Many people love to go somewhere over the holidays. Few love the travel process. Flights are full and lines are long. Plus, in the Northern Hemisphere, winter can play havoc with flight schedules.
Lately, with all the hassles and issues, one of the worst parts of airline travel, to my mind, has become the boarding process. Around the holidays, the boarding grinches come out in force.
1. The “I’ve got to be first in my boarding group” grinch. Okay, I get it. Being in a late boarding group might mean having to gate check a bag, and no one enjoys doing that. But those in the first, second and even third group usually have no problems. So one would think there’s no rush.
But, well before boarding commences, many people start lining up in earnest, so that often it’s almost impossible to get in line for an early boarding group, as the area is so congested.
2. The “I don’t care when I’m supposed to board, I’m going to stand in front of the boarding area and block everyone’s way”grinch. These days, gate agents don’t let many people sneak on board early. I’ve seen at least a few people stopped. But, often travelers have to step around others just standing there near the front.
3. The “So my kids look like they could shave but they’re small children for boarding purposes” grinch. No one begrudges people with babies boarding early. Okay, maybe sometimes when we’re really tired and cranky there may be some grumbling.
But, there’s nothing like seeing families with older children, sometimes children taller than I, trying to talk their way onto the plane early.
4. The “So I’m more loaded down than Santa, but I’m really not over the two carry-on limit” grinch. In theory, the airlines are cracking down on this. However, it still seems like on most flights, there are always a few people with a rolling bag, another decent sized carry-on, as well as an indiscriminate number of shopping bags and/or a purse.
And to be fair, there have been times I’ve grabbed food for the plane or a few magazines, or even a small duty-free bag, beyond my two allotted. We probably all have. But, there are those who take it to an art form.
5. The “I not only need my coat overhead, it must be placed there perfectly” grinch. We don’t get as many of these in California. But, on recent flights via Germany I watched boarding come to a halt over and over as someone would get to their row, carefully remove their coat, and then work carefully to immediately place it overhead.
In one jetway, Lufthansa had a sign asking passebgers, in German and English, to remove their coats before boarding to speed up the process. This worked for some, but not all, passengers.
One gentleman, and I use the word loosely, not only spent some time on a coat removal/folding maneuver, bringing boarding to a complete halt, he then decided it wasn’t good enough and pulled the coat out, shook it, and carefully refolded and placed it up there again. Topped with his hat. (A corollary on this is when passengers then close the bins so no one can place anything on top of their coat and hat.)
The problem with these grinches — unlike the kids who kick your seat, the people who steal both armrests, and the other folks who are just plain obnoxious — is that they slow down boarding, which can delay departures. These days, with so many airports at or near capacity at peak times, a missed departure slot can mean serious ground time waiting for an opening.
No doubt Consumer Traveler readers can add to this list. Suggestions?