It figures. As soon as I find myself flying around with a baby in tow, the airlines stop offering pre-boarding to people traveling with small children. I asked the person taking tickets today if I could go on, and she greeted me with a curt "not yet" and an explanation of the new policy, and then asked me to step aside while the gold medallion people swept through. Turns out they got held up at the valet stand though because the lady didn't give them pink valet tags. I'd like to think I had something to do with that, heh.
I don't just say this out of some sort of parental entitlement--I actually don't mind standing in line, and N is quite a patient little passenger--but with a baby so young I really do need the extra time to get settled into the seat before the person sitting on the aisle seat next to us boards. I'm usually trying to get her situated to nurse so that the takeoff doesn't hurt her ears (or the ears of the people around us), and to do that discreetly requires strategic positioning of lots of blankets. I also have to make sure that all the necessaries--N's favorite book, favorite teething toy, etc.,--are within reach, and so it helps to have the seat next to me empty while I get organized.
So this new "policy" pretty much sucks. But what's even more outrageous is that this also means anyone who needs extra time or assistance is stuck boarding in their assigned zones, including the BLIND GUY on my flight. I am not making this up.
All this said, N is a really great flyer and has developed an odd obsession with tray tables.