EXCLUSIVE | Qantas will “enhance” its domestic priority boarding process, implementing changes to make it work better for frequent flyers. The changes will come into effect at major Australian airports from next Monday, 25 November 2019.
As an airline, Qantas does many things well. But since introducing priority boarding for domestic flights in 2011, Qantas has consistently failed to deliver this advertised benefit. This has been a frequent source of frustration for frequent flyers.
Qantas advertises priority boarding as a benefit for Business Class passengers, as well as Platinum One, Platinum and Gold frequent flyers. Qantas is also contractually required by the Oneworld alliance to offer the service to Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members.
One issue with Qantas’ current system is that the priority boarding queue is often longer than the general boarding queue – especially on routes with lots of business travellers like Melbourne-Sydney. But that’s not the real problem.
For priority boarding to work properly, you need to do two things. Firstly, you need to make sure that only those entitled to priority boarding are using the priority queue. Currently, Qantas rarely enforces this. This is in stark contrast to Virgin Australia, where priority boarding works extremely well – to the delight of Virgin’s frequent flyers.
The other thing you need to do is board those in the priority queue before boarding the general queue. This is common sense, yet Qantas also does not currently do this. Instead, it starts boarding both lines at the same time. The lines then merge in the aerobridge. This means that if the priority queue is particularly long, and you arrive from the lounge right when boarding commences, you could be one of the very last to board.
How Qantas plans to fix priority boarding
Qantas has promised that it will take steps to fix the current, broken priority boarding system by implementing changes from next Monday.
“In response to customer feedback, Qantas will introduce an enhanced premium boarding experience across our major domestic airports,” a Qantas spokesperson told Australian Frequent Flyer.
The new priority boarding system will be rolled out from next week at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra. Qantas intends to roll out the changes to all domestic airports in 2020.
“We’ve reviewed our current process and have taken these steps to ensure we’re delivering on the benefits promised to our most regular travellers and Business passengers, as well as eligible Qantas Frequent Flyer members.
“We will work with staff across the domestic network to ensure these benefits are enforced, and provide a consistent experience with our international boarding process,” the spokesperson said.
With these changes, it seems that Qantas ground staff will now be empowered to turn customers away from the priority boarding queue if they are not entitled to use it. There will also now be a dedicated boarding time for those in the priority boarding queue, and general boarding will not commence until everyone in the priority boarding queue has been processed. This is in line with the airline’s boarding process for international flights.
The changes to Qantas’ domestic priority boarding system would cost almost nothing and can be implemented quickly, so it’s a wonder that it’s taken Qantas so long to get around to it. Nonetheless, these changes will be welcome news for Qantas’ frequent flyers.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qantas doesn’t care about priority boarding