British Airways will introduce a new boarding procedure that will see customers with the cheapest, hand luggage-only tickets board the plane last, according to an internal message first published by the Independent.
The message says that from December 12, passengers will be given a boarding group number based on a series of requirements that seems to favour those who pay more for their ticket. The lower the group number, the sooner passengers can board.
Gold members of BA’s Executive Club, first class passengers on long-haul flights and those in business class on short-haul services will be given the highest priority, followed by silver members, then bronze (as well as premium economy), then economy passengers with no special status and finally those travelling on the cheapest, hand baggage-only tickets.
However, passengers with mobility issues and those travelling with children will still be able to board ahead of everyone else, along with frequent flyers from Oneworld partner airlines.
According to the BBC, a BA spokeswoman said the boarding procedure was already in use among other airlines, including its partner carriers American Airlines, Iberia and Qatar.
The move is being heavily criticised on social media, with some travellers saying the system favours those with more money to spend and others worrying the process will leave less room in overhead bins for those travelling only with hand luggage.
But some are defending the new process, saying passengers who pay more deserve to be offered perks such as priority boarding and others commenting that it means travellers in group five get to spend less time on the plane before it departs the gate.