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United changes boarding process

United Airlines' Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft

United Airlines has switched up its boarding process, saying it is aiming to reduce the time passengers spend waiting in queues at gates.

The airline claims the new process will give passengers more space at the gate, while the carrier will provide ‘improved’ boarding information in an effort to reduce stress.

The new process starts with a reduction in the number of boarding lanes from five to two, claiming the move will give passengers more time to stay seated at the gate or in a nearby lounge before getting in a queue.

United app users will receive an alert when boarding has begun for their flight, which the carrier says lets them know the best time to start making their way to the gate. In the future, United plans to expand these notifications to text messages for non-app users.

In addition, digital displays in the gate area will update passengers with boarding information.

Top-tier members of United’s Mileageplus loyalty programme will also see changes to the boarding process, with Premier 1K customers who were previously included in group one invited to pre-board. Premier Gold members will also move up to group one from group two. Qualifying United credit card holders will still receive priority boarding in group two.

United claims changing the boarding groups for these members will ‘balance out’ the number of passengers in each of the five groups.

The carrier began testing the new boarding format in autumn 2017, and it says it has received positive feedback from both passengers and employees. The process will be rolled out at more than 1,000 gates across the world.

Sarah Murphy, vice president of global operations strategy, planning and design at United, said: “The boarding process was one of the top areas customers told us they wanted improved. We listened to customers and employees as we tested a variety of process on thousands of flights until we found a better boarding process that results in less time spent waiting in lines, improved communication and a better way to recognise our Premier customers while balancing out the number of passengers in each boarding group.”

united.com

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