American Airlines Has Updated Its Boarding Announcements

American Airlines has updated the script that gate agents are supposed to use when boarding planes. It should be the same, each and every time. The goal in streamlining the script is to help them get planes out exactly on-time, reducing the time it takes to board the aircraft, and giving passengers instructions that – if followed – help towards this goal.

Here’s the memo:

And here’s the standard outline for American’s domestic boarding announcements. The international script is similar.

  • 10 minutes prior to boarding:

    Good #daypart#, I would like to welcome you to the boarding area for American flight #f# to #d#.

    Your carry-on allowance is one carry-on bag, and one personal item. To speed up the boarding process and help get you out on time, it’s important you place smaller personal items such as backpacks and purses under the seat in front of you reserving overhead bins for larger carry-ons only.

    Please keep the boarding lanes clear until the group number shown on your boarding pass has been called. If your boarding pass does not have a group number, please board with Group 7.

    Then, for narrowbody aircraft 90%+ full,

    Today we have a very full flight and overhead space is limited, so we’ll need to check bags here at the gate prior to departure. If you’re in groups 8 or 9, we expect to run out of overhead bin space by the time we’ve reached your boarding group. To help expedite boarding, any customer is welcome to come forward at this time to check your carry-on bag to your final destination at no charge.

    Thank you for choosing to fly American! We will begin boarding flight #f# to #d# in about minutes.

  • At start of boarding: “once GateReader indicates boarding may begin”

    We will now begin boarding American flight #f# to #d# by welcoming our ConciergeKey customers to board now, or at any time during the boarding process, through the Priority Lane.

    We now welcome Group 1 customers and U.S. Military members with an active military ID to board flight XXXX to XXX through the Priority Lane.

    Then – for Airbus A321 and Boeing 737 aircraft with larger overhead bins (American hasn’t retrofitted A319s or 320s with these),

    Please place your roller bags in the overhead bin, wheels first, turning the bag onto its narrow side to allow more bags to fit in each bin. Smaller items such as backpacks and purses must be placed under the seat in front of you.

    Followed by,

    Group 2 customers are now welcome to board flight XXXX to XXX.

    Group 3 customers are welcome to board flight XXXX to XXX.

    Group 4 customers are welcome to board flight XXXX to XXX.

    Group 5 customers are welcome to board flight XXXX to XXX through the Main Boarding Lane. As a reminder, our overhead bins are reserved for roller bags, please stow smaller personal items such as backpacks and purses under the seat in front of you. This helps speed up boarding.

    We now welcome our AAdvantage members in Group 6 to board flight #### to XXX. If you’re not already an AAdvantage member, you can join for free at aa.com/enroll.

    Group 7 customers are welcome to board flight XXXX to XXX. Don’t forget to place your smaller personal items such as backpacks and purses under the seat in front of you.

    Group 8 customers are welcome to board flight XXXX to XXX. Don’t forget to place your smaller personal items such as backpacks and purses under the seat in front of you.

    Group 9 customers are welcome to board flight XXXX to XXX.

    This is the final boarding call for American Airlines flight XXXX to XXX through gate #g#.

This is an effort to board more quickly. They’ve chopped down the announcement, and they’re trying to get people to stow their bags ‘correctly’. While new overhead bins support about one carry on bag per customer, people do not use these bins correctly taking up too much space.

It’s a real shame that American hasn’t updated the bins on its ‘basket of deplorables’ legacy US Airways Airbus A320s, or on their A319s. That makes it more likely American will have to gate check bags, which takes time and hurts on-time performance. It’s also why agents are so keen to get people to check their bags, and not let people board with carry-ons in case bins get full, since gate checking tends to happen at the last minute and can be the difference between an exact on-time departure and leaving a couple of minutes late.

I’d also add that it seems like a bit of a crime that American tells people a website URL to enroll in the AAdvantage program, and doesn’t have gate signage. The could even upgrade boarding position right on the spot for new program members! Delta reports numbers that they’re able to convert one in eight new SkyMiles program members to co-brand credit card customers – the value of a new member is high. But American still doesn’t make it possible to join the program inside the booking path when buying a ticket on the American Airlines website.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. American is its own worse enemy when it comes to carry on. They discourage carry on by charging a bag fee. Add to that people are afraid their bag will be lost, stolen, or pilfered if they check it after paying said fee. So yeah, by their policy alone, and the fact that the passengers can’t trust the airline to actually deliver their bag without being pilfered, the airline encourages people to carry on, which in turn hurts their on-time performance. And pilfering can be prevented. Profits over on-time is the mantra.

