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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. 

British Airways boarding pass

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


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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Comments (130)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Mike says:

    Will only work if it’s enforced… how many times have they changed boarding policy in the last 5 years? Every time the issue isn’t the policy, it’s that their bloody staff cannot be bothered to enforce it.

    • Peter says:

      More like it people without status ‘chancing Thier arm’ and queue jumping.
      I have no problems with bronze at the front,if they are happy to stand at the front of the queue for 30min. Not bronze either by the way.

      • Doug M says:

        They chance their arm as you put it because it’s often successful because the policy is not enforced properly, chicken and egg. It (mostly) works for American because of enforcement, and because they use a two lane system of 1-4 and 5-9 so they there’s little congregating in the 1-4 lane.

        • Peter says:

          It is poorly enforced, I accept that.
          More than once I have heard various different groups annoced and then watched as it is poorly announced. Even better is that is such a scrum that CE cannot get to the front when called and then then next groups are called within 10secs.

  • Frenske says:

    Great! First to board are passengers in the front of the plane who will block everyone else in the back of the plane. Never really understood this besides it is some kind if entitlement. A bit like a car free right lane for BMW drivers.

    • Sam wardill says:

      For short haul it is often critical to board first to ensure you get you hand luggage on the plane (especially if you are at the front). I regard myself as pretty egalitarian but I still would think it reasonable for a status passenger to expect to be boarded first.

    • Genghis says:

      Did anyone see that really good Mythbusters episode on aircraft boarding?

  • shd says:

    Re: “All passengers will be expected to be seated by the departure gate.”

    Are there *any* gates at T5 with enough seats for an entire aircraft’s passengers?

  • Sam wardill says:

    Us airlines have done this for ages but they create queues for each boarding group. Can’t see it working if they don’t

  • Mark says:

    Just boarded in Heathrow heading to Amsterdam and they announced boarding by zone and had gate signage for priority and zones 2-4. We were asked to join the line for our assigned zone but didn’t look like anyone had it on their passes..I certainly didn’t.

  • Vistaro says:

    Does need something doing, the priority line is often longer than the normal line, or maybe just abandon any recognition of status, it’s already like that on the plane!

  • mark2 says:

    As a once a year F traveller (with Avios and 241) my view is that boarding first is fine at Heathrow and other big airports. But in June we flew back from Vancouver BC on A380. We boarded first but, because there was only one airbridge on each deck, all the other passengers flooded through First. Where there is only one flight per day it would be easy to leave First passengers in the lounge until the last minute.

  • Ian says:

    Is this worldwide or just flights out of the UK?

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