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A History of the Boarding Bridge

Surprisingly thorough history of the jetbridge, the origins of which date back to 1931... ( More...

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Stefan Sobol 3
A fair number of the bigger airports in the world use stairs to board planes. "Boarding" the plane from the gate involves getting on a bus and going for a drive. In some places the drive can be fairly long. I've done it many times in FRA, LHR, AMS, PEK. In LGB and FLL I've walked out to the plane to board and deplane from the aft stairs.
WhiteKnight77 1
I seem to recall boarding a plane at Schiphol by walking up airstairs out on the ramp after taking a bus out to it on my return to the States after a job in The Netherlands. It happens.
Larry Toler 2
Anyone remember the temporary G gates at IAD around 2005 to 2006 ish. That's where a lot of the RJ's and Turboprops would park. We'd have to take a bus from C terminal to those gates. It was all outside boarding.
ADXbear 3
Kbùr.. Burbank is still the old way.. no bridges. Idk of any others still active
I used to like the whole walking across the tarmac, and climbing the stairs. It adds to the 'romance' to the experience.

I flew to Jamaica, and upon landing, we had to climb down the stairs. The bitching of people having to go down the stairs! It was good, I'm glad it wasn't raining for sure, but it was fantastic! Leaving we herded onto the jet bridge, waiting for the sudden denial of entry to end. At least climbing the stairs, there would be more 'scenery'.
WhiteKnight77 2
Cool article and how they came about and the different methods and types used. I seem to recall not having such when flying on MAC charter flights that were at military bases such as Travis AFB. Kadena still has no jetway even now.
Larry Toler 2
RAF Mildenhall has had one at their pax terminal since the '70's, I think. I had to qualify on it while stationed there with the then 313th Aerial Port Squadron. The old Rhein-Main terminal had two jet ways when that was still open. FRF has been closed for quite some time. The new pax terminal at Ramstein has two jetways I think.
Peter LOX 2
Hop on the bus, tour the airport the up the stairs in to the aircraft and after landing the reverse scenario. Oh I loved that time
It did make flying more 'personal'. Seeing the planes, and how large they are. Just she scenes of the airport. And I've heard people complain about the buses at Dulles, people complaining about the trams at IAH, and MCO. They apparently try to 'sterilize' the flying experience.

(I remember once, getting into an RJ at the local airport. The jet bridge canopy didn't completely cover the gap between the bridge and the plane (the jet bridge was far too tall for that type of plane), and as people got on after me, were carping about getting rained on for that brief moment getting on the plane. Good grief... I laughed at one person wondering aloud if the plane could safely fly 'in all this rain'. I kid you not!)
Larry Toler 6
LMAO. I used to be an FA on ERJ145's and J41's. All those nervous pax used to trip me out. The worse were space-A pax riding on 130's and 141's. Usually it was the dependant wives bitching. That's why in the Air Force I preferred cargo processing, ramp, operations, or even fleet services to working pax services in my career field. Cargo don't bitch.
I did enjoy being an FA though and some of the crazy pax as they were my bread and butter for some years. It helped having an air transportation background and a love of flying anything with wings.
bbabis 2
Thank you. An Interesting read that I probably wouldn’t have found myself.
Mike Hewson 2
When I landed at HJKJ in 1995 there was a unformed man with a large machine gun at the bottom of the stairs. The sign behind him said "Welcome to Kenya".
Larry Toler 2
That would have been a cool picture.
i remember a time when airports (at least the smaller ones) did not have jet went right from the ticket counter to a gate area to a big outside glass door where you walked onto the tarmac several hundred feet,to a moveable stairs, and went onto the airplane..some airports had a canopy,simlar to the old one on decks,,that was elongated and in inclement weather ,you walked under that to the stairs..simpler times,no security checkpoints and happier travellers..
Flying out of Heathrow two years ago, we boarded the Dreamliner via portable steps as the plane did not have a "gate assignment". Such a neat experience.

I can still remember seeing my brother off when his Naval leave (mid-70's) was over flying out of EVV and walking out of the terminal with him and the family to see him board. If I remember, the aircraft had "steps" that came out from the fuselage. Not sure what the a/c model was, but I believe it was either Allegheny or Ozark Airlines.
Larry Toler 1
DC9's and older 737's have built in stairs like that.
It seems most boarding bridges in the US are designed without windows - just a walled steele corridor. I'm always happy to land at Heathrow, where you see boarding bridges with glass sides. Apparently it's been a fire code thing until recently.
WhiteKnight77 1
The Leipzig-Halle airport has a glass air bridge to steel jetway coming off the concourse.
Jet bridge? What is that? Have you flown into Santa Fe?
Peter Fuller 1
I remember arriving at SYR in the early ‘70s in a DC10. No jet bridges back then, the gate piers were one level at the ramp, walk-in, walk-out. From the top of the stairs at DC10-height you could see across the whole airport.

Another SYR memory: once I arrived for a People Express flight to EWR to find the gate area very crowded. Turned out an earlier departure was delayed so there were two planes on the ramp. When I walked out to board I asked an agent on the ramp “I’m on flight such-and-such, which plane is it?” The answer was something like “Doesn’t matter, just pick one.” So much for an accurate passenger manifest!

Jet bridges by comparison are no fun.
Great article. Brings back fond memories, when thete were no boarding 'anythings' back in the mid-50s (orderly), and later on in the late '80s thru early'90s in the former-Soviet republics (not orderly) that were absolutely hilarious - from the fence, to the tarmac, to the stairs.


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