British Airways is trialling a new ‘personalised boarding system’ at Terminal 5 on selected routes.
If you are travelling to Bridgetown, Dallas Fort Worth or Mumbai before 28th November you will be invited to take part.
How does personalised boarding work?
The idea is that you will be given an exact time, to the minute, when you can board the aircraft. There is no need to turn up at the boarding gate before your allocated time.
The main beneficiaries here will, of course, be passengers with lounge access who can remain in the lounge until 2-3 minutes before their allocated slot (unless it’s a B or C gate ….).
You will receive a text message from British Airways when online check-in opens for your flight, encouraging you to register for the trial. You will also be able to register at the check-in desk by scanning a QR code.
Here’s a typical screenshot you will see on your device:
As you can see, boarding for this flight is due to start at 15:47. However, the passenger is told to arrive at exactly 15:49 when they will have a boarding slot.
At the appointed time, the green tick appears in your device. Any delays to boarding times are notified by SMS message.
Will this trial work?
Let’s just say that you can see the flaws.
It won’t work well for anyone on a B or C gate unless they are aware of how long it takes to reach the satellite terminal.
Anyone with lounge access already has, in theory, ‘board when you want’. You would be in Group 1 in most cases and, if you turn up when Group 1 had already been called, you can walk straight to the front via the (by then) empty priority boarding line.
More importantly, for passengers without lounge access, the only quiet place to sit in Terminal 5 is down by their gate. As more and more shops have been created, the seating areas in Terminal 5 have shunk – or been turned into dedicated seating for those buying something from Pret etc. If this plan is to keep people from congregating in the gate areas, the solution lies elsewhere.
That said, there is clearly some benefit here if it works well. The bottom line is that you need to be happy that BA will keep you informed about boarding delays and that it will send out notifications at the right time. Once the confidence is there, people will start to use and trust the system more.
If the trial goes well, British Airways will extend it to more routes later in 2021.