FRANKFURT / MAIN – Passengers of the Lufthansa Group have to adjust to a new procedure when boarding a plane. This should make boarding faster. Not affected are the airports of Zurich and Geneva.
Boarding in Zurich and Geneva as before
The Group intends to introduce the new concept on Thursday on European flights operated by its network companies Lufthansa and Austrian over the winter. This applies initially to about 20 European destinations. There, Swiss customers will also need to board for the window-center-gear principle, as a spokesperson told AWP on request.
Switzerland, on the other hand, is not affected: at Zurich and Geneva airports, the principle will not be introduced for the time being, said the Swiss spokesman
In Zurich and Geneva it remains with the previous, proven boarding principle, it was said. This means that families of babies and toddlers, children traveling alone, as well as travelers with limited mobility first have their turn. This is followed by privileged regular customers – such as senators or Star Alliance Gold cardholders – as well as business class travelers and, lastly, all economy passengers.
The reason for the sideline: In Zurich and Geneva have already been introduced measures to optimize the boarding process successfully, the spokesman said. These are not readily compatible with novel processes.
Two minutes savings with Wilma
Lufthansa expects "Wilma" a valuable time savings when boarding. "Two minutes does not sound like much, but it's already around ten percent of the boarding process," says Vicky Scherber, who has been working on the new system for a good year.
On the boarding pass, which is already complex for low-flyers, the Lufthansa companies will enter a further category besides departure gate and seat number, namely the boarding groups 1 to 5. The first two groups are the same as in the current system – which is still valid at Swiss , The economy passengers are split up: Group 3 means Economy passengers with window seats, Group 4 means the middle and finally the 5 for people sitting in the corridor.
Skepticism among air travelers
In Internet forums experienced air travelers show little optimistic that the new boarding process will change much positive. The reason for the traffic jams in the corridor, they see in the tight space in the luggage shells above the seats, the "Bins". Since the airlines require additional fees for each checked baggage item, the space on a full-fledged medium-haul flight is sufficient only for the utilities of a good half of the approximately 200 passengers.
Another problem: many passengers are at the beginning of the boarding yet not at the gate, but rushing as a changeover on the last push of the plane. Even with the best precission, it is therefore impossible to prevent even passengers at the very end of the process from entering the cabin with window seats.
"Of course, we will also tackle hand luggage in the course of the changeover," asserted Scherber. There are now significantly more controls and also increased calls to hand over the bags and trolleys but shortly before departure voluntarily and free of charge. But in the end many people like to keep their things with them, even to save time at the destination airport. With the new boarding process, this bill is less likely for people who like sitting in the corridor.
Swiss said that with the introduction of the 2015 tariff concept, numerous measures had already been taken to better control the amount of hand luggage before arriving at the gate. In the course of this, the hand luggage inspections had been intensified. As part of a Group-wide initiative, Swiss has recently clarified the connection between baggage regulations and punctual flight even more clearly.
(sda / awp / dpa)