Go Ahead – Pre-Board

I always like it when my plane appears at the gate

If I wasn’t running a family-friendly kind of blog, I could do this as a one-liner Wednesday, but the one line I overheard isn’t anything I want to post here.

Last Tuesday, I was in line to board a flight from Atlanta to Hartford. I had purchased an Economy Comfort seat, which is least expensive seat that I fit in without my knees hurting. That allows me to board in the Sky Priority group. Like I talked about in an earlier post, that’s the group that boards after the First Class. But First Class isn’t first. Before the people spending big bucks, and before the people who fly so often that they get upgrades, all manner of people pre-board. I’ll circle back to this.

The guy who was two guys in front of me was standing in line doing an obvious slow-burn. Anxiety, frustration, anger, I’m not sure, but he wasn’t happy. When he got to the doohickey where you scan your phone, or the nice lady scans your boarding pass, he went off on her. He was demanding to know why so and so and some woman were allowed to pre-board. “What was wrong with them?” (A cleaned-up version of his demand). The woman responded that she didn’t know, she’s not allowed to ask – if they need more time to board, they can pre-board. He then assured her that “those people” didn’t need to pre-board.

The man continued to hold up the boarding process, wasting way more time than the people who pre-boarded. The woman politely suggested that he go to Delta.com and share his opinion. He continued to talk, while firmly holding his phone on the scanner. She instructed him to move along or she would call security.

And you thought the airlines make flying frustrating?

Boarding zones have become the Lingua Franca of status for those who derive status from the color carpet they walk over on their way to the plane. There are some good reasons to be in a zone that boards early. The biggest is that you’re more likely to find space in the overhead bin for your carry-on luggage. Beyond that, it’s the fact that the process ends sooner, and you feel like a cow moving to the slaughterhouse for slightly fewer minutes.

In contrast to that non-cow feeling is the irrefutable truth that the plane doesn’t leave until everyone is on board. Boarding earlier doesn’t get you to your destination earlier and it doesn’t insure that you will deplane earlier – that’s a whole ‘nother dance.

Which brings me back to where I started. What difference does it make if someone pre-boards?

Consider who gets to pre-board.

Let’s go in inverse order:

Active military – I’m totally good with that. Active military personnel also get to go to Afghanistan earlier than I do. They can cut in front of me for the plane, for coffee, at the ATM – if they’re home on leave, every minute counts. They don’t need to spend any of that precious time standing behind me.

People with infants and children in strollers – In addition to being a nice thing to do for people who are likely to be overwhelmed by the stress of travel, we are all better off if we let these people board first. If you leave them in the mix, it will slow down everything.

People who need a little extra time boarding – This is the group people sometimes get upset about. What defines “needing extra time”? The people do. Don’t judge and don’t ask – it’s none of your business. People might have a visible impairment – they might be in a wheelchair or on crutches or in a brace. Others might have issues that you can’t see but which require a little more time. On the flight to Atlanta, I sat next to a woman who was deaf. She boarded early because she can’t understand instructions. Other people might have limited vision or hearing. They might be in pain. They might be anxious about being in a Jetway with a bunch of frustrated cattle. Who cares? Sooner or later, we all get on the plane and sooner or later we all might be in the group that can pre-board.

Until I’m in that group, those people can board before me with my blessing. If they need help getting their bag up or back down, I’ll provide that help.

Last week, I said “mean people should stay home.” I was talking about eating out. Maybe I should extend that to air travel.

Today’s gallery has a few photos from the cleanup after our recent ice storm and a few of the usual suspect.

75 thoughts on “Go Ahead – Pre-Board

Add yours

  1. I find that these days there is always someone, for whatever reason, bent out of shape and making a scene. We live in an age of greater abundance, freedom and prosperity yet many people are less tolerant, quicker to judge and act on those judgments than they have in many years.
    I always love your river photos. They have a romantic yet melancholy feel to them. Have a great week Dan.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Cheryl. You make a good contrast between what we have and how we appreciate what we have.

