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.