Whine Wednesdays: Apron Positions And Bus Boarding For Flights – Case: Hong Kong & Bangkok

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Another Whine Wednesday and today it’s something that we at LoyaltyLobby already wrote about on occasion, namely the practice of boarding flights through buses on apron positions.

WW Bus Boarding

Sometimes gates are really occupied and apron positions are the only way, but other times the airlines are simply too cheap and want to save money for gate positions.

My most recent experience with apron positions was during yesterday’s Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok where we had remote positions on both flights, even upon arrival in Bangkok which rarely happens.

With the ever growing traffic at Hong Kong airport, it becomes increasingly difficult for the airlines to get proper gate positions on even the two main terminals. As a result of that predicament they built yet another remote terminal and increasingly use bus gates for the boarding process. Even if you fly home carrier Cathay Pacific, you are not immune against that.

Bus boardings are especially annoying because of a few main issues:

  • The boarding takes much longer and bus boarding usually causes a delay
  • It is the worst thing to do if a flight is already delayed
  • Passengers have to drag their carry on baggage up the stairs
  • During bad weather passengers have to walk through or wait in the rain or scorching heat
  • Most often there is no priority boarding or at least no priority bus for Business Class customers

As bad luck has it, yesterday was once again a perfect mix of everything on the list above.

The flight was already delayed by 1:20h and after the bus boarding we incurred another 40 minute delay, effectively making our delay just as long as the flight time to Bangkok with a bit over 2 hours. Good job Cathay Pacific!

On top of it all, once arrived in Bangkok we also arrived at a remote position even though the airport was deserted (rarely any gates were occupied) with the rain blasting outside. It even rained inside the bus thanks to the strong winds outside.

Bus Rain

 

Passengers were totally annoyed and started to yell at the staff due to the inconvenience (I was able to keep quiet thanks to plenty of champagne in Hong Kong). Remote positions in Bangkok are very rare upon arrival but they happen.

Reason for this could be that Cathay parks this plane (the second last yesterday night) for the next morning and saves money for a) not having to pay for using the gate and b) towing the plane back out to the tarmac.

Yet one has to ask if there is really a need to annoy or better said p’ off your customers even more after a two hour delay with making them walk through the rain and ride in the bus!?

Conclusion

I hate hate hate bus boarding especially in Asia where a tropical climate is common. You have to deal with all these issues I outlined, and it adds yet another stress factor during traveling,

What annoys me most of all is when airlines don’t use apron positions out of necessity but because they are cheap and want to save money on the expense of passenger comfort. Customers pay full price for their ticket and that includes the comfort of a proper gate position.

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