We are now welcoming guests . . .
Sitting in my own flight’s holding pen, I hear loud loudspeaker announcements without end, amen, from Another Airline. They seem to have several flights departing from adjacent gates within a few minutes of each other. Thus do their standard boarding announcements gradually repeat themselves into my consciousness.
I frown thoughtfully. Over many years of association, my airline has given no sign that it considers me to be a welcome guest. A nuisance, perhaps? A necessary evil? While I consider my category, the standard announcements continue.
. . . with Elite, Platinum, Executive, Pre-eminent,
Tier 1, Select, or Peerless status . . .
My thought that Another Airline might be fundamentally different — more egalitarian, perhaps — evaporates with the recitation of privileged statuses. Perhaps my memory exaggerates. Perhaps not. But the more pertinent point is, I think, this: Why do all airlines consider early boarding a perk, rather than a punishment? Wouldn’t it be more desirable to have time and space saved for us to board at the last minute?
But we’ve only just begun with points to consider.
or with gold credit cards in good standing;
or with any level of our very own airline credit card
available immediately from the friendly gate staff;
Good grief. Did I hear that aright?
or who gave us a good review on their last customer survey;
Huh? Maybe I am hearing things. I give my head a shake.
or who’ve flown with us in the last fortnight;
Now just a minute. This is getting ridiculous.
or who can define “fortnight.”
Well, OK. Finally. Pick me. It’s good to know that I could board early if I were flying the friendly skies. And yet, at this rate, everyone will board early. Is that even possible? I guess they don’t think so . . .
We ask all others —
anyone pathetic enough
not to fall into one of the aforementioned categories —
to sit down and shut up.
I mean, please wait to be welcomed aboard.
Now it’s just barely possible that I misheard, misremembered, or misimagined these boarding announcements. But I contend that I got the gist.
Reminds me of the man who, in the days when you had a choice of meal during a lengthy flight, ordered a special meal. In due course he received his meal, but then noticed that everybody else had the same thing. His meal was no longer special.
So were you among the elite?
Tom – Yeah. We’re all going to get on the plane eventually, and we’ll arrive at destination at the same time, too. Although I understand that, these days, the pressing issue is space in the overhead bins. And no, we were not among the elite. We boarded with the rest of cattle class.
Years ago, a friend of my sister’s locked himself out of her car (he was returning it & left the only keys inside).
Once we all realized what he’d done, he threw itself down on the pavement, limbs flailing, crying, “Oh, gawd, I need to process this!” He had to get to the airport [an hour away] and Betsy was going to drive him there.
With great presence of mind and calmly, B called AAA (on speed dial), and 10 minutes later, they unlocked her car in a millisecond…
B drove him to airport and he made the flight — but only because the Chinese Airlines staff held the plane for him! He was very late, but they considered him a valued customer, no matter which seat he sat in or what boarding pass he was waving at them, running in a panic towards the gate.
When he stepped into the plane, the passengers all cheered!
Barbara – Now that’s the way to board a plane – the last one, to cheering. Although I bet he could have done without the drama beforehand.
I had an interesting experience recently, flying Southwest Airlines. Get this – your online check-in time determines your boarding position!! You are allocated a letter and number position in line (e.g., B27). At the boarding gates they have posts designating the A, B, C lines, and numeric positions (11-15, 16-20, etc.). And oh yes, those who line up in positions before their designated spot are sent back to find out where they should be. It was quite refreshing to see to see those self-entitled “this doesn’t apply to me” folks being put in their places, literally.
They still had the pre-boarding for families with small children, those needing physical assistance, and the military, but none of those Special Categories.
You still have to stand in line, but as as an agent explained to me, “Everybody’s the same, it’s much more democratic”.
Marion – Yes, that is an interesting variant. In theory, the purpose of controlling boarding should be to expedite it – all part of minimizing the time on the ground for that very expensive capital asset. Boarding from the back of the plane in small increments is likely the way to do that, if people would only pay attention. I knew a retired Transport Canada fellow who wanted to board people by columns, not rows: all window seats first, then middle ones, then aisles. Efficient? Probably? Doable, since it would have people travelling together boarding separately? Not likely.