United Airlines Set to Revamp Passenger Boarding
United Airlines is making changes to its passenger boarding. It will soon take into account the seat preferences of economy passengers. An internal memo from United Airlines, reported by The New York Times, outlines these upcoming changes.
According to the memo, passengers will board based on their seat location. This is opposed to the traditional section-based boarding. The new approach is referred to as “WILMA,” an acronym for “window-middle-aisle.” In other words, passengers with window seats will board first. They will be followed by those with middle seats and passengers on the aisle boarding last.
Streamlining passenger boarding.
WILMA is designed to reduce the need for passengers who are already seated to stand up and allow others to pass. This will streamline the boarding process and expedite passenger seating. United Airlines claims that WILMA has saved approximately two minutes during boarding based on their tests.
Pre-boarding for passengers with disabilities, young children, and military personnel will continue as usual. First-class passengers will follow, with the new system only affecting those in economy class.
The new system only affects those in the economy class.
After pre-boarding and premium class boarding, passengers with window seats, exit row seats, and standby seats will board, followed by those with middle seats, and then passengers with aisle seats. This approach could potentially result in middle and aisle seat passengers having to gate-check their bags if overhead bin space is limited, providing an advantage to those with window seats.
Economy passengers with restricted carry-on allowances and passengers without an assigned boarding group number on their boarding passes will board last. The method was tested at four domestic locations and a major hub, according to the Associated Press.
WILMA is not new
This is not the first time United Airlines has experimented with the WILMA boarding process, as they had previously used it before switching to the traditional front-to-back boarding method in 2017, similar to many other domestic airlines, as reported by Conde Nast Traveler.
United Airlines plans to introduce WILMA on domestic and select international flights starting on October 26, according to the Associated Press.