Why Don’t More Narrowbody Planes Use Multiple Doors To Board?

Boarding is a messy process. Some airlines go for an incredibly systemized process with multiple “zones”, while other airlines break it up into fewer distinct categories. However, most airlines only use the forward door for boarding. What if airlines were to use two doors for boarding the aircraft? Simple Flying takes a look.

Ryanair CO2
Some airlines do use multiple doors for boarding some flights. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Boarding with multiple aircraft doors

The process of getting passengers on the aircraft, their luggage stowed, and safety checks completed is lengthy. However, there are several ways airlines are working to reduce the amount of time it takes to board an aircraft. Some airlines, like Lufthansa, have found great success with biometric boarding.

Qantas
Boarding can be a lengthy process. Source: Simple Flying

What if airlines used two aircraft doors for boarding?

The forward door is most commonly used for boarding. However, several airlines use the rear door as well for boarding and deplaning. Low-cost carriers tend to use both doors for boarding since it reduces the amount of time for turn arounds.

Easyjet boarding
EasyJet uses two doors to board on some flights. Photo: Jo Bailey – Simple Flying

However, boarding from two doors requires some extra planning on behalf of the airline. Security at airports is tight. To support boarding from two doors, airports will need to ensure that only ticketed and confirmed passengers are allowed on the aircraft. Not to mention, easy access from the aircraft to the terminal is not always guaranteed.

Easy access to the terminal is not always guaranteed. Photo: Chris Loh – Simple Flying

Why not use both sides of the aircraft?

Traditionally, aircraft board from the left. This is usually because, on the right-hand side of the aircraft, catering, waste, and the loading of inflight necessities are taking place. On the ground, baggage is also usually being loaded from the left side. On widebodies, however, it is more possible for such a system to be implemented. However, tradition sometimes overtakes progress and it appears that even in cases with widebodies boarding using stairs, that the right-hand side tends to win out.

Lufthansa A340 Aircraft Boarding Doors
Boarding a widebody from multiple doors could be a fun experience. Photo: Paul Lucas – Simple Flying

Then again, it also boils down to the fact that managing such a large number of passengers securely from the terminal to the aircraft is another hassle. But, there is another factor.

Jetways are so much better

Think about this. It is the dead of winter, you are traveling to visit family or friends. After bracing through the cold of public transport, taking a taxi, and walking into the terminal, you have a nice, hot cup of coffee and are waiting for your flight to be called. All of a sudden, it is time to board and you have the option to exit the building to get on the plane back into the cold with the wind blowing around you. On the other hand, you could board using the jetway.

Back in the cold boarding
Having to exit the terminal in the dead of winter to board the aircraft could be an unpleasant experience for some. Photo: Simple Flying

It also is easier for airlines to use the jetway. This makes for fewer opportunities for a passenger to fall, for a busy gate agent to have to run in and out of the aircraft in case of any kind of issue, and is easier for getting wheelchair passengers on board.

Overall

Although boarding from two doors could save a lot of time for both airlines and passengers, not all airports have the logistics to handle all these passengers with similar ease to that of a jetbridge. Furthermore, as winter approaches, the closed-off jetway can provide some much-needed protection from the whipping winds. And, even airports are enlisted in the fight to reduce boarding times.

Would you prefer if airlines boarded aircraft from multiple doors? Let us know in the comments!

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Henning

On a single aisle aircraft with 150-200 passengers there is no problem by boarding from one door. Think about the problems with people who has seats in the middle of the aircraft, some boards in the front and some does it from the back, and maybe they have to cross each other in the middle of the plane.

Richard Johnson

On Delta’s 757’s they open the middle door and makes it easier on the long narrow body the first class and economy comfort seats are to the left and the main cabin is to the right but getting off the plane can be difficult because all three groups meet at once at the middle door.

Here2go

I find that when flying Virgin Australia 737—800s when they use both doors, many passengers ignore the rule to board from the rear, or genuinely cannot access the stairs going down to the tarmac and up again, so go via the front and create a traffic jam around row 20, negating the benefits. The best process is board passengers by sections back to front, but enforce carry on can only be placed close to passenger. I have seen times where as a result of passengers not wanting to carry their stuff through the aircraft, they dump it at the front,… Read more »

Peter

Sorry if this sounds derogatory, but the issue (at least partially) depends on the type of people being boarded. – LCCs tend to carry a higher proportion of people who have never flown, or who only fly very infrequently. They tend to be out-of-touch, and behave like helpless cattle. They don’t have their boarding cards ready, they don’t know what seat they’re in, they don’t know where to find the seat numbers inside the aircraft, they know nothing about the layout of the aircraft, they block the aisle unnecessarily, etc. For that category of passenger, it works well to stuff… Read more »

Gnoelj

Behave like helpless cattle?…..well, if you provide CATTLE CLASS SERVICE and CATTLE CLASS CABINS, what sort of flyers would you expect to attract but …ahem….CATTLE? Seriously, I do not think it is fair for you to paint everything with just one brush. I have seen celebrities flying LCCs….just like i have a seen a shopper going to Lidl driving in a Bentley!!!!

Peter

Hence my use of the qualifying syntax “…TEND to carry a higher PROPORTION”…

Daniel Rubenson

I am always wondering why many airlines want to star tthe boading with first class and “gold card holders” (or similar). With these people standing in the aisle economy passengers are to embark and try to pass. Of course the economy passengers should embark to the rear part first while first class and “gold card holders” can finish their coffe in the nice terminal. How can it be that boaring first is considered “premium”? Real premium is to board as the last passenger with minimum waiting inside the plane!