The trials and errors of the New UNITED - UA to change boarding process back!

ua_logo Looks like UNITED got hit with some feedback regarding the “new” boarding process that they started a few weeks back.


UNITED posted on it’s facebook page this message

“We’ve been listening to your feedback about the recent boarding changes and starting June 8, we’ll return to boarding by zones on United-operated flights. Continental-operated flights will continue to board from the rear to the front, but in the near future, will also begin zone boarding. We will still allow uniformed military to board first followed by Premier/Elite customers premium boarding with a tiered approach.”

I just got done 5 domestic legs and was getting ready to post about how long boarding was taking. I talked with every agent working the boarding door, and they all reported that it was so hard to get the flights out on time. Each time the agents were ready to start boarding they all got an card with a script on it out of their pockets and tried to explain the process.. It was a mess.. the Red/Blue carpet boarding was working ok for the most part.. Each agent called for uniformed military personel to board first, then they welcomed UNITED Global Service Members, UNITED First, UNITED 1K’s, Continental Presidential Platinum and Continental Platinum. Then they called form anyone who had “Premier Line” printed on their boarding card to also board at anytime via the Red/Blue carpet. Then the mess boarding by the row numbers. People were all over the place. When boarding the gate aisle was always filled in the back.  

I think one major problem is that this new Premier Line includes so many people, down to the * Silver status. All these people boarding at once are just clogging up the isle. I think early boarding should be limited to *G and higher as having UA Premier, and Star Silver from every Star Airline is just too many people.

So it looks like someone at UNITED is listening, but if the new UA policy is “lets try it and see how many people it pisses off” it is going to be a long and painful process. 


Nick June 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Here is the official announcement on the flyer boards:

Hi Everyone, Thank you for all of your feedback regarding our recent changes to the boarding process. Let there be no question - we are listening to you and our co-workers, and will continue to make changes to our business as a direct result. The new boarding process we recently rolled out will be one of those examples.

Here’s what we’re doing, starting next week…

  1. We’re reinstating zone boarding on the United side. Beginning Jun. 8, United will return to boarding by zones. Among other things, this should directly improve the experience for the folks who purchase Economy Plus by ensuring they aren’t in the last boarding group. In addition, we’ve found a way for our combined airline to support zone boarding, and expect to introduce zone boarding to Continental in the coming year.

  2. We’re simplifying the announcements. Also on Jun. 8, we’ll be adjusting our announcements to be simpler, shorter, and create better separation throughout the Elite boarding process. While all premier customers will continue to use the carpeted lane, we intend to manage this better through these new announcements. Uniformed Military and Global Services members will be invited to board as part of the preliminary announcement. Then we will board First Class along with 1K and Platinum members, followed by Business Class (on three-cabin aircraft), followed by Premier Executive and Gold members, followed by Premier and Silver members.

Also in the coming months, we’ll be in the field testing some concepts aimed at further reducing congestion on the carpet during Elite boarding. We’re committed to making this process work, and we hear you loud and clear.

Thanks as always for your feedback.

Scott O’Leary Managing Director, Customer Solutions United Airlines

Ken 747-400 June 3, 2011 at 02:47 am

Hasn't O'Leary heard of focus groups? Why didn't they run the initial change in boarding process idea by a focus group of elite fliers? Poor planning & decision making, isn't it?

Patricia Kelly June 14, 2011 at 06:39 pm

It does seem that charging people for checked bags is an adverse solution to boarding any plane. Charge people for their carry-on's and the boarding process will change. I am a Premiere Exec and I don't carry on. If I am traveling overseas, I don't carry on anything bigger than a SMALL daypack. It's too cumbersome, takes too much time, is unnecessary and annoys people. I am especially annoyed by people who place their bags in an overhead that is NOT over their seat.

Nick June 14, 2011 at 11:54 pm

@Patricia Kelley: I am with you on checking bags. Unfortunately I can't fault some people for placing carry-ons away from their seat when people who have boarded earlier have taken up the space trying to get their bags near the seat. I'll actually be talking about the topic of carry-on baggage in a post next week.