Airlines must improve gate boarding procedure

GATE boarding can be quite a mess at some airports if you travel economy. There is a tendency for passengers to want to be among the early birds to get into the aircraft. It is understandable when seating is not pre-assigned and passengers get to choose their seats on a first-come-first-served basis. Somehow there is this unfounded anxiety that comes with air travel, and of course many passengers it seems want to ensure that they get first choice of overhead compartment space for their hand luggage.

Most airlines (except for non-seating assigned flights) – if not all – adopt a procedure of boarding by rows, allowing boarding from the back so as to prevent bottlenecks in the front. This would also make it easier for the crew on board in preparing the aircraft for takeoff. Yet not all of the airlines enforce the procedure, which leads to many passengers scampering to board first. This occurs in varying degrees at different airports, but really it is an issue with the airlines concerned. However, even with the same airline, it depends on where the boarding takes place.

Operators at airports in the west are generally more adhering to the boarding by row procedure than those in the east. Attribute that perhaps to oriental politeness or timidity. The gate staffs at North American airports have no qualms about stopping a passenger and asking him or her to step aside if he or she does not comply. In Asia, such a passenger is likely to be waved through, even with a smile.

Boarding gates at HKIA, Courtesy

Boarding gates at HKIA, Courtesy

In a recent experience I had travelling out of Vancouver, Canada, I thought Cathay Pacific did a smart thing by marking out lines with row numbers displayed for those passengers who wish to queue early. But in Hong Kong, it is usually one long line of first-come-first-served. Well, it looks like if you travel economy, you have no rights to expect better.


About Dingzi
Writer by passion, with professional expertise in aviation, customer service and creative writing. Aviation veteran, author, editor and management consultant. Besides commentary on business issues and life-interest topics, travel stories and book reviews, genres include fiction, poetry and plays. Nature lover who abhors cruelty of any form to animals, and a tireless traveler. Above all, a dreamer.

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