      We had a few inches of snow and ice on Wednesday, then warm rain. The rivers are up and the fog is rising off the remaining frozen slush.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like your sentiments here. I travel a lot for business and could not agree more. I also provide help with the bags up and down.
    I do however have one group that seriously irk me, those who have not paid for early boarding but do the whole “Oh sorry I did not realise” routine. They should be left board last in my opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t run into too many from that group. I have seen a few turned away at the gate. If it were up to me, there would be a few folks taking a bus to their next destination.

      Thanks for the comment.


  3. You’re right, Dan. Mean people should stay home or get counseling for the anger. Something. I wonder if that guy figured out that early boarding or being the last one on the plane doesn’t matter…unless he was in a hurry to sit and watch a video on his phone while getting angry again over why people are boarding so slowly and why they haven’t left yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mary. It’s not like there’s a prize waiting for you. Unless you have a window seat, boarding early just means you are going to get up to let someone else in. I like aisle seats, and I know that means “don’t get comfortable until those other folks are on board.” I’ve seen this a lot on Southwest, where you pay to get that early boarding slot, and where boarding early does impact your seat selection.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Even under the best of circumstances, air travel is stressful, with all of the waiting, the security checkpoints, and the overbooked flights. Folks like those you describe make it even worse. My pet peeve is the traveler with multiple giant carry-on bags who incredulously claims to the ticket agent that they will fit into the sizing frame. I almost burst out into applause when an agent recently challenged the passenger to do so and then forced her to check the oversized bag.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh, it would be a rare treat to see that, Mike. I wonder how they get those bags through security. I usually check my bag. I carry on my laptop backpack and a smaller bag for my iPad. I put the backpack in the overhead and then I actually get to use the leg room I paid for.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. What a great way to start a foggy, rainy Monday. I love this post, Dan. Thank you. :-) Traveling by air has become so painful because of being surrounded by thousands of mean people, that when I consider traveling for ‘pleasure’ I just hope I can get there in my own car. The only other thing better besides the issues mentioned here is that the airlines are constantly trying to make the seats smaller so they can carry more passengers while we humans continue to get bigger – not a recipe for pleasure either. But, now on to Maddie shots – she’s still beautiful and not mean at all. But, she is going to have to watch mud season which has started early for you. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. I’m glad you enjoyed this. You’re right about those seats getting smaller. I now pay for the extra legroom on most trips, because it makes a huge difference in how I feel at the other end. I would prefer it if I could drive, or take the train.

      Maddie got herself into the doghouse for being mean to MiMi last week. Sometimes, she just goes off. She was pretty good over the weekend, which was a surprise, because she was stuck inside most of the time. This was tough, because we had standing water and mud, but we also had lots of ice hiding beneath the surface.


  6. I do t understand why people stress about boarding. When my kids were young I loved pre boarding as I did not have impatient people behind me causing me stress which in turn would stress my kids, which led to crying. We all have our assigned seats. And hand luggage? There is always space even if it means it is taken by the attendants for safe keeping. Life is too short to stress about getting on a plane first. That person you are talking about is setting himself up for a heart attack!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Colline for validating my thoughts about the people traveling with little kids. I never did, but it always seemed like a good idea to let them board first.

      That guy really is giving himself some unnecessary stress. It’s just not worth it. And, you look pretty bad when you react like that. He was about 10 seconds from being escorted out of line.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. I’ve boarded at all points in the process over the years. Unless you’re paying for the spot up front with the drink service while you wait to taxi, you’re not much better off being early. Unless it’s Southwest, and you risk getting a middle seat.


  7. Wow! This guy isn’t just mean, he’s an idiot. I too don’t see what the advantage is of boarding first. What’s the difference if you’re waiting on line while others pre-board, or waiting in your seat while others continue to board? Sux of one, half a dozen of the other.

    And these are the same idiots we encounter in lines at the market, the bank, the gas station, the ER ……if there’s a line, there’s an idiot!

