I generally love Alaska Airlines. Frequent flyer member. Use them almost exclusively for west coast flights. Etc.
But I’m starting to rethink that loyalty because the process of getting on an Alaska Airlines flight just keeps on getting harder and harder.
Take, for example, my flight home on Monday from Phoenix. Flight 637 (I think) from PHX to SEA. It was a full flight. Crowded gate area. People anxious to get on board and get to Seattle.
Every airline has a couple different boarding levels — those in wheelchairs, parents with babies, first-class, etc., always go first. That’s cool. Here’s my best shot at remembering the boarding levels for this Alaska Airlines flight:
- Passengers in wheelchairs are welcome to board.
- Parents with babies and small children, or those otherwise needing some extra time to get down the jetway.
- Uniformed US military members are welcome to board.
- Some high Alaska/Delta frequent flier club — like Platinum Million Milers or something. I don’t remember what it was called.
- Another high Alaska/Delta frequent flier club — Gold Medallion or something like that, maybe.
- Passengers sitting in First Class and in Row 6 (first row of the main cabin).
- Passengers whose only carry-on bags will fit under the seat in front of them. (WTF? Seriously, at this point, half of the people in the gate area started cursing, sighing, rolling their eyes or otherwise venting at the process. And I’m starting to wonder what’s next … “Passengers who have three-legged dogs are welcome to board”???)
- GENERAL BOARDING FINALLY BEGINS with passengers sitting in rows 20 and higher allowed to board.
- GENERAL BOARDING ENDS with the rest of the passengers allowed to board.
I’m pretty sure that’s close to the real step-by-step boarding process. I think there might even have been a THIRD Alaska/Delta frequent flier level in the middle, but I’m not sure. I know there were at least two.
It took forever and it was ridiculous.
I alerted Alaska’s Twitter account once I got on board, and they handled my bitching and moaning very well. I hope they take my suggestion to have one of their decision-makers watch the boarding process in action and think about whether it’s a great customer experience or not. (Hint: The answer is “not.”) And I hope it’s less ridiculous next time I fly Alaska.