  2. Even Spirit has pillar signs at the gate to scan a QR code while boarding to sign up for their frequent flyer program and get some bonus miles in the process.

    American’s boarding process/announcements is something right out of a comedy sketch about pointless things in air travel. I’m about consistency (once upon a time was an auditor for an airline who would drop in unannounced and see how long I could go before being made or observe something I needed to step in and stop)…. but standing there in a gate area with 5 people boarding in Salisbury, MD and the agent is inviting Concierge Key and then pauses… when they should very well know if any are on the aircraft. Nobody moved until the 4th Group and then after that not until the final Groups. Again, there is technology that could tailor the script to the flight. Some ULCCs even have it… input the flight number/date/city, and here’s your script.

  3. I was surprised on recent flights…We were traveling with an 18-month old and were told multiple times by AA gate agents (across different cities) that pre-boarding with small children is not allowed. You board with your group number.

    I typically fly UA, which explicitly allows families with children under 2 to pre-board….Was it always this way with AA?

  4. Ugh – You can’t have “a very full flight”. If it’s full, then all seats are occupied. If it’s not at 100%, then say “almost full” or “nearly full”!

  5. @Ned,

    This is what I don’t get about the airline industry. There is no reason a GA should even be reading the boarding script. It should be automated once the “boarding group” changes. I swear these companies must be run by dinosaurs who can’t even use an iPhone or understand what automation is. Furthermore, Boarding by group should also be an automated push notification/text notification. Much of this would help. It wouldn’t be great, but it would help. Maybe even mild “sticks” for those crowding the gates, or boarding out of order. (maybe a stick version of a carrot, if you board in your correct group, you get a 5 dollar rebate. Just add it to the cost of the ticket so it’s not really a loss.) If i can think of things like this, and I don’t even work in the industry, what kind of ijits do they have running these places?

  6. For the most part these announcements will fall on deaf ears as many pax have earbuds in or are so preoccupied with other matters they won’t notice.
    In regards to the deplorable 319/320’s, it’s highly unlikely the company wants to spend $$$ on planes that they may not keep around much longer. Have to amortize those costs. Also not sure but depending how long those planes would have to be out of service that would have an effect on the bottom line.

  7. “Welcome to the boarding area. Since none of you are concierge key, we will give you a moment to consider where you failed in life. . We are now please to welcome Group 1…”

  8. I have not seen it mentioned on any travel blogs but AA appears to be making DFW FCO and DFW DUB year-round service instead of seasonal. This is a good move in my opinion. The lack of European service has a been a frequent observation. AA customers will be happy with another central European destination other than FRA, although FRA is an excellent connection point. FCO has a lot of service to the Balkans.

  9. Lol
    What may actually help is if they didn’t keep asking the next group to board while the previous group is still waiting to get thier boarding pass scanned but this is American Airlines the same airline that says your plane is on time even when it has just barely departed its origin and won’t land until passed boarding time

    Happy I left for UA last year.

  10. @Brandon,

    Yeah, you are completely right. Welcome to an insular industry full of people who just churn and churn and move the same ideas from one company to another for the most part, and they hire consulting firms who move from company to company using the find/replace feature to change the name on their ideas, collect a big bill, and move on before living the consequences. Pella Windows? American Airlines? Blue Cross? Speak vague enough it works for all. Also remember that at the very root of many airline systems is software dating from the 1960s at best. I’ve worked with airlines like a ULCC that brought in IT and systems design folks from other industries like education and healthcare (maybe they get a bad rap, but healthcare has churned out some pretty good end user stuff lately). You are so right on the automated. Some of this requires airports to get on board too and think outside the box… one airport I dealt with wouldn’t allow automated gate announcements because a.) their PA system wasn’t compatible because it was so old so airline would have to install their own (which they were willing to do) but they would not allow that because of b.) fire marshal disallowed any proprietary public address because it wouldn’t allow them to override it and make emergency announcements to whole airport on one system. I don’t see how so many boarding groups, over about 4, is very efficient or effective. It seems to be a function of marketing. Spend that extra $10k on the card to get one group ahead!

