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British Airways will trial a new ‘Group 0’ boarding process from Tuesday

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The question of ‘what is the best way to board an aircraft?’ has never been solved.

The only trial I saw which seemed to work was boarding all window passengers first, then all middle seat passengers and then all aisle passengers. Clearly this falls apart when people are travelling with others and are unwilling to separate for boarding.

British Airways is making another tweak to the current system on Tuesday as a trial, but it won’t impact most people.

British Airways will trial a new 'Group 0' boarding process

Under the new structure there will be a ‘Group 0’. This will consist of:

  • Gold Guest List members, of which there are only 5,000 or so, and

The new structure will allow GGL members and Premier cardholders to board before other passengers.

The trial will cover the following routes:

  • London Heathrow to New York JFK
  • London Gatwick to New York JFK
  • London Heathrow to Boston

…. and reverse.

I suspect that most HfP readers would be happier with better enforcement of the current system.

When I returned from Dusseldorf last month, for example, passengers were split into two lines – Group 1-3 and Group 4+ – and then both lines started boarding at the same time using two desks. Genius ….


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Comments (275)

  • Chris in Makati says:

    Unless I’m flying a class of travel which gets me a glass of champagne after boarding, I have little interest in being one of the first to board. I don’t see any point in rushing to get into a seat which I’m going to be stuck in anyway for the next few hours.

    I’m far more interested in being one of the first off the plane.

  • vlcnc says:

    I think the best way which to board which is a slight compromise is from back of the plane to front like Icelandair do it – this feels the most efficient while allowing people together to board at the same time. You are right though whatever the rules, enforcement probably would help but BA isn’t alone in this tbqh.

  • Ray says:

    Why dont all airlines fill the plane from the rear first. Delays are caused by people filling the overhead lockers and holding people up who want get past. Seems too simple

    • Rob says:

      Because the lockers would all be full before 75% of people had boarded, and those boarding last would be those paying the most (ie sitting at the front).

      However, the real reason this doesn’t work is that the ONLY way to speed up boarding is to have multiple people sitting down at the same time. This doesn’t happen if you board by row or group of rows.

      The Steffen method, which I mentioned in the article, is actually more detailed than my summary. What you do is board every other row by window / middle / aisle, so:

      Window – even row
      Window – odd row
      Middle – even row
      Middle – odd row

      This allows people to slot straight into their seat and, by using alternating rows, means that you’re not slowed down by someone standing directly next to you.

    • will says:

      A queue might be stopped by someone putting a bag into the overhead locker (or generally just faffing about before sitting down, which is fine, it’s pretty normal to one extent or another) but it isn’t the actual cause, the cause is not having everyone whos stood in the isle either making progress towards their seat or actively stowing a bag or manoeuvring out of the isle to their seat.
      The only way to achieve that is to come up with a boarding plan that allows a near full isle of people to enter the aircraft at one time (roughly 1/6 of a narrow body at once) and to enter in a manner that someone at the front isn’t boarded in front of someone at the back. Then to repeat that process 6 times until the plane is full.

      You wouldn’t need to separate groups sat together, you’d just need to make sure that no more than a set number of people from their section of the plane was sent down at any one time.

      The sticking point will always be getting people to comply, maybe give them a tier point for boarding correctly.

  • Jasbir says:

    One of the reasons the overhead lockers get filled up is that that BA do not enforce the hand luggage size strictly. It is really annoying to see some passengers bringing in enormous trolly bags or rucksacks when you have stuck strictly to the specified size for hand luggage.

  • Pockets says:

    I don’t mind a Group 0 as long as there are actual groups to be called and for them to stand in line. The K/P skit below basically happened to me one time I flew Delta. I stood and wondered what the “Zones” were actually for if I have Zone 3 and everyone else gets to board! I would rather have been Zone 11 and sat down for a spell while the other zones got called.

  • Derek Scott says:

    It’s as though BA were listening.. front and back door boarding on the 1443 EDI_LHR this morning. Arriving flight landed 20 mins late and so far doors not yet closed for 1130 departure (it’s 11:50), but much better, quicker boarding and no long slowqueue at front door.. 1-19 front, 20 up at back. Nice one…. Please keep it this way!!

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