Airlines love full flights but overcrowding at terminal gates is a side effect the airlines are not happy with.
United Airlines announced that its customers complained about the groups of passengers in and around its different gates. Travelers filled corridors and passengers arriving on flights who came off the aircraft were met with large numbers of departing passengers.
The airlines’ global operations strategy managing director Maria Walter said the congestion is too much and has created much angst for United customers.
On Tuesday, the airline debuted its new boarding process as it attempts to battle the gate overcrowding and make sure flights are able to depart on a timely basis as more travelers than ever before are opting to fly.
United lowered its boarding lines from five to two and has urged its passengers to wait until their group in numbers 1 to 5 is called. In the 12-month period through the end of August, United carried nearly 155 million passengers, which is 6.1% higher than the same period one year earlier.
Currently the airline is sending out notifications to passengers on mobile devices to advise them that the boarding had started once the first passenger’s boarding pass has been screened. That allows passengers to remain in other areas of the airport, such as stores or restaurants until the boarding process begins.
Travelers at times would line up as long as an hour prior to the flight, which in turn attracts more passengers to join the line.
United’s system of two lines brings it into line with other airlines such as Delta and American. Southwest does give seat assignments in advance but sorts its passengers into groups that are based on when they checked in or by the status they have for loyalty.
Different processes for boarding were tested by United on more than 12,000 flights over the last year as the airline reviewed feedback from its customers.
The airline made adjustments to some boarding group members by adding its top tier travelers to its pre-boarding group, along with any passengers that have disabilities and active members of the military.
Members in the loyalty program Premier Gold are now in group 1, as members in group 2 including holders of United credit cards, has become too large, said Walter.
Some passengers are pleased with the new method even though travelers jockey for precious space in the overhead bins.