Due to increased air traffic volume, ticket check lineups and new boarding precautions determined by Homeland Security, getting onto a flight isn't anywhere as quick as it used to be. That's why a number of major airlines have come up with procedures to at least mitigate the inconvenience of boarding.
Days after American Airlines and Delta announced new gate protocol, United has also found a way to speed up the process. The announcement made on Tuesday is effective immediately and for those who don't have a heads-up about the boarding process, be prepared to bone up on the sequence which could become complicated to the uninitiated.
For starters, United has reduced the number of its boarding lanes from five to two, with Lane 1 designated as blue and Lane 2 referred to as green. The pre-boarding announcement is the cue for Premier 1K and Global Services passengers to get to Lane 1. Active military personnel with families and children 2 and under can also line up.
Once the first batch has boarded, American boarding staff will call for Group 1 passengers, which includes first-class, business class as well Platinum and Gold fliers to head to Lane 1. Group 2 fliers with Silver status, United credit cards, and passengers who bought priority access privileges will be called to Lane 2.
Still with us? Once all the previous passengers are packing themselves into the fuselage, there's still Groups 3-5 to deal with. They'll be called in order and asked to line up in Lane 2. Why? Because the now-vacant Lane 1 is for the benefit of anyone in Groups 1 and 2 who didn't arrive in time for the initial calls. They have the right to bump the economy class passengers in the last three groups to get onto the plane.
The United boarding scheme has been in a series of tests for nearly a year, based on customer and staff feedback. A few airport gates were used for additional testing and tweaking, which also included the implementation of better boarding signage. After testing these changes at numerous airports, United officially launched the better-boarding service at Los Angeles International Airport back in February. Going forward, all airports that United services are using the new protocol.