American has been in the news lately for many reasons. First, they were selected as the airline of the year by Air Transport World. Then, they introduced Basic Economy Fares, which will begin to be sold on February 10th. Finally, they released data on how Elite Systemwide Upgrades would work on Premium Economy Equipped aircraft. Well, now they are at it again. Per One Mile at a Time, the airline will modify their boarding procedure in the upcoming weeks.
What it looks like now
American recently updated their boarding process, in order to recognize Concierge Key Members. This meant that they would board first, and then a systematic boarding would proceed. As of today, the boarding process looks like this:
As you can see, it seems to be quite confusing, as many people have priority on their boarding pass. This means that it is difficult for gate agents to recognize who actually has the priority level they are calling. Agents are usually in a rush, and it is difficult for them to keep people from entering at the wrong time.
The new format is even more complex, but more intuitive. The new system has 9 groups (10 if you add Concierge Key pre-boarding). This means that agents will be able to see the numbers more easily, and be able turn away people who try to cut. The issue is that those who used to have group 1, now get group 4. Basic Economy will be group 9. Just the number of groups to me is amazing! I can imagine a gate agent calling “We are now ready to board Group 9” at an airport and it sounding funny. Here is a breakdown of the new boarding process:
I do appreciate the airline’s effort to make boarding more efficient. The new system will give more noticeable priority to those who have it. My concern, as is the one OMAAT says, is that those who pay out of pocket for priority boarding board in group 4. If I had paid for that perk, and then told that I was group 4, I would be both confused and a bit upset. Nonetheless, I see the system as been more intuitive for gate agents, and will allow passengers to better understand when to board. This, in turn, could reduce clutter at the boarding line. We will see how Basic Economy Passengers will feel about the group 9 thing.
What do you think? Do you like American’s new boarding process, or do you prefer the old one?