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
(SEE ALSO: Family boarding on Southwest Airlines – tips and tricks on how to get to sit with each other)
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.
(SEE ALSO: Keeping track of 17 pieces of luggage at the airport)
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?
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How can it be rude to board when the airline announces for children to broad? Sure, some people take advantage of the situation. That’s just bad karma for them. Relax. Try to enjoy your trip.
There is a time and a place for early boarding.
1)To make sure you can get a car seat installed properly before hoards of people start making their way on a plane. When my son was younger and had his own seat and sat in a car seat, you have no idea how difficult it is to install those suckers in such a small area, it takes a lot of time and maneuvering to it. So I need the whole row open to have my kid in one seat and allow me to put the seat belt around the car seat properly.
2) to make sure young children are seated next to a parent. On airlines like southwest that do group boarding, even if you are in group A you never know what kind of seats will be taken. Young children for obvious reasons need to sit right next to their parents and if you have a late boarding number you then with a child or even 2 children have to start negotiating with people in order to sit next to your kids. And let me tell you people do not like to just give up their seats so sometimes it takes awhile to find someone amenable to switching and the FA’s do not like to get involved with all that.
3)If you have a kid in a stroller you have to take that kid out and then collapse the stroller to gate check it, with all of your bags and a kid at the same time, and this takes some time to do, and often times they ask that you do it at early boarding, so that you dont take up all that room in the jet way to do so.
This is speaking from experience. Now that my child is 4 and no longer sits in a car seat and we usually fly Delta we have an assigned seat so its generally not an issue for me, so I dont always do the early boarding.
The reason people hate it is that the child sometimes becomes more restless and unruly from being on the plane longer. I think a solution would be to reserve them seats, but let them board last.
Not rude but….if you abuse it with older kids it is. Also Southwest “Festival Seating” is a little different. If the FA’s are doing their job they won’t let you pre-board and sit in an Exit row or save seats for other passengers.
Why would it be rude to board with your group number? I have priority boarding and will of course use it just like I make use of tsa precheck when traveling with my 20 month old twins
Not rude, as long as you are doing it for the indended purposes, as outlined well by Angel, above. BUT, if done as a way of getting overhead space (especially EXTRA space), then it’s beyond rude-it should be against the rules. Airlines should be more specific about exactly who is permitted to pre-board.
Southwest only allows one adult to board per eligible child so you should never have the 10 adult 2 child pre-board situation. On our last trip only myself and my husband could board with our 2 kids and grandma had to go in her own group. Also with southwest award tickets every person gets a separate confirmation # which makes it impossible for me to get the whole family into one boarding group since I have to check everyone in separately so family boarding really helps when I am in group B and my 3 year old is in group C. Our family also rarely takes up overhead space at all since we have the extra under seat storage.
That sounds more like the rules for “preboarding”, which is that 1 adult can go with someone disabled or elderly. My oldest daughter has autism and so we got a preboarding certificate for her, but when we found that only one of us could go back with her, we just decided to all wait and go during family boarding (Between the A and B groups). I’ve personally never seen anything like what you described for Southwest family boarding
Well, we have never pre boarded and always go after the A group and have seen this many times not just to us but other people and at multiple airports. Including 3 families on our trip to and from Orlando last week trying to board multiple adults with only one kid. Maybe it depends on airport staff but I am not an idiot confusing family board with pre board. I know the difference.
Sorry – I didn’t mean to imply you were “an idiot”!
Sounds like it is more of a YMMV situation depending on airport / gate agent
People should do what works for the kid. My wife and I talked about her boarding last to minimize out 1-Year-Old’s time in “confinement” before our last flight and may start doing it that way as a matter of practice, but if it makes it easier to board early, go for it.
I still think what would make EVERYBODY happy is a “family section”. That’s right, if you have kids you know where you’re going to be on the plane. If your kid screams and all the other kids scream you’re all together in one place and it’s not as stressful because you’re all there for the same reason – you all brought your little screaming terrors on the plane together.
“But what about the poor souls who get stuck in the “family section” who don’t have kids? If you got stuck in the family section, it’s probably because you bought the cheapest ticket at the last second and you’re just happy to be on the plane. You know what you got yourself into when you bought that seat. That’s a far cry from sitting next to a screaming child for 4 hours because through no fault of your own the “screamer roulette” ball landed in your aisle for a flight you paid good money for.
I say this as a parent who travels with my child. I think most parents would prefer a “family section” as much as the crabby Business travelers would prefer them to have it. Everybody would be more comfortable and better off. Yes??
@Jeff, that leads to a whole new topic which is MY pet peeve: babies and very young kids in F or biz. These must be the same selfish parents who take young children to fine restaurants. Have SOME consideration for others, parents.
Ha ha – you’re the reason I can’t get my wife to consider getting first class tickets for our family to go to Hawaii or Japan. She is highly concerned about others on the plane and is baffled airlines would even allow them in First Class/Business.
In theory I 100% agree with you. In practice I won’t say “my child would never make a fuss on a plane”, but he hasn’t yet and since upgraded seats is more about my physical well-being (lower back) than my personal comfort I would be willing to roll the dice based on his history so far.
That said, I also realize that’s what every parent says and 100% validate the frustrations of anybody who pays good money for a peaceful flight and sees a baby brought into that “safe zone”. Personally I think if the airlines want to allow that risk by all means, go for it. BUT – they should also be subject to handing out full refunds if their First Class passengers have to listen to wailing and other nonsense during the flight. In my mind that is failure to provide the service that was paid for.
Simple accountability and common sense would eliminate a lot of anger and frustration people have with travel. That’s what I think anyway…