How Qantas Could Fix Priority Boarding

How Qantas Could Fix Priority BoardingIt’s common knowledge among frequent flyers that Qantas priority boarding doesn’t work. Not only does Qantas not police the priority boarding queue, but it boards the priority lane at exactly the same time as the general boarding lane. These lines then merge in the aerobridge.

This week, one AFF member proposes a solution that Qantas could adopt to improve its priority boarding process. And it could actually work.

The solution suggested by juddles is inspired by the new boarding process used for LATAM Airlines domestic flights. LATAM is a Oneworld member and the largest airline in South America.

I am aware that priority boarding, and excess cabin baggage, are two common areas for pax disatisfaction and airline pain. I just want to explain a solution to these issues that LATAM in Chile only just recently implemented, and my first impressions are “wow – this really works!”.

As juddles explains, the new LATAM Airlines boarding process uses four groups:

  1. Passengers requiring special assistance
  2. Frequent flyers with elite status
  3. All other passengers without bulky carry-on baggage (e.g. roll-aboards)
  4. All other passengers with bulky carry-on baggage

This priority boarding system solves several problems simultaneously. Firstly, each group is boarded on-at-a-time. The next group only begins boarding once the previous group is completely finished boarding.

They embark their passengers in distinct groups, by priority. STRICTLY. So the first group goes, then the second, etc. No dual-group boarding nonsense like Qantas.

The boarding groups are also strictly enforced. In fact, to improve efficiency the airline staff also check and scan the boarding passes of everyone in the first two groups before boarding begins.

About 5 minutes before actual boarding, the staff whizz up the first and second groups with a portable scanner and scan everyone’s BP, so when they open the gate door these first two columns zip out in seconds.

Virgin Australia already boards its priority queue first, and it already ensures the lane is used only by Business Class, Platinum, Gold and Economy X passengers. That’s why priority boarding currently works vastly better on Virgin Australia than Qantas. But LATAM Airlines’ new priority boarding system solves yet another problem: excess carry-on baggage.

Qantas recently began weighing carry-on luggage at the boarding gate. But another way to encourage passengers to carry less (or check in their baggage) is to board passengers with large carry-on bags last. This could reduce the boarding scrum that results when passengers are competing for limited overhead locker space.

Do you think this system could fix Qantas priority boarding? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: For QF and VA – a LATAM solution to boarding that WORKS!!


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]