Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: Time for final call on uncertainty

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Regular travellers know that when the information board says your flight is "boarding" it's not actually boarding. Photo / 123RF
Regular travellers know that when the information board says your flight is "boarding" it's not actually boarding. Photo / 123RF

Passengers are being treated like big babies at the airport.

Regular travellers know that when the information board says your flight is "boarding" it's not actually boarding. The airlines just want you to get down there to the gate and stand around like sheep for 15 minutes before they're actually ready to open the doors. This makes their job easier, but it's basically being dishonest and creates uncertainty in the minds of fliers.

When they say "final call", they generally mean the doors have just opened and boarding is just getting under way.

You want to know what the "final call" really is? It's when you hear your name on the airport's public address system. Now, I'm not advocating you should be so late that your name is called on the PA. But by being disingenuous with their language, the airlines put doubt and scepticism into the minds of regular fliers - many of us are unsure when the plane is actually boarding. More dangerously, many of us reckon we know. That's how flights get missed.

Worst of all there's no industry standard. I've turned up at some gates when the boarding message has gone out and it's been half an hour until the doors opened. Other times, it's been a mad scramble.

When I arrive too early at the gate, I resent the airline. Of all the places to stand around aimlessly at an airport, the gates are the worst. For many passengers who are paying for the privilege of using the airline's lounges, being summoned away unnecessarily from their glass of decent pinot noir 15 minutes early is a pain in the neck.

There should be a blanket industry policy of only declaring "boarding" from the moment the first passenger has their ticket scanned. Airlines should put video screens in the lounges displaying what's actually happening at the gate. That way passengers can see for themselves what's going on, and make grown-up decisions about when it's time to leave their glass of pinot.

- NZ Herald

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Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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