Increasingly we’re seeing airlines introduce zoned boarding concepts. Rather than calling out passengers by the cabin or row they’re traveling in, airlines are instead assigning passengers zones, and then calling those zones for boarding. Arguably this is an easier system as it can be consistent across aircraft types, and is also easier for passengers to comprehend.
It looks like British Airways will be the latest airline to switch to a zoned boarding concept. According to this FlyerTalk thread, an internal communication at British Airways has outlined the new boarding process, which will be implemented as of December 12, 2017.
Here’s what British Airways says about the new boarding process:
British Airways will be changing the way it boards aircraft with the introduction of group boarding in December. This method has been used all around the world by many airlines and aligns BA with partners American Airlines and Iberia. Group boarding simplifies the process, making it easier for customers to understand the boarding sequence at the gate.
At the check-in stage, the customer will be put into a group number dependent on their cabin of travel and frequent-flyer status. This number will then be displayed prominently on the boarding pass, printed or mobile. Customers who are entitled will continue to be offered priority boarding for both long-haul and short-haul domestic.
British Airways’ new boarding system will be different based on whether you’re on a shorthaul or longhaul flight.
On shorthaul flights, the boarding order will be as follows:
- Group 1 — Executive Club Gold, oneworld Emerald, and business class
- Group 2 — Executive Club Silver and oneworld Sapphire
- Group 3 — Executive Club Bronze and oneworld Ruby
- Group 4 — economy
- Group 5 — hand baggage only fares
On longhaul flights, the boarding order will be as follows:
- Group 1 — Executive Club Gold, oneworld Emerald, and first class
- Group 2 — Executive Club Silver, oneworld Sapphire, and business class
- Group 3 — Executive Club Bronze, oneworld Ruby, and premium economy
- Groups 4 & 5 — economy
Ultimately the success of such a system largely comes down to the clarity of announcements and the enforcement of the boarding area. The way I see it this would definitely simplify things, so I’d welcome it.
One thing that would make British Airways’ zoned boarding unique is that they only have one to two zones for economy, so they’re not doing a whole lot to optimize the process there in terms of boarding back to front, etc.
What do you make of British Airways switching to a zoned boarding process?