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.
Executive 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, ET 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?