Finally! Group boarding rumoured on its way to British Airways.

Anyone who travels with any regularity on British Airways knows that boarding is mess. Always.  The photo I took from a recent flight to Gothenburg shows the melée that is the gate area.

The key problem is that everyone seems to have priority.  British Airways lump Gold, Silver, Bronze, Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby, First and Club all in the same “priority” group.  On some flights, that’s most of the aircraft.

Some outstations like Amsterdam restrict priority to Club and Gold/Emerald only, but it’s fairly haphazard.

This is something that other airlines do get right – nearly all of the US carriers, American included have a well defined group boarding system.  American have nine different boarding groups, but it’s consistently enforced and works well.

However, if the rumours are true, it looks like from December, British Airways will be introducing group boarding.

Longhaul flight will have these groups:

  1. First class, Gold cards, Oneworld Emerald
  2. Club World, Silver cards, Oneworld Sapphire
  3. Premium Economy, Bronze cards, Oneworld Ruby
  4. Economy
  5. Economy

On shorthaul flights, there will be the following groups:

  1. Club Europe, Gold cards, Oneworld Emerald
  2. Silver cards, Oneworld Sapphire
  3. Bronze cards, Oneworld Ruby
  4. Economy
  5. Hand-baggage only fares

This is a massive leap forwards if confirmed.  However, there are a couple of questions that I have, namely:

  • Will Gold Guest List passengers get to pre-board in a similar way to Concierge Key members do on American (and Global Services on United)?
  • If you have status and are on a hand-baggage only fare, will you board with your status group, or group 5?

I’m very positive that this change can only help with the current scrum that is getting on a British Airways flight.  It’ll only work if it is consistently enforced everywhere, by both British Airways and contract staff.  There will of course be a bedding-in period, but this could start to finally address a key part of the passenger experience that has been lacking – the ground experience.

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