British Airways has divided the Internet with its new “pay least, board last” policy that means passengers with the cheapest tickets will be last to get on the plane.
From December 12, all travellers flying within Europe will be given a group number between one and five at check-in, based on the fare they paid and their frequent flyer status.
The new boarding system will mean first class and frequent flyers will board the plane first and economy travellers and those with hand luggage-only tickets will be last to hop on the plane.
This type of boarding policy is pretty common among many US airlines, but it’s yet to become the norm across European airlines, leaving some worried about what the change might mean for Britain’s flagship carrier.
Some believe it will only accentuate the class system on planes. The people relegated to boarding the plane last – usually no-frills flyers with no checked bags – will end up facing jam-packed overhead lockers and crowded aisles when it’s finally their turn to board.
“If you’ve paid for Hand Baggage Only by the time you board (last) they’ll be no space left in the overhead lockers,” TV presenter Andi Peters tweeted.
“This idea of boarding people by their ability to pay is unfair. It should be done by rows if you wish to board more quickly,” another customer wrote.
While another added: “Oh dear #BritishAirways clearly you haven’t noticed it’s 2017 not 1917. Crazy as by rows is clearly far more efficient.”
Others pointed out that this method of boarding passengers is already in use by the likes of budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet.
“Why fly BA then, they’ve turned themselves into EasyJet and Ryanair,” one user Tweeted.
“Think BA has lost the plot. Instead of competing with the Aldi and Lidl of the airline world they should have stuck to offering more and costing more,” another added.
“Nothing quite like a British class system to let you know your place!” another unimpressed customer added.
But not everyone thought the new boarding policy was a bad idea.
“Suits me. It’s chaos getting on first. You can hold all the higher paying passengers up while slowly walking towards the aircraft!” one user commented.
“Doesn’t bother me. They’ll still need to wait for me to get on last, to fly on the same plane and go to the same location, all for a lot less money. You pay what you want, fools! #BritishAirways” another added.
“I thought airlines have always done this?” another user tweeted. “If people are prepared to pay way more for a seat that is essentially the same that’s on them. Equally, how sad do you have to be as a person to find your worth in an airline seat?!”
“I’ve no problem with everyone waiting for me to board and watch me squash their baggage up as I put mine in the over head locker,” another customer wrote about the new system.
British Airways told the BBC that the new rules would speed up boarding, since the guidelines would be easier to understand for customers.
“We are always looking at ways to improve and simplify the airport experience for our customers… Next month we are introducing new boarding procedures to speed up the process and make it simpler for customers to understand,” a spokesperson from BA said.
“This method has been used by airlines around the world for a number of years, including by our partners American Airlines, Iberia and Qatar.”
They went on to say that passengers who are travelling with children or have mobility issues will still be able to board ahead of everyone else.
It’s not the first time this year that an airline has made headlines. Back in July Iberia tried to introduce a policy, which required prospective female employees take a pregnancy test before being hired.
Iberia claimed that the tests were for the sake of safety, since women nearing the end of their pregnancy are advised not to travel.
But the company was forced to drop the practice after being fined for discrimination.
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