Delta is going to start paying flight attendants for time spent boarding aircraft to coincide with moving up boarding time on domestic mainline narrowbody flights by 5 minutes (although the pay increases apply to flight attendants working all flights).
Starting June 2 Delta will begin boarding for domestic narrowbody aircraft 40 minutes prior to departure. They began testing this with certain flights in November, and continued to board early on test routes since then.
As a result of this change, Delta’s boarding times will be:
- Domestic narrowbody: D-40 (5 minutes earlier)
- Domestic widebody: D-45 (no change)
- Transoceanic: D-50 (no change)
In contrast, American Airlines boards either 30 minutes (smaller narrowbodies like Airbus A319s) or 35 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights. With the addition of seats to Boeing 737s, most domestic flights now board 35 minutes prior to departure.
- Earlier boarding means having to spend more time on the plane if you want overhead bin space.
- Delta lacks the larger overhead bins that help accommodate more bags and reduce (but does not eliminate) the need to fight for bin space. Reserved signs doesn’t solve the issue, either.
- That means getting to the airport earlier, or leaving the lounge earlier. Put another way, it’s customers lining up for the operational convenience of the airline (low cost carrier model) rather than organizing the operation for the convenience of the customer.
As American Airlines moves to single agent boarding for domestic flights that are less than 80% full, Delta is going to expand use of a third agent, according to an internal memo reviewed by View From The Wing, who will operate
in the jet bridge, focusing on hubs and large narrowbody (LNB) aircraft first, and we’ll broaden our testing of ways to incentivize customers to check their cabin bags in the lobby.
Finally, as Delta starts boarding earlier and adds staff to facilitate boarding, they’re going to “expand[…] the practice of leaving when ready…to get an early start when all pre-flight duties are complete, and everyone is ready.” Taken together these changes aim to improve on-time performance.