We learn to count early in life. Numbers go in order. So do letters, for that matter. Lists make sense to us all from a very young age because they are properly ordered. So why is it that airlines haven’t figured out how to properly use ordinal lists in their boarding process?
Think Boarding Group A is the first to get on the plane? That makes sense given that “A” is the first letter in the alphabet. With airlines, however, there’s a pretty good chance you’re wrong. JetBlue recently switched its boarding process to use group designators. And some lucky passengers get Group A on their boarding pass, but they’re not first to board.
That benefit is reserved for Mint and Mosaic customers. Just like most other airlines premium cabin travelers go first. So do the frequent flyers who hold status in the loyalty program. But they’re in the Mosaic group, and that comes before Group A. Which only makes sense if you work at an airline.
JetBlue is not alone in this, of course. United Airlines finally changed its boarding groups a few years ago to more closely reflect the reality of counting. More recently American Airlines did the same. Yet both still have some passengers that board before their Group 1 passengers are called. Delta Air Lines has a Group 1 as well, but those passengers start boarding about half way through any given flight.
What is so hard about putting together a list starting at 1 or A? I watched as my flight boarded earlier this week in San Francisco and at least half a dozen people in Group A were turned away from the front of the line during the priority boarding process. Yes, they should’ve listened more closely to the announcements. But also, why would anyone suspect that if you’re in the first (based on the common understanding of ordinal lists we’ve all held since learning to count as a toddler) group you’re not supposed to go when things start?
So, yeah, passengers are part of the problem. They don’t listen and don’t care and think the rules must apply to someone else, not to them. But the airlines’ ability to break every common convention we have with respect to counting and letter sequences is pretty amazing. And not in a good way.
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