    Love those foggy photos. But I got my Maddie fix so I’m good to go on a very dreary, cold Monday. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “if there’s a line, there’s an idiot!” Thanks for that truism, Ginger. I would have been better off boarding later on this flight, I had the aisle seat at the beginning of coach where they start shoving three seats in where two used to be. People had to jog to the left to get around me. It seemed like every other person walked into me or hit me with their luggage. Note to self: don’t ever take that seat again.

      I told Maddie: “if you’re going to use me as a pillow, I’m going to take your picture.”


  8. WP is back to preventing me from *liking* your posts, so I hope you don’t think it’s a passive editorial comment on my part 😕

    Most people keep these kinds of thoughts to their ‘inside voice’, but then there are the few who feel the need to share their ‘moral outrage’ with everyone else – regardless of how small or insignificant the issue.
    Meanwhile, I’m happy to be one of the last people on the plane … praying that I don’t have to sit beside this person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joanne – I had a nagging fear that this guy was going to be near me on the flight. Sorry about the WP “Like” thing – I don’t get it, but it happens and there’s not much you can do.

      “Think before you speak!” God knows, I make my fair share of stupid statements, but they usually aren’t anywhere near this category. Board – sit – fly.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t travel much anymore. I have a “disability”. If you see me in a library or walking through our apartment block to get the post, you would think that I am kidding. However, I can’t walk more than about 100 yards without being in extreme pain and I can’t stand up unsupported for more than a few minutes. In a scenario, let’s say that I have been dropped off by the disabled wagon without you seeing me and you don’t know that my wheelchair is in the hold. However, when you see me walk to the pre-board, you may wonder why I am in that group. Not everyone’s disability is immediately obvious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a very good point, David. There’s so much that isn’t obvious that it’s better to just assume the person needs the time. It isn’t hurting anyone to let someone else go first. Thank you!


  10. I fly Southwest whenever possible and love them. I know you’ve had an issue or two before with them, but I’ve seen and experienced nothing but good. With them, you can pay $15 each way for Early Bird status. That means you get assigned a boarding position (no assigned seats on SWA) before the boarding check-in is open to everyone else. I always wondered what would happen if everyone signed up, but that’s another thing. They pre-board and then the first fifteen to load are some sort of frequent fliers or people who pay a bit more to get into those first fifteen.

    The only reason I often get the Early Bird is so I’m sure to have room for my carry-on bag in the overhead bin. As mentioned in an earlier comment, the people who make my annoyed are those (often businessmen) with two enormous carry-on bags, one of which will obviously not fit under the seat in front of him. Add to that people who put their coats in the overhead bin, especially when there’s a specific announcement not to do so until all the carry-on bags have been stowed! Then there are the noise-makers, the ones who either have their device not running through headphones/earbuds or who talk and laugh as if no one else were on the plane trying to do anything else.

    Leaving out having to get to the airport so early for security, I still rather enjoy flying for the most part, as I’m flying for pleasure, not business, going somewhere I want to visit or coming home from such a place. I’m going to be signing up for TSA Global, but I’ve been very fortunate that in all but one of my last domestic flights, I’ve been randomly assigned TSA-Pre. What a blessing that is!

    OK, my tome is over and it’s back to work. Hope you have a wonderful day today and down with the complainers!!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet! I fly Southwest at least once or twice a year. The issues I had were customer service related, not flight service. I do pay for the Early Bird seating, for the same reasons. On Southwest, I like being able to stick my backpack in the overhead bin, so I can stretch my legs out in front of me.

      The other people you mention are just problem-children who never grew up or who aren’t being raised properly. I once asked a woman if her daughter could lower the volume of the movie she was watching. The woman grudgingly agreed, but not after saying “she doesn’t like wearing headphones.”

