Does Boarding Sequence Impact Choice of Flight?

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(November, 2019)

What boarding process is best? That’s the age-old question that lingers in the airline industry and among frequent flyers. With there being no one standard process that all airlines adhere to, it leaves room for travelers to question the process and even prefer certain carriers over the other. It also leaves room for airlines to experiment with what process is best for them.


Contrary to public opinion, all airline boarding processes are not created equal! While some travelers may be accustomed to boarding first on a particular carrier, they may find themselves boarding in a latter boarding group due to less ‘status’ on a different carrier. Each airline views their boarding based upon efficiency to maintain on-time departure status, as well as provide perceived benefits to their frequent travelers, or those traveling in the higher classes of service.

For example, Delta Airlines increased its amount of boarding groups earlier this year and found that people like the uniqueness of boarding in smaller groups. No one likes to stand in line, and as a result their passengers now experience boarding in groups consisting of 10 to 15 people at a time as opposed to over 30 passengers.

What’s New

London Gatwick recently introduced a trial which it believes will reduce boarding times by up to 10%.

The airport has begun a two-month trial period with easyJet that will utilize digital screens to tell passengers when they should board. This includes boarding passengers from the back row to the front, with window seat passengers boarding first, followed by middle and then aisle seats. “By communicating to passengers better, and boarding passengers by seat number, we also expect to make the whole boarding experience more relaxing and, potentially, prevent large numbers of passengers rushing forward at any stage,” says Abhi Chacko, Head of Enabling Technologies and Digital Innovation at Gatwick Airport.

What This Means for Business Travelers

What is really better for the business traveler who needs to get on and off a plane swiftly? It all comes down to the experience of passengers who care about overhead space and being able to get settled before the flight takes off. If London Gatwick’s new boarding process doesn’t interfere with overhead bin space (which is the most obvious concern of the traveler), then Gatwick’s trial boarding process may become permanent.

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