American Airlines has updated its rules have been tightened to require customers to be at the gate earlier, and to board flights earlier.
As Zach Griff uncovered, American now requires:
- Customers on domestic flights to be at the gate 30 minutes prior to flight, instead of the previous 15 minutes
- Customers on international flights to be at the gate 45 minutes prior to flight, instead of the previous 30 minutes
- Boarding to end 15 minutes prior to departure, instead of doors close 10 minutes out.
These are measures that will encourage on-time departures at the expense of passengers.
Doors Close 15 Minutes To Departure Will Mean More People Miss More Flights
With inbound connections running late, I’ve had to run for my share of flights. In February I wrote about arriving for a flight home at 11 minutes to departure and finding the door closed. The agent opened it for me. (There are 3 cases where gate agents are supposed to hold the boarding door even when it’s time to close.)
Requiring Passengers To Show Up At the Gate Earlier Doesn’t Sync With American’s Operation
Requiring passengers to be at their gate 30 minutes prior to departure for a domestic flight and 45 minutes prior to an international flight is absurd for several reasons.
- American Airlines sells connections that are less than 30 minutes, for instance flights arriving and departing the E terminal in Charlotte have a 25 minute minimum connection time (flight number ranges 2950-6099).
- American’s mobile app push boarding notifications that were added back in the fall are meant to allow customers not to be in the gate area until boarding commences. That’s frequently inside of the 30 minute domestic window, and it can take several minutes to get from a club to the gate (once clubs re-open, of course).
- American fails to properly update departure times based on knowledge of certain delays. Flights may be ’30 minutes to departure’ even when they don’t take off for two hours. And as the airline runs through rolling delays, 5-15 minutes at a time, taken literally this rule would mean that customers couldn’t ever leave the gate during hours-long delays.
Requiring passengers to spend more time congregating in cramped gate areas is the opposite direction from where the airline should be moving in the current era which calls for greater social distancing.