Extreme road warriors cluster around departure gates. One may be begging for an upgrade, others are making sure they board ahead of the next-lower class. A common topic of conversation is so-called status: a Diamond ascertains he's chatting with a Platinum.
Airlines know what they need to do to breed loyalty.
A boarding area is not egalitarian. Delta boards in the following sequence:
1. Those needing extra timeBoarding continues with increasing levels of cheapness and disloyalty to the airline.
2. Families with children under 2
3. Premium Zone (including First/business class)
4. Sky Priority
5. Zone 1
6. Zone 2
7. Zone 3
8. Zone 4
Zone 1 people are flummoxed: they're fifth in the sequence.
Once, a fellow contractor announced "first class boards first" before abandoning me and a decent glass of wine in a real glass in the airline club. He preferred to nurse a plastic cup, sitting in a tube, while "lower classes" shuffled past, unimpressed.
For the next two months I'm a road warrior, working for a paycheck, accepting occasional upgrades, claiming precious overhead bin space.