United Airlines: Business travellers board before families

By John Walton, May 24 2012

Business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers now get the jump on families with children when it comes to boarding United Airlines flights.

USA Today reports that United has now joined  American Airlines and US Airways in giving boarding priority to 'premium class' passengers  over families, who must wait their turn and board with everyone else according to their frequent flyer status and ticket class.

Other airlines, Virgin America and Delta, still follow on the 'families first' policy

United adopted the policy "to simplify the boarding process and to reduce the overall number of boarding groups," United spokesman Charles Hobart told USA Today.

Business travellers may welcome the move to stop familiy pre-boarding, as families with numerous bags no longer get to fill up the luggage bins before everyone else gets a go.

On the other hand, the obvious question is whether this will lead to infrequently flying families holding up the boarding queue while they stow all those bags (and the kids), delaying the flight.

(You might also be interested in the Steffen Method, a novel scientific way of setting a boarding order according to a computer algorithm.) 

What do you think: should premium passengers or families board first?

John Walton
John Walton

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

driley28

driley28

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 May 2012

Total posts 371

Premium frequent flyers should board before everyone else.  Another pet hate of mine is customers who are not top tier frequent flyers or flying business/first lining up in the premium boarding queue.

am

am

15 Apr 2011

Total posts 586

Agreed. I also hate when the regular line spills around the gate, making it impossible to push through. Some order would be appreciated...

driley28

driley28

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 May 2012

Total posts 371

Premium frequent flyers should board before everyone else.  Another pet hate of mine is customers who are not top tier frequent flyers or who are not flying business/first lining up in the premium boarding queue.

airtraveladdict

airtraveladdict

24 Oct 2011

Total posts 162

Yes and the worst part is, when they are told to go back to their normal queue and you walk pass them because you are a gold card holder and you get the dirty looks.

I like on Virgin Australia, if you walked up to the premium queue line, the staff immediately stops processing the other pax and attends to you straight away if you are a gold/plat or flying business.

mattdc

mattdc

12 Jul 2011

Total posts 76

If only Qantas would implement this. Wouldn't necessarily mind if they got to board at the same time though. 

am

am

15 Apr 2011

Total posts 586

I always try to board last... Why sit on the plane for half an hour before you leave? I've only had trouble finding space for my bag once (on a domestic 767), but a FA happily stowed it elsewhere for me.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2321

I'm definitely in the 'last to board because I'm soaking up all that lounge goodness' category! Hmmm, a half-hour in the Qantas Business Lounge (domestic) or Qantas First Lounge (International) vs a half-hour in the plane... one more leisurely glass of wine while I polish off a bunch of emails vs sitting in a plane going nowhere. Tough decision (not!).

That said, being short-changed on my overhead bin space peeves me, especially when I pack efficiently carry-on only but people who flout the rules (or common-sense) end up 'stealing' my space... and this happens quite a lot, especially on internaitonal flights when I'm in economy. SO I can see why some passengers would want to be first on in order to snare that space right above their head.


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