It’s an unwelcomed airport ritual: An gate agent calls Group 1, and passengers holding Group 1 boarding passes dutifully approach the walkway to board.
So do passengers holding Groups 2, 3 and 4 boarding passes. In no particular order, they crowd around the two boarding lanes, blocking entry and creating confusion.
Delta Air Lines has been testing new boarding procedures that would do away with this annoyance, creating a less chaotic, more civilized experience.
The most promising is one that looks remarkably like the system Southwest has used since 2010.
Instead of the two-aisle approach—one for priority passengers (premium and high-status passengers) and the other for everyone else—Delta has set up four pillars. Passengers form lines behind each pillar according to their boarding groups.
A fifth pillar, marked “Premium” and set apart from the others, is for first and business class passengers.
The boarding process is currently in use at five departure gates on the B Concourse at Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport.
It will continue to be rolled out at Delta gates throughout the airport, and Delta may deploy it at other airports if it continues to receive positive feedback.