I’m writing this from Barcelona airport, waiting for my flight to Doha, as I return to Bangalore today. A pre boarding announcement was made some minutes back but boarding is yet to commence, and this is what the airport looks like now.
As you can see it’s a fairly long line. And boarding hasn’t even begun. I used to believe that this phenomenon of queueing up for boarding is a uniquely Indian phenomenon, but over two trips to Europe over the last months I’ve disabused myself of this notion.
In the last six months I’ve taken seven flights within Europe and for each of them there has been a long boarding queue, mostly before boarding has begun. In a couple of cases I’ve participated, and for good reason. On one occasion I chose not to participate and regretted it. But there have been occasions when I’ve chosen not to participate and haven’t regretted. I have no plans to participate in the queueing today. For an international flight it’s not rational. Let me explain.
Within Europe most low cost carriers charge for any checked in baggage. As a consequence, people carry on large pieces of luggage. As a consequence of this, there is severe shortage of luggage rack space within the flight and so if you don’t board early there’s a good chance that your baggage will have be carried in the hold, resulting in unnecessary delays after landing.
Thus, pricing of low cost carriers where they anally charge for luggage results in suboptimal boarding process, and significant discomfort.
In any case, Europeans are thus used to queueing up for boarding, for that can guarantee them a relatively smooth flight experience. And my theory is that this carries on to international too.
But why is this irrational for international flights? Because most international flights (Qatar for sure) have reasonably generous check in baggage limits, because of which people don’t carry on massive pieces of luggage. The per capita availability of rack space, from my unscientific observations, also seems higher in wide body flights. Hence it matters less whether you board first or last.
Finally the queue didn’t matter today since Qatar decided to use the rather idiotic zone wise boarding system on the flight today. I’ve boarded. And had to place my bag one seat away. Not that I mind.
See you from the dark side