At British Airways, the one who pays least will board last


British Airways will launch a new boarding system that is already attracting a lot of criticism

Boarding time is one of the major concerns of airline passengers. Especially when the plane is filled to capacity, it is not unusual to jostle at the gate to be the first to sit. And it’s not the announcement that passengers between the rows X and Y can board the first that changes things.

As more and more passengers travel only with hand luggage and the space above the seats fills up very quickly, the problem has only become worse.

That is the problem that British Airways is trying to tackle.

When the passenger checks in, whether online or at the airport, he will be assigned a group numbered between one and five. “This number will then be displayed prominently on the boarding pass, printed or mobile,” says British Airways in an internal newsletter. The passengers with number 1 will be able to board first. The higher the number, the longer the waiting time.

In practice, passengers travelling first and business, or Gold members of the British Airways Executive Club, will have priority and those who pay the cheapest fares and travel with only one piece of hand luggage will have to be more patient.

Passengers with mobility issues or who are travelling with young children will still be able to board ahead of everyone else.

This method has been used by airlines around the world for a number of years, including by our partners American Airlines, Iberia and Qatar,” says British Airways.

This measure, which will apply from December 12 on all short-haul flights operated by British Airways, is already receiving a lot of criticism on social networks.

In a society that tries to treat everyone equally, British Airways just does the opposite.

Everyone will now know how much money we have on the basis of the time we wait before boarding; it’s no longer the Walk of Fame but the Walk of Shame.”

Another remarked: “It’s like the Titanic, and as the ship sank, the rich could go on board the canoes first.”

And on FlyerTalk, Karfa proposes their own boarding system: “1. Me. 2. Everyone else.”

According to Belgian aeronautical expert Luk De Wilde, the system does not guarantee that boarding will be more orderly.

When a plane is ready to take off, the crew wants everyone on board as quickly as possible – there is often not enough time to check who has number 1 or 5 on their boarding pass.”


  1. British Airways goes one step ahead by splitting up economy passengers into two parts: the regular economy passengers and the “cheap charlie” economy passengers.

  2. This is the “ranking”:

    1. British Airways Executive Club gold members, long-haul first class passengers, short-haul Club Europe (business class) passengers *
    2. Silver members and long-haul Club World passengers
    3. Bronze Executive Club members and passengers in World Traveller Plus (premium economy)
    4. Economy passengers
    5. Passengers travelling on the cheapest, hand-baggage only fares in Europe **

    * Passengers with mobility restrictions or families will still be able to board first, frequent flyer statuses with one of British Airways’ Oneworld alliance partners will also get priority
    ** The hand-baggage only fare was introduced in 2013 in order to compete with low-cost carriers like easyJet.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.