United Airlines today announced a number of new changes to its boarding process, changes that it said will make it easier, and less stressful, for flyers getting onboard.
United will change the number of lanes from five to two, giving customers more space at boarding gates that are becoming increasingly crowded as airlines traffic increases. (According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. airlines carried an all-time high number of passengers during 2017 at 849.9 million, more than 50 million more than 2015 and a 100 million more than 2013.)
United will now also let passengers know when exactly their flight is boarding through the United App and text messages for those passengers who provide their mobile phone numbers at time of booking, in hopes of alleviating the congestion in front of gates during the boarding process. Military passengers will now get an expanded pre-boarding that will include both uniformed and non-uniformed personnel.
"The boarding process was one of the top areas customers told us they wanted improved," said Sarah Murphy, vice president of Global Operations Strategy, Planning and Design. According to Murphy, United took feedback from passengers on thousands of flights and will implement the changes to produce “a better boarding process that results in less time spent waiting in lines, [and] improved communication.”
The new process also includes more benefits for the airline’s MileagePlus members—MileagePlus Premier 1k members, who had previously boarded in group one, will now be able to pre-board, while Premier Gold members will get to board in group one, instead of two.