Welcome to a new series of posts I have been working on: Airport Talk. I’ve traveled enough to have accumulated stories and insight into everything air-travel. Each post will have a different theme… to kick us off, let’s talk about boarding the plane.
Nine out of ten times I ignore my boarding group number on my boarding pass. I’m no fool– if I wait to board with my zone I’ll have to plane-side check my luggage. You all know the experience of plane-side checking…
You exit the plane only to have to stop and wait on the, either too hot or too cold, jetbridge. You see bag after bag being hurled up into the narrow jetbridge, but not yours. People continue to de-board the plane and pass you. This makes you angry because you hate waiting for things– especially when others don’t have to wait. Soon nearly everyone has left the jetbridge and finally your bag is thrown onto the floor in front of you. You grab it and exit the jetbridge in a significantly worse mood than you were in 5 minutes ago. ‘Wait that was only 5 minutes of waiting? Wow, those 5 minutes felt like forever.’
So anyways, back to boarding…not everyone can get away with boarding earlier than their group. I have seen people try and fail in an embarrassing fashion. Luckily no one ever questions me.
On my last trip I was assigned to Zone 4, which I didn’t understand because I had a window seat. The attendants were offering to check bags to our final destinations for no charge. I wasn’t in a rush so I volunteered to do so. As I was sitting at my gate the attendants started to call for boarding… this is how it went: “All Platinum Elite Ruby Members may now board. Gold Advanced Participants may now board. First class and all military personal in uniform may now board.” First class is the third group to board!? Hmm. These different ‘elite’ groups were too ridiculous to be real. I decided to wait and board with my zone for the first time ever. “All Silver Visa Reward Member Card Holders may now board. Anyone who paid for preferred access may now board.” By the time they got to Zone 1, there were five of us left. At least I wasn’t the scrub in Zone 5, right? As the attendant scanned my pass and I entered the jetbridge, I was thinking about how great it was to be the last person to board.
-I didn’t have to sit on the hot plane waiting for the entirety of the passengers to board.
-I didn’t have to wait anxiously for the rest of my row to show up, silently dying every time a smelly ungroomed person approached the row.
-And the best part: those fancy people who boarded before me with their Platinum Access Elite bullshit would have to move for ME… they would have to move for little ol’ Zone 4 me as I make my way into my window seat, (with a smirk on my face).
So all of this was going through my head as I turned onto the plane and scanned anxiously to see who was about to be really annoyed with my existence. I was hoping it would be some too-big-for-his-britches businessman who thinks he is better than the rest of us but is really just as scrubby as the poor Zone 5 guy. I reach row 15 and look at the occupants of the middle and aisle seats… two of the most brittle looking old ladies I have ever seen. As they look up at me, they realized they had to get up in order for me to pass. They didn’t say anything, but from the look in their eyes I could tell my existence didn’t annoy them… it broke their barely beating hearts. Well, I felt like an a**hole.
I’ll probably stick to my routine of sneaking on the plane early from now on.