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Skies Are Friendly, But Getting There Not So Much

Flying used to be fun. With Thanksgiving next week (is it really?) and many flying to their turkey destinations, some still struggle with a fear of flying. But it has less to do with turbulence and more to do with boarding.

Boarding a plane is akin to boarding a crosstown bus in Manhattan. Everyone crowds to get on. Except on a plane you’ve got a seat with your name on it. Do people think they’ll arrive at their destinations sooner if they get on first? Or are they concerned there won’t be enough room for their carry on? The moment airline attendants welcome those traveling with little kids, the elderly or more legroom customers, everybody swarms the gate, which causes a logjam since people can’t get through. This is why I’m not surprised people shove stuff into their closets. It’s how they live.

Tuesday I flew back from West Palm Beach. We had a weather delay and were told to stay close as the weather could change. It did. At 10:40 it was announced we could board, but had to be “wheels up by 11:14, so could everyone please get ready.” So what did my fellow passengers do? 


“Ladies and gentlemen,” the airline attendant said through clenched teeth. “Please make room as every minute counts.”

“She did say get ready,” sneered a guy in the blockage. This being a plane full of New Yorkers, someone responded.

“Yeah, but she didn’t say block the gate.”

Airlines used to have an organized boarding system seating from back to front, but these days it’s all about making money disguised as customer service with their loyalty programs that offer early boarding, which results in more delays as we wait for middle seat passengers to get settled. If airlines want to improve their “on time” records, they should return to their original boarding process. They could even take it a step further and arrange seating at the gate for back rows, middle, and front. Delays should be because of weather or missing airplane parts, not from folks clumping.

The flight, though a little bumpy, got us to LaGuardia a little late. Sure enough, once we taxied to the gate, folks jumped up and once again clogged the aisle, figuring they would get off the plane faster. As for me, I just shook my head and waited to deplane, thankful for at least one thing: the free snacks.

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