      My daughter gave me a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for Christmas. She gave them to me because of a recent hearing problem I had, but they are my new favorite travel gadget.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have witnessed some scenes similar to the one you describe. Underneath it all, there rests a kind of “I’m in a situation that I can’t control so I will take it out on someone who I know I can bully.” You find the same thing relative to handicapped parking. I use a cane to get around. I have a nice car that is usually clean. I also have the State of Texas lifetime authorization to park in handicapped. I can’t tell you how many times I have been accosted by a “well meaning” citizen challenging my right to use the space. The last time, a guy was leaning arms folded, on his car parked next to the space. He had a handicapped sticker but wasn’t using it. When I pulled in, he stood up, and I could tell he was going to say something. I opened the door and put my cane out first. “Any questions?” I asked as I struggled to get out. “Nope,” was his response. I think most people assume handicapped places are only for those who obviously need financial as well as physical help. Like you pointed out, no one knows if a person needs “a little extra time.” Good post, Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. I think you’re right about the underlying reason behind such outbursts. Like David mentioned above, or the deaf woman in the seat next to me – it isn’t always obvious why someone needs extra time, but it’s always a good idea to cut someone some slack.

      There are medical offices on the floor below us at work. As a consequence, there are a lot of handicapped-reserved parking spots in our lot. I have heard people make comments about the cars parked in them, as if the car has to be handicapped. I have never understood that.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Dan – I’d rather board last … but then I don’t get a space for my reasonable cabin bag – when many others have stretched the limit … sadly many are selfish, and worse as your ‘friend’ appears to be here. Travel of any kind can be a nuisance … a rush against life in general … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment Hilary. I, too carry a reasonably sized bag, but aisle seats very often have a much smaller underseat storage area, so I stick my backpack in the overhead. I am certain that if everyone followed the rules (or if the airlines enforced them) there wouldn’t be a problem with overhead bin space.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Some people are just not patient. For many years, Delta SkyMiles Premier (or whatever they called it then) members were allowed to board with all the special needs people, and they’d stampede onto the plane and block the people that needed more time to board. Now, they don’t let them board until people who need the extra time are seated, and a few of them are not happy about it, even though it’s been that way for years.

    Not necessarily about boarding, but about sitting on the plane:

    I was flying back to Atlanta from LaGuardia, and the weather is terrible: it was snowing and the wind was blowing so hard the snow is falling sideways, for all intents and purposes flying parallel to the ground. They de-iced the plane at the gate, but by the time we were ready to take off it needed to be de-iced again. So we sat and waited for the guys with the de-icer, and since they were swamped (even though about 75% of the flights had been canceled), it took about 30 minutes to get to us.

    About 15 minutes into our wait, a guy sitting a few rows ahead of me hits his call button. The flight attendant came and the guy said, loud enough for half the plane to hear, “why the f— are we just sitting here?”

    Like you said, some people should just stay home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t remember the days when premium passengers could board with or before those needing extra time. That seems to be asking for trouble. Still , some people seem to want to cause trouble regardless. Air travel sing what if used to be, and it hadn’t been good for decades. Thanks John.


  14. I love that image with brewery on the river.I

    Great post. Flying is so stressful and often uncomfortable today. I don’t fly often but splurged on tea pre so I can avoid long lines and too many grouchy people. I also pay for early boarding so I can get an aisle seat and space in an overhead bin. I try to travel light and get everything into a carryon. I don’t mind waiting for everyone to board, or waiting for those that board before me.
    But getting on just a wee bit earlier has eased the stress and anxiety I get on flying days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I saw that brewery on a foggy day and thought it would make a nice picture, but I couldn’t stop. This weekend we had more fog and rain, so…

      I don’t like flying, but I try to make it as stress free as possible. Boarding earlier does help, so if I can arrange that, I do.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Well said! We did a lot of travel for a few years (mostly with four small children), and the pre-boarding was a blessing. Personally I think military ought to go first on every flight. They’re the real VIPS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can only imagine what it would be like to be in with a general boarding group with small children. I just don’t see any good reason to ask them to do that or to expect that to work. And yes, let the active military personnel get on board (and give them a free drink).


