Wednesday, May 9, 2012

US Airways' Fair, Efficient, Consistent Boarding Process

Just kidding!

There's no such thing. 
After taking about ten flights this year on US Airways, in various markets, on different equipment from a number of airports (LGA, CLT, SFO, among others), we've come to the conclusion that when it comes to equitable, consistent boarding processes...US Airways has its head up its aviation ass. 
Here's how it goes when it's time to board a US Airways flight:
  • The gate agent announces that "We will begin boarding in 3 or 4 minutes."
  • 20 to 25 minutes later, we begin boarding.
  • The gate agent announces "We will board by zone numbers, which are printed on your boarding pass."
  • We board according to descriptive categories, and the zone numbers are never mentioned again.
    • Exception: Zone numbers are mentioned when people in zones 3 or higher are told to kiss their carry on luggage goodbye, because the overhead bins are going to fill up faster than an Aeroflot lavatory.
  • There is a mad cluster f*** as everyone rushes to the PreferredAccess lane and boards whenever the hell they want to.
  • The gate agents don't bother looking at anyone's boarding pass to see whether they are even remotely associated with the group supposedly authorized to board at that point.
    • Exception: The FAA mandates that there be one RALGA – Random Angry Lady Gate Agent – at each US Airways boarding zone. This agent will randomly stop a passenger from boarding, saying "We're not boarding your zone number yet! Listen for the zone numbers!"

      The passenger will point out that they haven't even called any zone numbers, just random agglomerations of status categories, like "Silver Gold Platinum Star Preferred Elite Access Premium VISA Card holders," and the passive-aggressive RALGA will say, "Fine, if it's that important, just go ahead and board," circumventing the lone attempt to enforce some rule at boarding time.
Maybe your experience is better than ours – but this is what we've seen every time.

At SFO, in fact, the boarding announcements are made by the disembodied voice of an invisible agent who is not even in viewing range of the gate that's boarding. This results in that awkward moment when the BP scanner stops working and nobody can board, but the agent keeps encouraging new groups to board every 20 seconds or so.

Way to go, US Airways.

Way to go.


Bonus: For a laugh, read SeatGuru's description of US's boarding procedure. Key word: RANDOM.

Double-Bonus: Humorous treatment of same topic from 2010, as seen on

No comments:

Post a Comment