British Airways Confirms “Group Boarding” From 12 December

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Last week I wrote about a strong rumor which suggested that British Airways was about to make some significant changes to the debacle it calls a boarding process. At the time I was confident that the information being provided on FlyerTalk was correct and now we finally have confirmation from British Airways itself.

Rather than wasting time putting the information into my own words, here’s what the airline has sent out to the travel industry:

Passengers to board in allocated groups

From this December, we’ll be changing things to simplify boarding, reduce congestion at the departure gate and make things easier for your customers to get away on their travels.

a hand holding a passport with a boarding pass

We’ve made two important changes to our boarding pass

We’ve added a ‘Group’ number, which will be automatically allocated to each passenger and reflects their boarding priority. The groups will be called to board in number order, reducing congestion and queuing at the gate.

We’ve changed the ‘Gate closes’ time to a ‘Board at’ time, which is when your customers need to be at their departure gate. These changes are designed to help your customers get to the gate on time and board the aircraft more easily.

Executive Club priority boarding

Boarding priority for Executive Club Gold, Silver or Bronze Members or oneworld® equivalents, will automatically be reflected in the group number given on their boarding pass. If they arrive after their group has been called, they can use the priority boarding lane to go through before the flight closes.

Please note that priority boarding will not be reflected for any other people travelling with an Executive Club Member on the same booking at the moment, but will be introduced in the coming months. In the meantime, the whole party can use the priority boarding lane and our staff will endeavour to board everyone together.

Group Definitions

a white table with black text


Families with small children

We invite families with infants under two and young children in pushchairs to board first, so that the whole family can settle in. Customers must arrive by the time specified on their boarding pass so that they are ready to board and we have enough time to load their pushchair into the hold.

Customers requiring disability or mobility assistance

We will assist customers on to the aircraft ahead of other passengers so that they have time to settle in and get comfortable. Please contact us at least 48 hours before their flight so that we can make the necessary arrangements.

a sign next to a reception deskLet’s hope the new rules  put an end to everybody on this list boarding at once!

TFM Thoughts

As I said last week, I’m quietly hopeful that this new process will do something to alleviate the crush when boarding is called and that it will bring a modicum of civility to the whole process.

Again, as I’ve said before, this will rely on British Airways gate agents actually doing their job and enforcing the new rules (something most of them have been incapable of doing with the existing rules) but I have reason to believe things will be ok this time.

This new BA boarding process is pretty similar to what you’ll find American Airlines has been doing for years and it generally works quite well for them. With no need for BA staff to understand anything more complicated than the fact that Group 1 boards before Group 2 there’s no reason for any confusion.

I have often stood at the gate wondering if the agents on duty actually know what the BA Executive Club ranks actually mean (I’ve long given up on the idea that they’ll one day understand oneworld terminology) but, with this new system, there’s no need for any understanding whatsoever.

All they have to do is call out the groups individually and we’ll all be fine….how hard can that be?

Bottom Line

I’ll be flying with BA very soon after this new boarding process is supposed to be implemented so I’ll report back how chaotic (or not) it is 🙂