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I was intrigued by a Flyertalk thread that I saw the other day asking the question “Is boarding early with children rude?”
The original question was asked as
Several people have made comments to me while boarding that children should board last so they don’t get bored on the plane and misbehave. I thought nothing of – just rude people – until I saw the same thing on the internet.
We always board when our group is called, because my child loves airplanes and wants to board before boarding even begins, and so I can get everything put away and set up. Most of the time we’re the first people on the airplane.
So who’s correct? Is boarding when you’re [sic] group is called really rude when you have children?
Early boarding with children
Most airlines offer some sort of early boarding for families traveling with small children. Many airlines just have a blanket early boarding period at the beginning of the boarding process, and Southwest additionally offers family boarding for families traveling with children 6 and under between their A and B boarding groups
I was glad to see that the general consensus in the thread was that it is not rude to board with your group, nor is it rude to pre-board if your airline allows it and if you qualify.
Personally, when we have flown with all of our family, it has typically been on Southwest. As I mentioned, we were able to board between the A and B groups and that was early enough that we were able to get seats together (well, as together as you can get when there are 8 of you). When we fly with only a few of our kids, we board in our group and take our seats and have never had a problem.
Gripes against early boarding with children
I think some of the gripes that people have against early boarding with children come in 3 categories
1. People that abuse the system
This would be the people that come with 10 adults and 1 or 2 kids. Or the mom who requests early boarding because she’s traveling solo with 2 kids, and then you find out that her 2 kids are teenagers.
2. Overhead bin space
I think many people don’t care about actually getting ON the plane early, but instead are more concerned about having room in the overhead bins for their carry-on luggage. With more and more airlines charging for checked luggage, passengers are increasingly carrying their luggage on instead, and overhead bin space is becoming more and more scarce.
Personally, I don’t mind if our bags get gate-checked as long as they’re available on the jetway (rather than in baggage claim). There are rarely things in our larger carry-on bags that we need during the flight – we keep that information in our smaller personal items.
3. People that just like to complain
Of course then you also have people that just like to complain 😛
What do you think? Are you a family traveler? Do you preboard? Or have you had positive or negative experiences with families taking advantage of early boarding?