  16. OH YES! “Mean people should stay home” is the perfect mantra for air travel. Next time I’m waiting, waiting, waiting for everyone to get settled on the plane, I shall chant it to myself as a way of calming myself down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – and you can add an evil look to any that make it on your plane. I just don’t see any upside from acting like that. It doesn’t change anything about your flight, except to make you look bad in front of others.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great idea!

      It reminds me of the time a Southwest Flight Attendant, when going over the safety instructions, said: “If you’re traveling with a child, or an adult who is acting like a child, put you oxygen mask on first and then attend to the other person.”


      Liked by 1 person

  17. You’re right . The plane won’t leave until everyone boards . ( Of course , you may get bumped –but that’s another story ). Why get yourself worked up and angry ! What I have to count to ten for is when they’re late boarding and then they make the announcement that begins: ” In order to board all passenger on time , please…………..”

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Now comes the challenge for all photographers to find beauty in the mush. Great gallery, Dan. I hate to break this to you …. but you will find mean people anywhere. Sorry you had to be exposed to someone the likes of that man. Really? What difference as you pointed out, does it all make? The plane is still leaving with ALL passengers at a certain time. Some people have such empty hearts they have to dump their misery along the way just to try to get others to feel the same as they. Grrrrrrrr ………

    Liked by 1 person

  19. First Class passengers preboard here as well. Also “our special clients” — whatever that means. I always hear it being announced. Maybe they have some kind of agreement, or they are the frequent travellers you have mentioned. Once, a woman had a baby on board. The kid cried throughout the flight, screaming. It was most uncomfortable. I thought maybe it was due to the pressure variation and the ear feeling kind of blocked, so you have to keep swallowing. And once I was sitting at the window and, when we were about to land, I saw the earth bending and folding up like something from The Matrix. My bones went cold, too cold, and I was stiff. I gripped my seat as if my fingers were teeth.
    Anyway, I agree with you, too. Mean people should stay home. But I think it is mostly kind people who stay home. Enjoy your day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Peter. I love the way your mind works. That landing imagery sounds scary, but the kind of scary you can’t stop watching. I think you’re right about the babies too. I feel bad for the parents, but it is hard listening to that, because they are in a state of discomfort, and they are loud.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I am always grateful my life hasn’t taken me into the “friendly skies” very often…and I always appreciate reports from the front lines of the current condition confirming my thankfulness knows no bounds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha – Thanks – happy to serve. It’s good to know that there is some upside to these trips besides getting me from Point-A to Point-B.

      In fairness, now that I’m used to narrow rows and the fact that I am just going to suck-it-up and pay more for legroom, flying usually isn’t that bad. It just never ceases to amaze me that people still can and do make it worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Amen to every word of this post, Dan. Flying seems to bring out the worst in some people; and, increasingly, I’m finding it difficult to hang onto my sense of humor. I do have to smile though when United has a boarding line for first class with lines for each group 2, 3, and 4 right next to it. And, after line 1 is empty because first-class is boarded, woe be unto you if you accidentally stay into it and try to board from there. Sheesh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet. It is getting harder and harder to stay sane, let alone maintain your sense of humor. The best thing about this last trip was that my daughter gave me noise-cancelling headphones for Christmas.


  22. People look at things the wrong way a lot. I dunno why. I like to be helpful, and I think I am so lucky when I can help, not when I need help. That’s just sad. I wonder how people get to the level of ire they do, when obviously they’re lucky.
    Great snowy tree :)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wow — you DID have an ice storm! Hope you didn’t lose Sammy’s tree. What beautiful photos — especially of the mist and the tree silhouettes. REALLY nice! Maddie’s coat looks so healthy and glossy. What a pretty girl!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thanks for helping with navigation (the last time I came at you post, the Thurs. Door post was on, and couldn’t find how to get to another post. But now I saw the different posts !
    In the past we were the ones one the plane – now it’s our turn to pick up people with jetlag from the airport:) Agree totally – be early and you develop an eye for people with social problems, and stay at a distance!

    Liked by 1 person

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