The boarding process today on all commercial airliners is completely irrational. Consider the following: in return for purchasing a first or business class ticket or being a premier rewards card holder, a customer is granted the privilege of boarding.... first? This makes little sense to me.
If an air traveler is about to give up all control of his or her well-being and board an overcrowded flying tuna can, with parts constructed by the lowest bidder, piloted by a complete stranger, with germ-tainted re-circulated air, with 1/4 inch of aluminum separating them from sudden death at over 35,000 feet, they should have no interest whatsoever in wanting to board first. Wouldn’t they want to board last? Why spend any more time on that plane than need be ?
I’ve discussed my argument with some peers. The most common pushback I get has to do with baggage. Most airlines charge for checked bags. As a result, any bag that can fit in the overhead spaces is placed there, to avoid paying a fee and having to wait to claim your luggage at one’s final destination. Boarding first guarantees you will find space for your luggage. I understand and appreciate this argument, but it doesn’t suffice, especially given how airlines price their seats today. Most basic economy tickets are situated in the rear of the aircraft. Most people place their luggage at or near the row they are assigned. Furthermore, in the business class section of a plane, only those passengers who purchased business class seats can use the overhead bins in that section. Bottom line: people who purchase premium tickets or hold a rewards card should be called to board last, not first.
Another thing that puzzles me about commercial aviation is the following: before any commercial jetliner takes off, a flight attendant is legally bound to ask each passenger sitting in an exit row if 1) they understand that they are in fact sitting in an exit row; and 2) that more importantly, in the event of an emergency, they are willing to assist other passengers in evacuating the aircraft. Of course, each person in the exit row says “yes” and indicates they understand that they are sitting in an exit row and “yes” they are willing to help in the event of an emergency.
Of course they say “yes” because saying “no” would disqualify them from an extra inch or two of legroom between them and the seat in front of them. So, let me get this straight -- in the extremely unfortunate situation that a plane is forced to make a crash landing in the middle of some field or in open water, three strangers in the exit row of a disabled, burning, or sinking plane are going to wait, stand up, and calmly assist everybody else off the plane before deplaning themselves? Are these passengers going to risk their own lives for the poor gent sitting in row 46F to make his way to the exit row and deplane safely while the plane implodes? Not a chance. The moment they have an opportunity to escape, you can bet they will. And so would you. Bottom line: flight attendants asking passengers sitting in an exit row if they are they willing to assist others in evacuating the aircraft is one of the biggest waste of time / CYA exercises I’ve ever been privy too. In the event of an emergency, almost nobody sitting in an exit row is going to wait for and assist any fellow passengers to exit before they do. Except you, of course.