Whilst Ryanair should lift its game on its on certain elements of its on board meal service, the time saving boarding procedure needs no further changes.

This process seems honed to perfection and it is something of a modern miracle to witness. It is also consistently applied across all airports from what I’ve witnessed. So, how does it work?

Arriving At The Gate

Boarding passes list a Gate Closes time 30 minutes before the flight departure time. This helps speed things up however most Ryanair passengers are aware of the need to get to the gate early. Why? The queues.

There are two lanes, one for passengers who purchased priority boarding and the other one. If you get into the other queue quickly, you will be guaranteed a spot for your carry on bag. It is literally called “Other Q” on the signage by the way!

People have learned this because the Ryanair gate staff announce that the first 90 carry on bags will be allowed on board and the rest will be checked into the hold for free.

Volunteers are taken at this point, which is prior to boarding beginning. While someone takes any bags, another gate staff member checks the priority queue to ensure everyone has priority boarding. Very nice indeed!

Saving Time All The Time

At this point it is usually close enough to departure time and either there is no aircraft on stand or the inbound is currently disgorging passengers. Once the arriving passengers begin to deplane, the next phase begins – boarding is announced.

But wait, how can you possibly start boarding when people are still leaving the aircraft? By taking advantage of the layout of the airport infrastructure, that’s how.

In Dublin, your boarding pass is scanned, then you go down about four flights of stairs to wait at another door at the ground level. Everyone boards into this stairwell and waits for five to ten minutes until it’s time to get on the aircraft.

At London Luton, you pass the boarding pass scanners into a large square holding pen, waiting for the doors to open. Even here the priority passengers are segregated into a lane by the wall while everyone else mills around or sits in the room.

Final Steps

Soon enough the door opens and you’re permitted to go outside. You approach your Boeing 737 and have a choice to make. Front stairs or rear stairs?

Helpfully, boarding passes tell you which door to use so there is no confusion. Everyone is on board very quickly and then it is time to go – another successfully fast boarding experience complete.

Overall Thoughts

It is amazing how fast Ryanair can board a flight using this time saving method. It does mean some waiting around for the passengers but it also means on time performance is very good. When it comes to flight delays, it can also quickly clear some of the delay.

I imagine other low cost carriers also operate a process somewhat similar, but since I never fly on any of them, I can’t really compare. The closest I came was easyJet on two flights many moons ago and I don’t really remember much except speedy boarding was separated from the others.

If you have any information on other airlines around the world, I’d love to hear it in the comments below. Thank you for reading!

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Images via Ryanair.