Saturday Night Live’s Airline Boarding Process Spoof – Spot On

Oct 1, 2013

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I don’t catch Saturday Night Live that often since I’m on the road a lot, though I was excited to see Tina Fey hosting it this week. However, I did want to catch a particular clip this week that got the points and miles world abuzz because Tina and cast member Taran Killam played airline gate agents boarding a flight from Chicago to Dallas and spoofing an airline boarding process that has gotten ridiculously out of hand with everyone and their mother trying to find an angle to board the plane early so they can fit one of their half-dozen carry-ons in the overhead bins it seems like.

How often does trying to board a plane feel like this?
How often does trying to board a plane feel like this?

I found it to be especially timely because I’d had such an interesting experience that very morning boarding an American Airlines flight from LaGuardia to Miami and for once the gate agent was strict about the rules and actually turned people away at the gate before their boarding group. I was so impressed that I live tweeted the whole thing:

Digging the @AmericanAir LGA gate agent enforcing boarding rules today. First class only boarding does not = “anyone who feels like it”

Screen shot 2013-10-01 at 8.29.31 AM

Though there was still a guy who managed to get past her with four – yes four – carry on bags that he then proceeded to create a bottleneck with.

Dear man who brought 4 carry ons and can’t even fit one in the bin – you are annoying #crankysaturday #moveoutoftheaisle

Screen shot 2013-10-01 at 8.30.49 AM

Still, the process was smooth overall and I tweeted my appreciation to @AmericanAir and got the following response:

We’re glad our gate agent was keeping things in order for you this morning!

Screen shot 2013-10-01 at 8.32.59 AM

That’s why I thought it was hilarious when I saw the clip from SNL, which you can watch here:

The reason it’s so funny is that we’ve all experienced this! Part of what I love about elite status is the ability to pre-board, but lately that seems to be less and less of a benefit as everyone is separated into micro-groups for everything from traditional pre-boarders like the handicapped and families with small children as well as uniformed military, to people with airline elite status, co-branded credit cards, and then helter skelter boarding groups predicated on I’m not sure what – row numbers, window seats, exit rows? Whatever the true breakdown, here’s how SNL subdivided it:

-Elderly passengers and those needing special assistance
-Parents traveling with small children and children traveling with small parents
-Oneworld alliance members and Diamond Advantage (what’s that!?) partners
-Frequent Fly Girls
-Air Buds
-First Class
-X-Men First Class and X-Men Business Class
-Foreign passengers who have not yet been called to ignore us and try to board anyway – all Brazilian and Italian passengers to begin pushing and shoving and selectively understanding English
-Travelers with carry ons that have no chance of fitting in the overhead compartment (the guy on my plane looked like this!)

carry on
-Business travelers with laptops who want to begin working on graphs
-People who clap when the plane has landed – denied boarding!

All in all, I thought it was hilarious because it really captures the chaos of boarding these days – especially if you don’t have elite status or any other sort of priority that helps you get on the plane in the first few groups. All the more reason that elite status matters, as does having a co-branded credit card that offers you priority boarding as a benefit!

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