United Eliminates Boarding Pens and New American Airlines First Class Lite Bites

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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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  1. The issue with United now that If you don’t have group 2 boarding or lower you can’t line up to attempt to secure your overhead space, you have to hover around the back of the group 2 boarding and then when they call group 3 make a dash for the front. I guess it will help their credit card applications though.

  2. From what I have been reading, I have to have some concern about the state of today’s aircraft engines. It does matter who built them, I openly wonder if we are pushing the engines beyond its capabilities.

  3. Not in the video, I received mail today saying that as a Premier Gold (yeah, I know, I’ve fallen behind) I will now board with Group 1. Are they going to call 1K and Platinum as part of pre-boarding now, or is Group 1 going to be a huge zoo on commuter routes?

  4. Oh heck, just when I’m 1000 miles from lifetime Platinum and was looking forward to boarding with the 1K’s, now I’m back in line with the Golds! What about credit card holders? Are they in group 1 still?

  5. ‘We listened.’ ‘Our employees ‘jumped into action.’ Imagine that. Two lanes,. Two colors,. Too easy. And so too infantile. Back to the future with United. You cannot make up the embarrassing corporate world. How much did they pay a consultant to come up with the old idea? Probably it was Senor El Hefe Oscar Munoz himself. He needed the cash to pay for the fine he received for stealing public sand to fix up his Florida beach estate.

  6. United is going to the two-lane boarding arrangement that American uses (surprise). That system will not deliver the benefits United thinks it will primarily because people do not stay seated until their group is called. They crowd around the entrance to the boarding lanes even before boarding begins making it difficult for those in the first groups to get through the scrum. If United solves that problem, more power to them. The one time I flew United recently, its old system seemed to work well.

  7. Today I was Group 1 late boarding. I went to the Group 1 lane and everyone in the Green lane got mad at me. Sucks. DL does this a bit better.

  8. P.S. Also a big part of the problems with boarding is airport design and gate agent workload at US airports. Many gates lack sufficient space and seats to accommodate full flights on narrow bodies much less twin-aisle aircraft. Often gate agents are too busy performing other tasks to effectively monitor the boarding line and make timely announcements and update the boarding group on the displays at the gate. At many airports in Asia, boarding is fast and hassle free because gates are large and some agents are dedicated to ensuring that passengers are lined up properly. Until airport design improves, the number of passengers decreases, or gate agents are able to devote their attention sufficiently to ensuring efficient boarding, the number of lanes, the composition of the groups, or anything else won’t make much difference.

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