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TALKING POINT | Priority boarding is one of the many perks offered to business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers. But it's not always well-executed by the airlines, and tends to be of varying use depending on if you're making a domestic or international flight.
Indeed, we often hear from many readers that – depending on the airline and the airport – they've all but given up on priority boarding.
Australian Business Traveller journalists and very frequent flyers Chris Chamberlin and Brandon Loo compare thoughts on their own priority boarding preferences and experiences.
Brandon: “When it comes to domestic flights I'm early in the priority boarding line."
"Being based in Launceston I'll occasionally take a weekend trip to Melbourne or Sydney with just hand luggage. These flights are quite often jam-packed in both directions and I appreciate being able to get on early, put my bags away and just settle down with my Kindle and headphones (plus a glass of sparkling wine if I'm in the pointy end!)."
Chris: "I’m personally more of a ‘sit down and take off’ kind of traveller, and particularly on domestic journeys, I’d rather not spend any more time on the plane than I have to! I prefer to remain in the lounge a little longer – finishing off my coffee or whatever I’m working on, before heading to the gate once most people are already on board."
Brandon: "That might be the case if Launceston had a lounge which I can access! But I tend to fly with Virgin Australia and there's no lounge for me. Launceston Airport is very compact so it's easy to arrive half an hour before departure with a mobile boarding pass, breeze through security and be ready to board within minutes."
"In Melbourne or Sydney, I might leave the lounge just before they call the flight so I'm at the gate when they start boarding."
Chris: "But when boarding begins, don't you often find a line-up inside the aerobridge itself? Not that this bothers me too much – if I’ll be sitting down for the next couple of hours, extra time on my feet is certainly welcome – but it can be frustrating all the same."
Brandon: "As a Velocity frequent flyer with status I've found the priority boarding experience to be quite consistent overall. Sitting on the plane a bit longer doesn't bother me since the flights are so short anyway, and I just feel calmer once I've settled into my seat rather than waiting in the gate area."
Chris: "My biggest gripe about early boarding is if I'm sitting in an aisle seat. Board early and you’re almost certain to be whacked by passengers’ bags, especially backpacks – and as most of my domestic flights are day trips where I’ll have a laptop bag at most, overhead locker space isn’t normally a concern."
Brandon: "What about priority boarding on international flights? I know you do a lot more of those than me!"
Chris: "This is where priority boarding is much more important, particularly with larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 where there can be 400-600 other passengers on the same flight."
"Rather than the ‘board last’ approach I usually take for domestic flights, if I’m flying business class, boarding early allows me to get settled – usually with a nice glass of Champagne – while I peruse the menu, send any last-minute texts or emails, and store my belongings around the seat."
Brandon: "Agreed. When boarding is going to take a long time it's nice to get on early and unwind, check out what movies I'll catch up on and see if there's some interesting food on the menu!"
Chris: "It's one of those little delights before take off, isn't it? Settle into your seat, have a drink and start checking out the menu! It's a time when you realise life's not too bad..."
Over to you, AusBT readers: how important is priority boarding for your journeys, and for those who use it, should airlines do a better job at checking who’s in the queue?