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Related to Who decides whether an airline docks at a jetbridge or parks at a remote stand?, but I'm not asking about remote stands.

I recently took an easyJet flight (A319/320) from London Gatwick (LGW) to Malaga (AGP), and once through the gate, we walked down some stairs adjacent to the jetbridge and out to the plane. We didn't use a bus.

But the airbridge was right there. Why not use it?

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  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the jet bridge wasn't operational? Was this a common theme with all the other gates, or just that one? $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 5 '18 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm. Good question. Unknown. This has happened sufficiently often (in my experience) with budget airlines that they can't all be inop jet bridges. $\endgroup$ – Roger Lipscombe Aug 5 '18 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ There may be additional fees for using the jet bridges at the airport as well, so they may only use them in bad weather. Hopefully somebody knows the answer but airports charge fees for everything, it may be a tactic to avoid a fee. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 5 '18 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ This answer to a similar question is real fun to read (especially the last paragraph) and proposes that fees are the definitive reason. $\endgroup$ – PerlDuck Aug 5 '18 at 17:57
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The answer to the question you link explain many of the reasons. But aside from them, all valid, the main point is that the use of jet bridges is charged an extra fee from the airport. Some airport charges for use, some charges for time, so a low cost company which is trying to save money is going to save on the jetbridge too.

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  • $\begingroup$ So there are fees for the bridge over and above the stand next to it? $\endgroup$ – Roger Lipscombe Aug 5 '18 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, their are both "ramp" and "gate" fees. The ramp fee is much less than the gate fee. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Aug 5 '18 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ Well, for example, I did a quick search and found the official fees for an Italian airport (Orio al Serio) and if I'm not mistake it has an additional fee only for the jet bridge. So bus transportation seems to be included in the basic fees, and if you want to use the jetbridge you pay on top of that. $\endgroup$ – motoDrizzt Aug 6 '18 at 8:37
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    $\begingroup$ @motoDrizzt that's because the bus is required if the airport chooses to put you on a remote stand, the jetbridge is an option if you don't want your passengers to have to use stairs. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Aug 6 '18 at 9:32
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It is not always about the extra fees.

Boarding and de-boarding via the jetbridge is a lot slower than using two stairs. You are using a single door instead of two, the people walk slower, there is a complex balance procedure to prevent the plane from tipping, etc, it just takes longer time. Many low-costs operators are sporting 30 or 25 mins turn-arrounds, so losing 5 or 10 extra minutes during boarding (and then having to pay extra for the priviledge) is not something budget airlines are keen on.

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  • $\begingroup$ Radu094 is absolutely correct. the time for boarding/deboarding is cut in half. $\endgroup$ – Anilv Aug 6 '18 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ Given the extra time for non-jetbridge passengers to walk to and from a plane, I'd like to see documents backing the claim that jetbridge embarkation/disembarkation is slower. $\endgroup$ – DJClayworth Aug 6 '18 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ I have no ideea what document you think exists, but jetbridge is slower. Remember that for stairs the pax are usually pre-loaded into buses, so you are comparing same walking distances ( for jetbridge people still have to walk to the plane, unless you have some magical jetbridge) $\endgroup$ – Radu094 Aug 6 '18 at 7:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Radu094 not always, on many airports the distance between the exit of the terminal and the aircraft stand you're boarding is very short and people just walk across the ramp. Sometimes the route is marked with tape or paint, often it's just a guy waving people in the right direction. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Aug 6 '18 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ well, I still stand by, that the difference is negligable as no airport will have a 10 minute walk-in through the apron to the airplane. Anyway, just to get technical :-p, the extra distance is just latency while the problem is throughoutput $\endgroup$ – Radu094 Aug 7 '18 at 0:32
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As Radu094 has already mentioned, minimizing the gate turnaround time is usually the number one goal for budget airlines. It is thus crucial to use both doors to board/deplane passengers, as that can obviously almost halve the necessary time. In my experience (about 100 flights in Europe a year, maybe half of that with EasyJet), this is the norm and boarding only via the front door happens very rarely.

I have never seen a budget airline use one of the posh dual-jetbridge gates to board an A320, so that inevitably sends some passengers to the tarmac. On some airports, the design of the gates makes it possible to use both the jetbridge and the stairs at the same time (the front half of the aircraft boards via the jetbridge, the other half is sent to take the stairs). If this is not possible for some reason, then the jetbridge simply won't be used.

In fact, at some airports (for example PRG), there's usually a gate agent standing at the junction of the stairs and the jetbridge, checking everyone's boarding passes and sending them the right way. Other airports rely on information screens or instructions on the boarding pass like "rows 1-15 via the front door, rows 16-30 via the rear door", but that's much less efficient as there are always some folks taking the front stairs even though they're seated in row 28, which .

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