A friend asked me if I take advantage of the priority boarding when traveling with Connor. I said it depends, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I've certainly boarded at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. There are a couple of reason for this, one being Connor, one being consideration for the other passengers.
In his over 80 flights, Connor has been a dream traveler, he's never been bothered by altitude changes, he's happily slept during flights and maybe the best part, he is excited about going on airplanes. We've been lucky.
For the most part I think that priority boarding should be used because it allows you extra time to get settled, and when you are traveling with a young traveler, extra time can seem rare! I like to install Connor's car seat or (more often) his Cares Travel Restraint System and that's easier to do before others board. Not to mention when you are one of the first on the plane you don't have to worry about there being room for your carry-on luggage in the overhead bins! (also when you are traveling with a child under 2 years old who is sharing your seat, more time means time to get settled before the flight attendant briefing on positions for take-off and landing)
Connor likes to say hello to the flight attendants, give them hi-fives and look out the window at the action on the tarmac. If we board earlier, the extra time allows him to do all of this. If we board at the end, things are a bit more rushed and I think he can tell. There's no looking out the window waving to the baggage handlers, no checking out the contents of the seat pocket in front, instead it's hop into the seat and buckle up.
More often than not, I gate check a stroller and I like making sure that I leave the stroller at the cabin door with sufficient time for it to be stored below.Whenever possible, I think that it's courteous to the other passengers to use the pre-boarding, boarding with a toddler (or a baby) can take longer. Not to mention it's often safer with a toddler! Connor likes to walk to his seat himself (something I am thankful for!) and there have been occasions when he's been hit by another passenger's bag in the aisle, not intentionally, but because he's 2 and he's shorter than most travellers!
The times I haven't used the pre-boarding option have been when Connor is more interested in running like a speed demon, in these cases, I know it's wise to use of this energy so that when we do board he'll be happier-and so will the other passengers!
I think that there isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer, that it may very well be influenced by the circumstances of that particular travel day but I do know that I'm thankful for the option.