Friday, March 18, 2016

Zone War Tactics

If you have ever flown Delta Airlines you've no doubt experienced the boarding zone fustercluck. 

Take a crowd of individuals, who collectively average a marginal level of intelligence, and instruct them to stand in line for a flight that boards and departs at predetermined times. Then sit back and watch them descend into chaos and confusion.

It's so entertaining I would actually pay money to watch it. I DO actually pay money to watch it.

50+ flights in over the last 2 years helped me embrace the boarding process and hone my boarding skills with three Zone War Tactics, proven to make boarding more efficient... and more entertaining.

1. Know the Zones

Delta has a total of five, count 'em five, zones, six if you count any passengers with special needs or children. 

Boarding zones don't enhance the boarding process, they only serve to complicate it, partly because not all zones are called zones. If your boarding pass shows Zone 1 you are actually in Zone 3, which makes Zone 3 really Zone 5. 

Zone 1 passengers are confused when they realize they stood in line all that time for no reason. They still have to wait for Pre-Boarding, First Class and Sky Priority to board. After they recover from the offense of being rerouted to the General Boarding line they are slowed down by all the Zone 2 and 3 passengers hoping to squeeze by on the good graces of the gate agent. I'm rarely turned away when attempting jump zones, which I attribute to my dashing good looks.

But then there is even more waiting in the jetway, and then again on the plane. Passenger behavior under such stress proves that one thing remains true, whether there are 3 or 5 boarding zones there are really only 2 classes of passenger, First Class, and No Class.

2. Strike First

When you arrive at your gate the most desirable seats will likely be occupied. But this problem can be quickly solved by creating a diversion. Don't wait for the gate agent to call the boarding zones, just get in line right when you get to the gate, even if the boarding process isn't set to begin for some time. Someone has to start the line, why shouldn't it be you? 

By taking initiative other passengers will naturally follow you because in their mind you clearly know what you're doing. Also, they're paranoid of missing out on a coveted overhead compartment so use this to your advantage.

The result will be a line that forms behind you making more seats available in reach of a much needed charging station. I recommend using a strategic approach when deploying this tactic by starting the line in a place other than the correct line location. This way if you choose to get back in line you won't have to go to the back, you simply start the line again, in the correct location. I have used this tactic on a handful of occasions. It does work so don't give up if at first you don't succeed.

3. Board Last

With many passengers taking the bait from #2, and if you're savvy and traveling with a bag that fits under the seat, you have no reason to rush the boarding process. Your seat should already be assigned so you have nothing to fight for.

Avoid the boarding line, jetway line, plane isle line, and sweating in your seat until the forward door closes. Calmly wait till the gate agent has ushered other passengers aboard and make your way on. Have a seat and takeoff to smooth, under blue skies.

I have on one occasion had a gate agent look up to find me standing near the counter and ask with a puzzled look, "Are you going to get on the plane?" I took that as my cue to get on or miss the flight.

Don't forget that most boarding protocol is designed to usher a mass amount of people into confined spaces in an orderly manner. It's the frightening loss of logical thinking on the part of passengers that makes boarding a nightmare. Most airline procedures are flexible if you are polite and strategic in your approach to getting what you want.

I'd love to hear if these tactics prove true for any of you... and any tips on how to get free Bourbon in flight.

- David West

Want to be featured? Contact Elevation Expeditions at |
Also find me on: YouTube | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Flickr | Pinterest

Copyright © Elevation Expeditions. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment