American Airlines Tests New Boarding Process

AA1Today is Twitter’s seventh birthday and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how much this microblogging tool has grown in such a short time and how powerful it has become in sharing information. Especially in light of something that’s happened recently.

Last Saturday, I was flying from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles and while milling around the gate area, I heard a surprising announcement from the gate next door. The agents were offering passengers without carry-ons except for a personal item to board the plane early, after first class and the elite frequent fliers.

TwitterI thought this was interesting so I sent this simple tweet: “I wonder if @AmericanAir is testing out a new boarding procedure. They just invited those without carry-ons to board 2nd.” Not surprisingly, American Airlines’social media team responded within minutes: “We know that the WAS airports were trying a new boarding system, John, but we hadn’t heard that FLL was too.”

I retweeted their statement and a few days later, Genevieve Shaw Brown (@gsbrownabc) from ABC News contacted me for a quote. After her story ran today, it’s been picked up by numerous news agencies including CNNThe Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Daily Mail (U.K.) and I just got a call from NBC News. That’s truly amazing and just shows the kind of power Twitter has.

As far as American’s new boarding procedure goes, I think it makes sense. Alaska, Southwest and Frontier have all been doing it for a while and it seems to work. Two main reasons it makes sense? It speeds up the boarding process and it incentivizes people to check their bags, which is a source of revenue for the airline.

What do you think? Do you like the idea of allowing those without carry-ons to board before the general public?

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Twitter! If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be getting so much press.

Johnny Jet

About the Author

Johnny Jet
I used to be afraid to fly and at times even leave the house! I conquered my fear (long story) and now I travel to 20+ countries a year sharing my firsthand knowledge, tips and deals with friends, family and readers. Please sign up to our free newsletters and tell your friends!

7 Comments on "American Airlines Tests New Boarding Process"

  1. theblakefish | March 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Reply

    Thanks for your great blog posts, Johnny…and for your lack of credit card hawking. Makes for a believable and enjoyable read every day. :)

  2. I don’t really see the advantage. I’m usually not in any big hurry to get on the plane and sit there in the tiny seat when I can be in the roomy terminal. If people without carry-ons are boarding before me, they’re not taking up overhead bin space that I might lose by boarding later either. If the airlines think it’s a good idea, great, but I don’t really see the point.

  3. Actually, unless boarding earlier impacts my seat assignment, I’m never really in a hurry to board. Since the stowing of bags is usually the main soirce of delay, I would be inclined to let those with bags board first. I favor the rear-to-front boarding order, with flight attendants parked along the way to diligently ensure that people with seat assignments in the rear do not stow their bags in overhead bins at the front of the aircraft. If everyone makes their way to the general vicinity of their seats, with rear seat assignments going in first, more people can work on stowing their bags at one time.

  4. I always wait until the last call of the boarding process. I don’t want my 5 and 2 yr old daughters on the plane any longer than they need to be. I’d rather see a different program for unloading the plane. Let the parents with screaming kids off first. Also tired of people standing up and banging people in the head when removing their luggage in the overhead bins.

  5. The news articles I saw reported that the boarding process was decreased by two or three minutes. Is that really significant? Hardly when those who have checked their bags (and paid to do so!) will have to wait much longer than that at the baggage claim. I don’t see the point at all.

  6. Not sure how this would work with Southwest and their open seating.

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