Is Qantas’ New “Premium Boarding” Working?

Is Qantas' New Premium Boarding Working?Last week, Qantas promised to fix its broken priority boarding system by implementing an “enhanced premium boarding experience” for domestic flights. The new priority boarding process has now been in place at six major Australian domestic airports for a week. But has the implementation been successful?

As part of the new premium boarding process, Qantas staff have been instructed to board everyone in the priority queue before general boarding commences. Qantas staff are also supposed to ensure that only those eligible for the service use the priority boarding lane, and to turn away passengers that don’t have Gold, Platinum or Platinum One status or a Business class ticket.

Since last Monday, many AFF members have reported their experiences with the new Qantas premium boarding system on our forum. Around half of these people said that the new system was working well for their flight.

So far, it seems Melbourne Airport is providing the most consistent premium boarding experience across the Qantas domestic network.

Here’s what jakeseven7 had to say:

Reporting live from Melbourne airport where I got here early to observe premium boarding in action.

Very exciting – all 3 flights I have watched boarded seamlessly.

1. Premium boarding called
2. Premium pax boarded on both scanners from premium lane only. A couple of people tried it on and sent back to huge economy lines. Won’t try that again!
3. Once premium line exhausted general boarding called and both scanners then processed general.
4. Laggard premium pax arriving at an empty premium queue then processed as they arrived

I actually got asked if I was QF management as senior QF ops are patrolling Melbourne gates getting feedback and making sure everything is working. Had a good chat to one and said on behalf of AFF we are super pleased this has finally been addressed. They said if this model works will be rolled out to other ports.

But there is still plenty of room for improvement. Several AFF members have reported that, while the priority queue for their flight was processed first, staff were not actively turning away passengers that were not entitled to priority boarding.

I was on QF691 yesterday MEL ADL. They definitely boarded the premium line first and the well dressed lady at the queue of the other line did not look happy. The couple behind me had bronze on their BP but didn’t get stopped.

Around a quarter of the posts in our dedicated thread say that priority boarding still did not work at all for their flight.

Today qf 1517 Sydney -Canberra had two very distinct lines, one for priority and one for silver, bronze etc. Then they were totally ignored and the priority lane was much slower. Seemed even worse than usual!

It seems there has been a little bit of backlash from customers that were not entitled to priority boarding. This is to be expected, at least initially.

Ex SYD tonight PB was being enforced by a supervisor who walked the priority queue inspecting BPs.

I asked if they were getting much grief about “the great priority boarding crackdown of 2019 (TM)”. “Heaps” he said.

It’s good to see that Qantas is finally starting to deliver on its advertised benefit of priority boarding – something it has consistently failed to do for domestic flights for the past 8 years. The new system is still a bit of a work in progress, but hopefully in time it will become more seamless and be rolled out to all Australian airports by next year.

Let’s hope that Qantas quickly identifies where the new system is still not working and works to address the issues, rather than giving up and putting priority boarding back into the “too hard basket”.

You can share your enhanced Qantas premium boarding experience on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum:  Qantas doesn’t care about priority boarding


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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]