5. Block boarding/Boarding from the rear
Is it stupid: Yes
Who uses it: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, Spirit Airlines…
Is the most commonly used method also the worst? Yes. You are not surprised. A ton of the major US carriers board their priority passengers (card members, first class, etc.) first and then their plebeian passengers by groups, or “blocks,” starting from the back of the plane and working their way forward. This takes forfuckingever; passengers are often stuck waiting for the person in front of them to hoist their luggage and find their seat, and end up sitting down basically one at a time. This method can routinely take up to 40 minutes, although in a controlled trial (Mythbusters) this method put 171 passengers onto an Airbus A321 in 24 minutes.
Is it stupid: Kinda
Who uses it: United Airlines
WilMA stands for “Window, Middle, Aisle,” except not really because there’s a lowercase L still in there that I’ve not heard satisfactorily explained. Nonetheless, this is the mixed-reviews method of choice for United and it boards passengers from the outside in -- window seats, then the middles, then the aisles. That Mythbusters experiment clocked it in around 15 minutes
(same plane, same number of passengers). America at times has not cared for it. Either way, “elite flyers” still board first.
Is it stupid: Grading on the curve we’ve got, no
Who uses it: Southwest Airlines
This is exactly what it sounds like. No assigned seats. No boarding zones that correspond to assigned seats. Chaos. Anarchy. Basically, you’re in Zone A, Zone B, or Zone C, and when it comes time for your zone to board you just board. How does one get in Zone A? Paying extra. Yes. You are not surprised. The whole fun and civil process is sometimes affectionately called the “cattle crush,” and it is much faster than block boarding. Our primary method is literally less effective than no method at all.