Quick etiquette tip: Wait your turn to board!

There is a chronic issue that plagues airports. It’s not delayed flights (although it feels like that’s a constant issue too!). It is people airport genericgetting in the boarding line before it’s their turn. It happens all the time and is super annoying to other passengers.

It’s not just one airline; it happens all over! Last week I flew American, and half of the people in line to board for first class were in a different group. The result is that boarding was slowed down for everyone! Yes, this was annoying, although not nearly as bad as what happened this week.

Yesterday I flew Southwest. I am trying desperately to maintain my waning love for Southwest (more on that another time) so I do my best to stay positive about their insane boarding process. “Stay cool!” I tell myself as I walk over to the stanchions. My place is B38, hardly a good placement but what can you do. When I get near the B35-40 stanchion I see a large group of men, clearly friends and traveling together, blocking the way. “Excuse me,” I say politely. “I’m up there.” They don’t move.

I tried asking a specific man in the group, who was standing in front of the B40-45 stanchion. “Hi there! I’m in the group ahead.” He looked at my boarding pass and said, “I’m B42. You’re B38. Do the four places matter that much?” He then turned back to talking to his friend.

On the one hand, he has a point. No, those four places didn’t matter that much. I never worry about getting exactly in order, just in the general vicinity of my boarding group. But the fact was that he had five guys with him who had later boarding passes also planning to board before me. So what had been four spots turned into ten. If it had just been that guy and one person, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But six people are harder to ignore than one or two! Not to mention how rude he was.

Certainly people should be able to board with their loved ones. But there is a difference between a family member joining you and a large group of friends. Also, why the attitude? I was trying to get to my actual boarding spot, and he was blocking it!

The best thing to do is to wait until your group is called, and stand as close to your assigned space as possible. If someone around you messes up, it’s not a big deal–but try to be correct yourself. The more people boarding at the correct time, the smoother the whole process will go!

Readers, have you had any strange boarding experiences lately?


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  1. I concur – people who can’t figure out how boarding works on any given airline clearly aren’t smart enough for air travel, IMO. Perhaps even more annoying? People that fill up the boarding area well ahead of time, thereby blocking folks de-boarding the plane. It’s just like an elevator folks – let those on board off before attempting to board.

  2. My last Southwest flight, the gate agent would not take anyone out of numerical order. She announced it several times and scolded people if they were not in proper order.

  3. @Allison *golf clap* to your SW gate agent.

    There’s a reason why people who crowd the gate before their group are called “gate lice”.

    That being said, when boarding for SW, I have no problem letting a small group who have slightly different numbers ahead of me so they can board together. But don’t think for a second that if you’re holding C45 that you’re going to jump ahead of my B15!

  4. Grrrrr – that’s a situation in which my knee-jerk feeling would be to wonder if That Guy would have been so dismissive if you were another man instead of a woman. I have a feeling that I might have given him a snotty response & made my way to my correct location much less politely than you!

  5. So what happened? Did you cave or did you insist that he allow you through? It seems like such bully behavior on his part, and I really hope you didn’t let him get away with it by making you feel like you were being unreasonable.

  6. Ugh…that guy was a JERK. I’m really not sure how I would have reacted because it was almost like he was trying to belittle you/make you seem “uncool” for *actually* following the rules while at the same time propping up his buddies. I really don’t do well with people like that.

    And actually it COULD be a big deal because as has been discussed here MANY times before, overhead space is often at a premium, especially if you were traveling with a roller board and 10 extra passengers/bags could very well make a difference! I don’t consider myself a “gate louse” but I am definitely very aware of what group is being called because I want to make sure I am boarding toward the front of that group (because yes, I am usually traveling with a roller board)

  7. Wow. I would have said something. “As a matter of fact, it does. Could you please step behind me?”
    I guess I’m getting old and cranky and tired of the entitlement. I hate to say male entitlement, but boy it sure looks like it.

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