JetBlue Schools Flyers on Boarding Etiquette

What’s your flight-boarding routine, hurry up or hang back? JetBlue’s new video encourages the latter, but its bag fees may spur the former.

“Your flight is now available for boarding.”

That gate-side announcement provokes a predictable response among restless would-be flyers: Dive headlong into the crush of passengers fighting for a place in the line to board, or risk being trampled by the hordes of travelers apparently in a great rush to squeeze into the airline’s too-tight seats.

There is a third option, however. Remain seated, and do nothing.

In Episode 5 of its “Flight Etiquette” series on YouTube, JetBlue spends 1:39 minutes making just that point, reassuring customers that the plane won’t leave without them, and reiterating the airline’s boarding policy. “You can help expedite the boarding process by keeping the entryway clear until your row is called.”

This being JetBlue, the lesson is delivered with wit and humor.

And a stunning lack of irony. Which itself is ironic because less than a month ago, the airline gave its passengers more reason than ever to board early. By imposing fees for checked bags, JetBlue gave flyers added incentive to carry their bags onboard, to be stowed in the already-stuffed overhead bins. As one commenter points out, “Perhaps if you didn’t charge for bags, people wouldn’t be so anxious to get on board to secure overhead space.”

So yes, for those with carry-on bags, there is a compelling reason to get onboard sooner rather than later, lest the precious storage space be filled to overflowing before they’ve stowed their rollaboards.

But for everyone else, there’s just no payoff for being first to board. Being first to deplane, on the other hand, is a different story. Maybe that will be the subject of JetBlue’s next “Flight Etiquette” episode.

Reader Reality Check

What’s your boarding routine, hurry up or hang back?

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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