United has heard our plea; to hell with row boarding

I had recounted the horrors of United’s experiment with row boarding scheme. Almost all of you concurred that the experiment created nothing but chaos. It seems United has heard our plea and will revert back to the old zone boarding scheme. However, they would keep one aspect from their experiment: uniformed military will board first. This is something I really appreciate. They are much more valuable to the nation than elites.


The announcement on United’s facebook page is as follows:


“We’ve been listening to your feedback about the recent boarding changes and starting June 8, we’ll return to boarding by zones on United-operated flights. Continental-operated flights will continue to board from the rear to the front, but in the near future, will also begin zone boarding. We will still allow uniformed military to board first followed by Premier/Elite customers premium boarding with a tiered approach.”

Yay United, +1 over Continental


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  1. Here’s the funny thing about this “reversal” of course…

    Almost all the uproar was about the carpet being too crowded. That part isn’t going to change as they are still going to let all elites use it. So all the whiners think they won but all they got was the last half the plane boarding differently and no real change from what was originally announced.

    Great work!

  2. +1 over Continental? I didn’t realize the merger was a competition. :p

    Regardless of how they ultimately decide to board the planes, the process is going to be a mess if people continue to crowd the boarding lanes before their elite tier or zone is called and if gate agents continue to botch up the announcements. All of the chaos I observed during recent boarding experiences has been related to the above items and had nothing to do with boarding by rows instead of zones.

  3. I agree with sdm1130. The flights I’ve been on where boarding was chaos were mostly caused by all the elites crowding the red carpet — a problem that I’ve witnessed repeatedly on UA flights for years now — and/or gate agents terribly botching the announcements.

    The one flight I had a couple of weeks ago when the announcements were correct, and the gate agent walked around asking people crowding the boarding lanes before boarding ever started to step aside and sit down until their group was called, had was quickly boarded. It was also a fully loaded 320 on a hub-hub route (ORD-DEN), with a lot of elites, so many that quite a few were in E- seats. It was also a flight with a late inbound aircraft, that started boarding 10 minutes late. We still pushed back very close to on time, with the door closing only 2 minutes late. So, it can be done. But it’s also up to the elite passengers to stop all trying to be first on board and stop crowding around the door dozens of minutes before boarding starts.

  4. @Seth They are letting everyone use the carpet, but as long as the GAs follow the order, it should be fine. @sdm1130 😀 I probably got too excited hearing that United’s more efficient process will trump 🙂 I think zone boarding causes less crowding since everyone knows when they would board, with row boarding, that is difficult to determine.
    @Steven, if the GAs are strict about the order, I think they can prevent chaos. When the elites see that GAs dont care about their DYKWIA, the crowding disperses, even if a little.

  5. Hi,
    Okay traveling from LAX to MCO next week on United Economy Plus with my 6-yr.-old nephew and sitting in bulkhead with no under-seat storage. Any idea if I will get pre-boarded because I have a little kid? or does Economy Plus get any priority in boarding? If not, is it worth the extra $39 to get priority boarding? Thanks for any input anyone can offer.

  6. @Mike, you should get pre-boarding as you are traveling with your nephew. Even otherwise, it is better to check a bag for $25 (if you have no status) than pay $39 for priority boarding.

    Maybe I am missing something, but I still don’t fully understand why there is a rush to board first despite traveling light.

  7. @Nomad, Thank you. That is very helpful input. And for me, we are checking bags AND traveling light; but as some may understand, traveling with a 6-yr.-old on a five hour flight requires lugging some games, toys, a DVD, etc. to ensure a pleasant experience for us and those surrounding us. Since there is no under-seat storage in the bulkhead and you cannot hold stuff in your lap during takeoff and landing, we will need the overhead bin and closer to our seat is better:) Again thanks Nomad!

  8. @ Mike I understand 🙂 Unless the gate agent messes things up, you should be boarding ahead of others. However, it would be prudent to talk to the gate agent beforehand and confirm this.

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