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Delayed: Qantas Will Introduce Six Boarding Groups From June 2024

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Tom Goward | 15/04/2024

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In April of last year, Qantas trialled the use of boarding groups on a handful of domestic flights, with plans to introduce the approach Australia-wide from October 2023. That date has now come and gone, with Qantas delaying their streamlined boarding process by eight months, now due for a June 2024 rollout.

The new process will adopt numbered groups, as is widely used throughout other parts of the world including Europe and North America. That system hasn’t really caught on in Australia, with Qantas to become the first airline to use numbered groups down under. On average, Qantas claims their new boarding method will save between one and three minutes per flight, while also reducing congestion and recognising loyalty.

Qantas’ current approach to domestic boarding is regularly criticised, and as the airline continues to address pain points, is in desperate need of an overhaul. With just two groups, one priority and one general, the system is continually botched by gate agents. That’s particularly true for the priority line, which when offered, isn’t policed and is used in conjunction with general boarding, giving Qantas loyalists zero benefit for flying with Australia’s full-service carrier.

Qantas Boeing 737-800 at Hobart Airport (photo: Tom Goward)

Qantas’ New Domestic Boarding Explained

Instead of everyone having to queue up at once, passengers will be allocated a numbered group and notified when it’s their turn. That number will be found on your boarding pass.

To make the process as smooth as possible, passengers can receive SMS and Qantas app notifications once their group has been called forward, with digital signage showing which group is boarding. But perhaps the most exciting advance is the automatic blocking for groups not yet ready. If a passenger’s boarding group is yet to be opened, the boarding pass scanner will issue an alert and deny boarding. Hopefully, that’s properly managed.

The new group-based system will see domestic B737 and A330 jets divided into five zones, across six boarding groups;

  • Priority 1: Business passengers, Chairmans Lounge and Qantas Platinum or Oneworld Emerald members
  • Priority 2: Qantas Gold and Oneworld Sapphire members
  • Group 3: fourth quarter of economy cabin
  • Group 4: third quarter of economy cabin
  • Group 5: second quarter of economy cabin
  • Group 6: forward quarter of economy cabin

Qantas 737 Boarding Zones

When boarding via the forward door only, Qantas will follow those numbers in order;

  • Priority 1
  • Priority 2
  • Group 3
  • Group 4
  • Group 5
  • Group 6

Although when boarding via the forward and rear doors, Qantas will double-dip on economy groups;

  • Priority 1
  • Priority 2
  • Groups 4 & 5
  • Groups 3 & 6

Where Will Qantas Use Group Boarding?

Starting with domestic flights in Qantas’ four busiest cities, the new process will be implemented progressively at Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney throughout June 2024. To begin with, QantasLink flights won’t be included, with only domestic Qantas flights operated by the Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 getting special treatment.

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Tom Goward

Chief Operating Officer & Aviation Nerd at Flight Hacks

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