Airlines are constantly changing around the way the board passengers, and American and Delta are the latest to add new twists to the process.
Instead of calling out eligible boarders by category (“Executive Platinums…AAdvantage Golds” etc.), American this week started giving numbers to the relevant groups, from 1 to 9. There’s even a sort of “Group Zero” – ConciergeKey members, who can pre-board ahead of the masses.
Group 1 consists of first class passengers (or business class on a two-class international flight) and active duty military, the same as before. Group 2 covers Executive Platinums and Oneworld Emeralds, along with business class travelers on three-class aircraft. In Group 3 are Platinum Pros and regular Platinums along with Oneworld Sapphires. Those are all pretty much the same as before. Group 4 has two parts – first are AAdvantage Golds and Oneworld Rubys, followed by Alaska Airlines MVPs, AirPass members, Premium Economy passengers, Citi AAdvantage Executive cardholders, and those who purchased priority boarding privileges.
In Group 5 are those booked into Main Cabin Extra seats, along with other AAdvantage cardholders and corporate travelers whose companies have deals with American. All the above groups go through the priority boarding lane. Once they’re aboard, the next three groups, using the main boarding lane, are regular economy passengers. Bringing up the rear are price-conscious travelers who bought American’s new Basic Economy fares.
Here’s a link to American’s explanation of the new numbered groups, which American says will mean a “simplified” boarding process.
Delta’s innovation is a little simpler. It’s not reorganizing boarding groups, but trying to “streamline” the process by installing pillars that will help passengers queue up into four parallel lines. (Helloooo Southwest!)
The airline is trying out the new enhancement at five of its gates in the B Concourse at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson. The columns are numbered zones one through three, along with Sky Priority, the latter for premium customers and those needing special assistance.
Delta said it expects the new procedure for arranging passengers in parallel lines will mean “less crowding and confusion at the gate in addition to a more seamless transition when entering the plane.” If customer feedback is favorable, Delta said, it will expand the procedure to more airports.
Readers: Which airline do you think has the best boarding procedure, and why?