Saturday, 2 July 2016

Finnish Priority Boarding Woes

A couple of weeks ago, I flew from Gdansk (Poland) to Turku (Finland), because that's the glamourous life I have. 

As I waited to board, I was witness to a very Finnish situation, which had me sniggering under my breath.

The direct flight between the two cities (yes, I too was surprised that there was such a service) is operated by Polish low-cost airline WizzAir. As I was travelling on business, my ticket included the priority boarding option – giving me the “opportunity” to spend more time in the confined space of the aircraft than “ordinary” passengers.

As is the procedure, when the boarding call came, the holders of priority boarding cards were asked to step forward first. Each in turn, we had our boarding pass scanned, before stepping into a temporary holding lounge to wait for the signal to board the plane.

And that is where the “Finnish situation” arose.

Upon reaching the holding lounge, the priority boarders, who appeared to be mostly from Finland, stood in a neat line, with a suitably respectful, Finnish-sized personal space between people.  The trouble is that Finns do require quite a substantial personal space, so very soon, the line of half-a-dozen or so priority boarders stretched from one end of the holding lounge to the other. To the untrained eye, this would barely have looked like a line at all. That in itself was amusing enough for any observing Finnophile, but what happened next was even more comical.

Before long, it was time for hoi polloi (aka the “ordinary” passengers) to join us in the holding lounge. As the line was already stretching to the entrance of the lounge, the new arrivals started to move to the sides of the room, effectively ignoring the neat line.

This was obviously seen by the priority boarders as a potential threat to their privilege, and Finns do have a very strong respect for both fairness and rules. So within an instant, with much tutting and exaggerated movement, the priority boarders jettisoned their prized personal space, and closed ranks! The comic effect is difficult to convey in words, but it was a bit like watching an accordion being squeezed or a balloon being deflated.

The moral of the story is clearly: don’t mess with Finnish priority boarders!

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