Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Still in Low-Content Mode, But...

I had the unique joy of flying on US Airways last night, since they were one of only two airlines with a direct flight from Orlando to San Diego. And I certainly won't blame them for the hour-plus delay in Phoenix after our first officer got sick; that could happen on any plane.

But I did get to experience the bizarre ritual they call a boarding process twice, which left me in awe at the depth of its Byzantine stupidity. I am a reasonable man, so I don't believe that they deliberately designed it to board people in the slowest, most confused fashion possible -- that must have been a side effect.

But they board people according to "zones," which, cunningly, do not correspond in any way to actual physical locations. (I had a window seat in the back half of the plane, and I was in the fifth of five zones.) The zones actually seem to correspond to how much US Airways likes you, which is probably closely related to the amount of money you've spent on their noisy planes recently. And that means that, effectively, US Airways boards aisle seats in the front of the plane first, and then has its air crew make a series of increasingly frantic announcements asking passengers to please board more quickly.

Such idiocy should not be encouraged; I'm going to try not to fly US Airways again.


Johan Larson said...

One might think it would be useful to line people up in a sensible order in the terminal, to minimize boarding time.

I would try boarding by seat letter, with each group lined up from high-number rows to low: first load the A's, from 50 to 1, then the B's and so on. That way no one has to squeeze past anyone else in the plane.

I wonder why they don't do something like that. Too military?

Andrew Wheeler said...

Johan: I think the real issues is that the airlines discovered that they can *sell* early boarding, and that people will pay for it, even if it makes the overall experience more hectic and complicated.

It's a dumb thing to buy, and it doesn't really help anyone, but you can't stop people from wasting their money.

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