I’ve heard American Airlines CEO Doug Parker say that the most important thing, and almost the only thing, that matters for an airline is to run a safe on-time operation.
US Airways has a tendency to start boarding early, and over the past six weeks or so I’ve noticed that American has started to do the same thing. I’ll show up at the gate 30 minutes out and they will already have started the boarding process.
My flight this morning boarded a few minutes early. Boarding was complete more than 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure. And we pushed back early.
That’s awesome, right?
Not really, at least to me.
I want an airline to run on its schedule, to do what it says it is going to do, to be predictable — not to try to arrive on time by deviating from its plan.
When I flight Etihad I’m used to boarding passes showing boarding times an hour before flight. I loved deprating Chennai, India last year when my boarding pass showed a time prior to the aircraft’s scheduled arrival at the airport.
- Etihad tries to trick passengers with super early boarding times, to get them to show up at the gate. (It doesn’t really help for US-bound flights, where immigration pre-clearance and re-screening procedures inevitably lead to flight delays.)
- Throughout Asia departure screens show flights much closer to departure than they really are. I regularly see “LAST CALL” appear before a flight has started to board.
These are psychological tricks.
US Airways is getting ready to go before they say they will, which is almost the opposite. And my recent experience with American is that they seem to be trying to do the same. I guess that’s reverse reverse psychology.
I base when I’m leaving the club on when the flight doors will close, and whether I need overhead bin space or not. If I can’t show up at the assigned boarding time and actually secure overhead space near my seat, what good is an assigned boarding time?
I love on-time departures, and I love on-time arrivals even more. But publish accurate boarding times and stick to those.
Have you experienced American boarding before the posted time recently?
Do you like it — is helps with on time departure? Or do you hate the idea, you plan around the posted schedule and they should stick to it?
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