Earlier this month, United (UA) changed the boarding process on its aircrafts. The old system was so easy! First the red carpet boarding for Global Services/1K followed by Premier Executive and Star Alliance Gold members. The rest of the passengers boarded by zones: Zone 1 catered to all remaining elites; zone 2, 3 and 4 were for passengers in window, middle and aisle seats respectively.
I have yet to see a consistent order with the new boarding process. However, the general order is as follows:
- Military (supposedly only those in uniform; but I have seen non-uniformed personnel boarding the aircraft too);
- Families with small children;
- Global Services/1K/Continental Presidential Platinum/Platinum/First and Business Class passengers;
- Star Alliance Gold, Premier Executive, Premier, Star Alliance Silver;
- Remaining passengers are boarded by seat numbers from ‘back to front’.
I have seen plenty of variants of this order. In Los Angeles (LAX) last week, all elites including Star Alliance Silver and 1K were asked to board together. A huge commotion ensued. In another case at Chicago (ORD), Star Alliance Silvers were not given any preference at all over non-elite passengers!
Personally, I feel this new method has more cons than pros. I liked UA giving preference to military and families over other passengers. On-duty military personnel are certainly more valuable than elites. And I love boarding after the ruckus created by families settles down. Nevertheless, calling all elites to board together is a nightmare on elite heavy routes! Moreover, boarding by seat number means that by the time the front seat passengers board, their overhead bins are already full with the luggage of other passengers. The commotion this creates takes time to settle down. It would be great if UA modified this procedure to incorporate the simplicity of the earlier boarding process.
Have you experienced the new boarding procedure? Do you think it is actually better than the old process?