling WT, by the stony-faced gate staff. No priority boarding at all and a long wait standing in line. Apparently, this is quite normal and were told by the cabin crew that “This is Africa.” I can’t imagine group boarding of any kind being used there.

  5. Correction: my husband says it was priority boarding but not applied, so no WT were in that queue. Apologies.

  6. Part of the problem is expectation. I paid for two Club Europe seats so we had the extra hand luggage. Why? because when at Heathrow we had to collect from Boots (airside), specialist food and medicine to take with us for our child. So I arrive at the gate having enjoyed my time in the lounge and as I step through priority boarding line, I have a gate agent telling me that two of my hand luggage bags must go in the hold because the plane is full.

    I’m not unreasonable but practically all of our hand luggage was for the benefit of my child. If the medicine and food was suitable for hold baggage, I would have bought it on my local high street and checked it in but its not. I received not sympathy.

    In the end the purser came to the gate to find out why they were waiting for us. The purser immediately agreed that my view, said that it was his responsibility to find room on the plane for Club Europe passengers and that the gate agent was acting outside of their remit (the crew had not asked for any extra luggage to be checked).

    At the purser’s request, I feed all of this back to BA and got completely fobbed off.

    • the real harry1 says:

      cool story, bro

      except you don’t get an extra hand baggage allowance when travelling in CE

      I agree, the gate agent could have been more helpful if he/ she had listened

  7. This system already works well on the A380 flights, but the gate staff are well drilled as it’s a huge undertaking to load everyone.
    It isn’t enforced at 5A short haul gates, where they announce boarding for CE/Emerald passengers but the entire priority boarders move forward and are allowed through.
    Having a group code should finally eliminate queue jumpers.

  8. Moomin79 says:

    I was on LHR-MAN yesterday and the boarding was strictly enforced. Only CE and Golds allowed to board first, followed by Silver and then Bronze. Anyone attempting to board without the right credentials was firmly told to wait. This meant that the priority queue was backed up with passengers who were told to wait.

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