Everyone has their own “thing” that stresses them out when it comes to air travel. For some, it’s packing – balancing the fine art of bringing all the things while keeping your luggage under the weight limit AND not forgetting something. For others, it’s the whole security checkpoint rigamarole. Some people can’t stand sitting for extended periods of time in a seat that’s 17″ wide and has 28 inches of pitch. And then there are some who freak out at the whole “waiting for your luggage and hoping they didn’t lose it” situation at the end of the flight.
Me? I have a different issue.
For the uninitiated, “gate lice” refers to dozens upon dozens of people hanging out as close as they can to the gate, waiting for their section to be called so they can RUN and be one of the first few of their section to board.
There are several potential reasons for gate lice infestations – it used to just be pure excitement about the trip but nowadays it’s probably more so because of the potential limited overhead space, so people want to ensure they don’t have to gate check their bags (like I had to do on Delta once, and they broke stuff in my bag). Plus, of course, there’s not enough seating at the gate, so people are just milling about anyway.
But whatever their reasons, there they all are, hanging out at the gate even if they’re in Boarding Group 9, or Basic Economy or whatever configuring the individual airline uses (here’s the list).
And meanwhile, I’m 4’6″ and if I’m standing because they’re going to call my boarding group next, all I see is a sea of boobs and shoulder blades.
Allowing everyone to hang out is simply not a good thing. The passengers block the walkways. They make it difficult for people using strollers or wheelchairs to get through. Even if the gate agent tells everyone to back off or make a path, it’s still ever-narrowing and I may or may not have run over some peoples’ toes with my carry-on bag on more than one occasion.
Why can’t airlines do something about this?
- Southwest has a nice, organized way to get everyone to line up and everyone knows in what order they’re going to board the plane.
- United had an awesome system that I wrote about a few years ago and it worked beautifully. We’ve made it a conscious decision to not fly on United anymore so I don’t know if they’ve continued with it or not. I hope they have.
But all the rest? I’ve been on Delta, American and Frontier in the past 6 months and all of them allow the same “cattle call” system of allowing people to hang out by the gate.
There HAS to be a better way and there HAS to be a way they can fix this. C’mon, airlines…rise up to the challenge!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary