Friday, 1 June 2018

United try new boarding method where those that pay least board last

United Airlines are trying out a new boarding process that echoes the second class passenger boarding processes introduced by other airlines, including British Airways, whereby the passengers pay the least expensive fares board last.  

The airline is testing using just two-boarding lines and monitors to show which boarding group is being called. It is a system they used to use before switching to the current method in 2012. The idea is to help speed up boarding, with those paying the most getting on first and those that paid the least boarding last. 

Gate agents will be on the lookout for passengers carrying cabin bags that don't look likely to fit in the overhead luggage lockers or the lockers are already full, will insist the bag is placed in the hold and will charge passengers $25 for the gate-handling fee plus the $25 to check the bag.

At the moment the system is being trialled at Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, however, there are plans to extend the trial to other airports from next month.

United says the new process on trial is aimed at making the boarding process faster, however gate staff at Chicago have been told to gate check more bags, so the real reason could be more of a financial one. United is keen to push sales 'board early' product and make more money from each passenger via ancillary or add-on services whilst maintaining its 'low fares' advertising.