If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you know the drill. First the people with super duper airline status are allowed on, then just super statuses people, followed by the plain ol’ status folks. They’re all followed by active service people, then those who need extra time, then families with small children and then the regular people are finally allowed onto the plane. But from 15 minutes before they even make an announcement that they’re going to start boarding soon, 3/4 of the people who will be on that flight are surrounding the boarding area, and those whose tickets say they will be the absolute last group to board the plane are usually the ones closer to the gate than anyone else. I don’t know about you, but I personally think the system is totally disorganized and sets people up to worry about who’s in the way, who just cut the line, etc. It’s the epitome of the “cattle” atmosphere that modern-day flying has become and is simply annoying. I guess the executives and planners at United must have thought so too because this past Friday, while preparing to go to Chicago, we encountered a whole new way of boarding the plane.
Appearing to borrow from the Southwest Airline playbook (where you are assigned a letter and number when you check in and queue up and board the plane in alphabetical and then numerical order), United had stanchions set up into rows that were labeled Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4 and Group 5. You could queue up in your designated group whenever you wanted and when the time came to board the plane, Group 1 was boarded first in the order in which they were on line, followed by Group 2, and so on.
You know what? It was simple but wow, was it effective! Everyone boarded the plane in an organized fashion, no one had to worry about anyone else cutting the line, and it was much less, to invent a word, “cattle-esque.” It just worked, and did so really well!
I don’t know if this is simply a test United is doing or if it’s a permanent change (then again, we haven’t flown on United in a while – maybe they’ve been doing it for years and we just didn’t know it, LOLOL!), but it was set up at both MCO and ORD. I hope it’s permanent because it made that part of the flying process that much more comfortable. United has gotten a lot of bad press recently, and with good reason (this and this, for example). At least this is finally something positive that can be said about them.
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