United introduces a new boarding process

United Airlines is expanding enhancements to its boarding at gates in airports around the world. The updated better boarding process gives customers more space at the gate, less time waiting in line and improved boarding information to create a less stressful environment.

“The boarding process was one of the top areas customers told us they wanted improved,” said Sarah Murphy, vice president of Global Operations Strategy, Planning and Design at United. “We listened to customers and employees as we tested a variety of processes on thousands of flights until we found a better boarding process that results in less time spent waiting in lines, improved communication and a better way to recognize our Premier® customers while balancing out the number of passengers in each boarding group.”

The improvements start with reducing the number of boarding lanes from five to two, giving customers added space, more time to relax and less time spent in line. With more time, passengers can enjoy a nearby United Club or lounge or airport restaurants and shops before their flight. United app users will also receive a new alert when boarding has begun for their flight, making it easier to know when to make their way to the gate. In the future, United will expand these notifications to text messages. Digital displays in the gate area also keep customers informed with updated helpful boarding information.

United’s enhanced boarding also provides an upgraded experience for some of the airline’s top MileagePlus members. United’s MileagePlus Premier 1K customers who previously boarded in group one, will now be invited to pre-board, and United’s MileagePlus Premier Gold customers will also move up in the boarding process from group two to group one. These changes not only give these customers more time to settle into their seats, but also help balance out the number of customers in each of the airline’s five boarding groups. United is also expanding its military pre-boarding group from uniformed military members to also include all active duty military members to even better recognize those serving our country. Qualifying United credit card holders will continue to receive priority boarding in group two.

United started testing a variety of boarding concepts in the fall of 2017, soliciting feedback from customers and employees along the way. After testing these changes at numerous airports, United received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers and employees who experienced the better boarding process. United began rolling out aspects of this process, including updated signage at select airports across its network earlier this year, and putting it into effect at all gates at Los Angeles International Airport in February. Beginning September 18, the better boarding will appear at over 1,000 gates across the globe.

The feedback from customers and employees was clear: we needed to improve our boarding process. As part of our ongoing efforts to put customers at the center of everything we do, we identified boarding as an opportunity to improve the airport experience. We tested a variety of different boarding processes on thousands of flights across multiple airports.

Better Boarding consists of three key improvements

Less time in line:

By reducing the number of boarding lanes, there is more space for customers to enjoy the gate areas, many of which have been completely remodeled with more comfortable seating and in some airports, the ability to have food and drinks from within the airport delivered directly to the gate area. Over the years, we have invested millions of dollars in our terminals, and now with less time spent standing in line, customers will have more time to dine, shop, relax, work or enjoy a United Club℠.

Simplified gate layout

Say goodbye to the five long lines we see today

Group 1 will board through the blue lane.

Group 2 will board through the green lane, followed by groups 3, 4, and 5.

Two groups on each side of sign indicating lanes 1 (blue) and 2 (green)

Late arriving customers in Group 1 and 2 will use the blue lane.

Customers in groups 3, 4, and 5 always use the green lane.

Better information:

We are providing customers with more information throughout the boarding process so that they feel more at ease, and more equipped with the latest information about their flight. Customers with the United app can receive a push notification once their flight starts boarding. Customers will only receive the notification if they’ve opted in for push notifications and have a mobile boarding pass in the app’s wallet.

Enhanced communications

Be in the know about boarding

Mobile phone and smartwatch with boarding notificationsCustomers will receive boarding notifications through the United app (if they’ve opted in for notifications).

Gate information display with boarding instructions for group 1-2 through lane 1 (blue) and group 3-4 through lane 2 (green)Improved gate area digital signage to guide customers through boarding.

Balanced groups and better recognition:

United MileagePlus® Premier 1K® customers will now pre-board and United MileagePlus Premier Gold customers will be boarding in Group 1. For more information on our boarding groups, visit: https://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/travel/airport/boarding-process.aspx

Improved premier customer recognition

We’re happy to make them happy

Premier passenger in front of boarding line

Improved premier recognition and better positioning of customers to create balanced boarding groups.

The new Better Boarding process is just one of the steps we are taking to improve the customer experience. We will continue to collect feedback from customers on ways we can further improve boarding and you may receive a post-travel survey to tell us more about your experience.

All images by United Airlines.

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