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United Tests New Boarding Process, Looks to Add Boarding Group 6

United Tests New Boarding Process, Looks to Add Boarding Group 6

BY LUKE WIROSTKO 04/28/2023 AGO 1 COMMENTS

United Airlines is currently testing a revamped boarding process for United and United Express-operated flights at several United States airports. Documents shared by the airline reveal that it may add a sixth boarding group and reshuffle certain passengers into this new group.

 

Photo: AeroXplorer | Sebastian Colaizzi

 

Testing has already begun at select U.S. airports: Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP), Orlando International (MCO), and Los Angeles International (LAX). A photo on Twitter shows a passenger with his boarding pass marked for group 6.

 

 



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The Current Process

 

Currently, United boards its aircraft with five distinct boarding groups, labeled 1-5, and an option for select customers to "Pre-board". The Chicago-based airline has traditionally had a smaller number of boarding groups compared to its competitors. American Airlines, for example, has nine different boarding groups.

 

Photo: AeroXplorer | Andrew Seong

 

United allows customers with disabilities, active duty military personnel, families with young children, United Global Service passengers, as well as Premier 1K Passengers to participate in its pre-boarding queue. The rest of United's passengers will board in the following order: 

 

Group 1: Passengers seated in Premier Cabins (United First, United Polaris, United Business), United Premier Platinum and Gold members, and Star Alliance Gold Members 

Group 2: United Premier Silver Members, Star Alliance Silver Members, United Branded Credit Card holders, and those who paid for priority boarding or Premier Access.

Group 3: United Economy Plus or Economy passengers seated in a window seat. Includes non-revenue passengers.

Group 4: United Economy Plus or Economy passengers seated in a middle or aisle seat.

Group 5: United Basic Economy Passengers 

 



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United's Proposed Changes

 

The new process being tested would keep Groups 1-3 the same while altering who is eligible to board in Groups 4 and 5. The proposed changes also add a Group 6, which would be reserved for Basic Economy passengers. 

 

Photo: AeroXplorer | Dylan Campbell

 

United would split up United Economy passengers who usually board with Group 4 into two separate groups. Passengers seated in the middle seats would board earlier with Group 4. Those economy passengers seated in aisle seats would board later with Group 5.

 



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Logically, these new assignments make sense, as middle seat passengers would ideally already be seated before aisle passengers are boarded to avoid passengers having to get up from their seats to allow a passenger to sit further in the row. 

 

Photo: AeroXplorer | Edwin Sims

 

United is also testing its PA announcements' verbiage to further improve efficiency. As these changes are still only being tested, the airline is communicating with passengers traveling on flights where these methods are being tested, informing them of the altered boarding procedure.

 

The new boarding order is as follows:

 

Group 1: Passengers seated in Premier Cabins (United First, United Polaris, United Business), United Premier Platinum and Gold members, and Star Alliance Gold Members 

Group 2: United Premier Silver Members, Star Alliance Silver Members, United Branded Credit Card holders, and those who paid for priority boarding or Premier Access.

Group 3: United Economy Plus or Economy passengers seated in a window seat. Includes non-revenue passengers.

Group 4: United Economy Plus or Economy passengers seated in a middle seat.

Group 5: United Economy Plus or Economy passengers seated in an aisle seat.

Group 6: United Basic Economy Passengers 

 



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Why this Matters

 

Aviation critics have long pointed out the inefficiency of airplane boarding. Anyone who has ever flown is familiar with the frustration caused by a completely stationary line stretching from the main aisle up the jet bridge. These delays can largely be tied to inefficient boarding procedures. 

 



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The biggest culprit of creating delays is when passengers have to get up from their seats to allow a later boarding passenger to take their seat further into the row. This causes the process to take extra time, as the seated passengers have to get up and sit back down. To add further inefficiency, the arrangement also blocks the aisle, preventing other passengers from taking their seats.

 

A 2011 study by the University of Nevada detailing the best ways to board a commercial airplane proved that boarding window, middle, and aisle, in that order, could lead to much faster boarding times.

 

Photo: AeroXplorer | Adam Jackson

 

Not only could United Airlines make boarding its own flights faster with this new boarding process, but it could influence other companies to shift their boarding procedures, leading to fewer delays and hassles industry-wide when boarding a commercial airplane.

Comments (1)

Alex Sherwood Well done bud!
298d ago • Reply

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