Travel Blog

Meanderings of a Working Travel Agent

In the Zone

Do you do this?  The minute I get my boarding pass I check which zone I am in.  I hate being in zone 4 or 5 because that means you get on last and you know how hard it can be to find a place to stick your carry on.  Of course, if I wanted to be in zone 1 then I should just book first class or business, right?  Or if I wanted to be in zone 2 then I should have another baby and then I can board with “families with children under 3”.  

Um – no.  Not going to happen.

It seems every airline has a different procedure.  One thing that makes total sense is that for those who need assistance such as someone on crutches or in a wheelchair should be boarded first.  But come on.  How many people do you know do wheelchair assistance so they can get on first.  It happens.

If it wasn’t for the concern about overhead bin space then I wouldn’t really care about getting on early.  You end up sitting in your seat waiting for everyone else to board and if you happen to be in the aisle or middle seat you can be sure that you are going to have to get up again to let that window seat person in.  That can be a hassle as you then hold up the whole line up of people coming down the aisle.

I read that the zone procedure used by Air Canada was introduced in 2014 and this was in response to the long boarding times.  Maybe this was brought about by the introduction of checked baggage fees – hence more carry on and therefore the need to get that valuable overhead bin space.

Some airlines tried boarding window seats first, then the middles and then the aisle seats.  Others just open the doors and say “Have at ’em”.

Whichever zone you are in we all know that we stand around those boarding gates anxiously waiting for the announcement – just as if we were running the New York Marathon and anxious for the starter gun!


6 Responses

  1. Good blog
    I have heard that some airlines are offering a checked bag for free, but charging for carry-on. I like this idea because it puts the large carry-ons down below and creates smoother boarding. However, it does rely on an efficient baggage handling system.

    1. Brilliant idea. Now all they have to do is not lose the checked luggage and we are home and dry! 🙂

  2. Air Canada earlier this year gave priority boarding to people who agreed to gate check their carry on. I did it Vavlncouver and on the return flight and it worked ok for me. Having said that I always sit in the rear as the front compartments always seem to fill up with carry on before the rear rows do. Row 25 is my new “go to” row.

  3. I try to book the emergency row if I can. Yes, it’s a little more money but you get extra legroom and you get to board with Zone 2 regardless of your row #.

    They only time I don’t do this is when there are double emergency exit doors as your belongings under the seat are not handy.

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The Travel Lady Blog

The Travel Lady

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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