  11. @ Ned,

    The consulting portion is so correct and sad all at the same time. I get there is an upfront outlay to all of this, but its not so expensive that the return period will be greater than a couple of years.

    Even using legacy equipment, there is still ways to automate that. That’s just hitting roadblocks with piss poor management.

  12. Nobody listens to the announcements. Especially the part about putting rollerboards on their narrow sides in the larger bins. Nobody (except me it seems) does it. This includes supposed Exec plats and CKs. Although this is not a problem exclusive to AA. United 1Ks don’t do it either.

    I agree about the boarding for CKs–gate agents should know if one is on the flight, otherwise, just move the process along…

  13. There is also a new standard announcement:
    “The Captain has asked your flight attendants to remain seated due to turbulence. We’re sorry ( j/k lol ) that we won’t be able to provide any service during this flight. Thank you for understanding.”

  14. I always have to laugh when they announce that we have a very full flight. I’m still trying to understand the difference between a ‘full’ and a ‘very full’ flight. Full is full.

  15. The problem with elite status on some AA routes is when everyone is CK or EP, nobody other that CK is elite. I was on LGA-CLT. 4 CK on flight. The cast of Ben Hur was in Zone 1

  16. Here is a script to help simplify American Airlines boarding messages:

    We will now begin boarding American flight #f# to #d# by welcoming our ConciergeKey customers to board now, or at any time during the boarding process, through the Priority Lane.
    We now welcome Group 1 through 4 customers and U.S. Military members with an active military ID to board flight XXXX to XXX through the Priority Lane.

    Gate lice and groups 5 through group 9 customers are welcome to jam up the jetway as they board flight XXXX to XXX through the Main Boarding Lane. As a reminder, our overhead bins are reserved for roller bags; please stow smaller personal items, such as backpacks and purses, under the seat in front of you. This helps speed up boarding.

    This is the final boarding call for American Airlines flight XXXX to XXX through gate #g#.

  17. When I flew out of the new terminal A in Newark last week, United was using automated boarding announcements. The gate agents did not make a single announcement. I will say the announcements were concise and easy to understand

  18. So as a 6’3” man I need all the leg room I can get. I usually check a bag and only have a small carry-on. A huge pet peeve of mine is that now I’m supposed to put my small bag at me feet taking away my leg room so that some one can put a huge bag in the overhead. Essentially, I’m penalized twice for checking a bag. Screw the airlines and this horrible policy. I will continue to put my small bag ip top and the. Maybe they can force these people with huge carry ons to check their bag.

  19. @Mets Fan in NC ……. EP status is practically worthless. At least on UA they call 1K’s as a group, after GS but before the rest of Group 1. I feel like a genuine sucker for spending as much money as I do on AA.

  20. Sure, you have to gate-check if in groups 8-9 on a 320/319. That has nothing on the AF gate agent I had last week who wanted EVERYONE, even J class, to gate check their bags. She claimed an A319 is too small for rollaboards as if it was a CRJ

  21. This is a JOKE. uUnless they ENFORCE the boarding zones boarding by zones is a joke and useless.

  22. Great comments. I just flew American.. flights left late both heading to my destination and returning home. Both times almost missed my connections which were completing boarding process. The other issue is not taking control or having a boarding process for departing passengers. Nightmare, slows process and in a cascading effect contributes to missed connections and delayed takeoff of following flights. Ouch. I don’t think I much or all of this is the blame of in flight control who have to deal with unruly and nasty passengers. Overhaul of whole system needed. Flying is no longer a great experience and a general lack of confidence in the airline industry overall..

  23. Now if American will only ENFORCE the baggage rules WITHOUT EXCEPTION the boarding WILL go smoother. And add this to the Baggage instructions,” place your carryon bag in the overhead bin ABOVE YOUR ASSIGNED SEAT, TO ALLOW ALL PASSENGERS ROOM FOR THEIR LUGGAGE!
    Far to often people stick their bag in the first place they see, and the people who are going to sit there find no place for their bag when they get to their seat, which slows everything down. Also to those inconsiderate people who throw their little backpacks and toat bags in the overhead taking up space for roller bags, you are the wrong ones, again this article points out they go under the seat in front of you ! Had rude entitled metro dudes chuck 3 “personal” toats in the overhead on longer flights, when asked to move the bags to the under seat area, it went off, on how it had paid for a ticket and it was going to use all the baggage space it wanted to. F/A just rolled her eyes and walked off. Not helpful!

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