I often say that you do not want to board first. You want to board ‘not last’ so that the plane hasn’t run out of overhead bin space by the time you get on. Boarding early is about one thing only: not having to gate check your carry on bag.
That’s why I absolutely love a quick overnight, and on a two night trip sometimes stretch myself to travel with just my laptop bag, so that I don’t need overhead bin space. I can show up at the airpprt later. I can work productively in the lounge. And I don’t have to rush boarding. As someone that values every 5 minutes in my day (I really do keep myself that busy), this matters to me.
Commenter Puzzled asks,
I never understood why [first class] always boards first. You sit there for 30 minutes watching the peons shuffle into steerage, glaring at you as they pass by. (Except of course if you are on fleet type with dual entrances, in which case you are shielded from this indignity.)
If the [first class] folks are the super-busy important people they all claim to be then why would they not board last? After all, arriving early does not get you to your destination any sooner. Can someone explain the reasoning behind this?
Puzzled is right – first class shouldn’t want to board first. The problem is access to overhead bin space. When you’re at the front of the plane it’s not enough for there to still be some on the plane. You don’t want the bin space to be in the back of the plane, where you’ll have to either fight your way to the back when you land (and wait to get off) or wait for everyone else to deplane in order to get your bags.
There may not be enough bin space for all first class passengers. If you board first you can at least put your stuff in the front rows of coach. And even if there’s enough space up front, there’s a good chance that ccoach passengers will take it as they walk back through the aircraft on the way to their seats.
Delta puts signs in their first class overhead bins that say they’re for first class passengers only. It’s not a perfect solution, but it helps.
In the meantime I board first for the overhead bin space, open my laptop and work throughout boarding.
Now it’s not all about overhead bin space. Another reason to board first is to avoid standing in a clogged jetway. But boarding last accomplishes this too.