Airlines Need to Explain Airplane Boarding Zones

Having just returned from a quick trip to Tampa to visit my best friends, I was reminded of how strange airplane boarding zones the airlines use can be.

When you’re waiting to get on the plane for a trip, gate agents will call passengers onto the plane with the use of airplane boarding zones.

Those flying in first class get to board first, along with current military service members, veterans, families traveling with young children and strollers or car seats; and those who may need a little extra time to get situated because of physical limitations.

That part makes sense.

The next people to get on the plane (or as George Carlin preferred it, in the plane), are those who have some airline priority boarding. (My preferred airline, Delta, calls is “Sky Boarding.”) Most of those seats tend to be a bit larger and more comfortable and are situated right behind first class.

That part also makes sense.

What happens next is where the problem begins. Some planes, depending on their size, have up to four other zones. For the most part, Zone 1 fills in right behind the “comfort” seating, and zones 2, 3 and 4 are progressively further back.

For the most part.

But airplane boarding zones don’t always work that way.

But sometimes, people in Zone 3 are seated in places further to the front of the plane than people in Zone 2. 

I almost always book a window seat. If I’m in Zone 3, I’m potentially going to have to make people who are in Zone 2 and are in my same row get up and move so I can get to that window seat.

When you’re trying to get seated on a plane, with a line of increasingly impatient people behind you, these extra delays only make things worse.

It would make a lot more sense to me if Zone 2 filled in all the window seats on either side of the plane. Zone 3, then, should take the middle seats. Zone 4 should then take the aisle seats.

That means, of course, that those Zone 4 people would be the first to be able to get up and off the plane from each row, but still, it’d make more sense than having people scramble to their seats only to have to then get up so others could get to theirs.

It’s entirely possible that would make far too much sense. But with seats getting narrower and space between rows getting even tighter, it has the potential to make the boarding experience a little less frustrating.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.