Boarding airplanes has long been a source of inconvenience for travelers. It tends to be time-consuming and often causes delays. The need for improvement has been apparent for years now.
Recognizing this profound need, United Airlines has recently issued an internal memo outlining a change in their boarding process, which will go into effect on October 26th.
Introduction of the WILMA Method
This new approach called the WILMA method, which stands for window, middle, and aisle, will be implemented in the coming days to help reduce boarding times.
According to the NY Times, “United has tested the WILMA method at five airports and found it to be effective at reducing boarding times, according to the internal memo. It had used the system before and stopped using it in 2017.”
It’s important to note that this new boarding modification will not impact passengers who traditionally receive priority boarding, such as military personnel, individuals with disabilities, families with young children, and those with priority boarding privileges.
These individuals will still be able to board the aircraft first. The modification will be implemented for those with basic economy tickets who do not fall in any of the priority boarding categories.
For those who do not fall into the usual pre-boarding categories or prefer not to sit in a window seat, there is an alternative way to gain early boarding access, which is to own one of the co-branded United credit cards, which typically offer the benefit of priority boarding.
What the WILMA method really entails is that it will shift United’s boarding groups. Those with pre-boarding or priority boarding will continue to board the aircraft first.
The change will only directly affect those with economy tickets so instead of basic economy tickets boarding by groups based on their seat numbers, they will now board passengers with window seat tickets first, followed by middle seat passengers, and lastly those with aisle seat tickets.
This method will be applied on many domestic and some international flights.
Swift Boarding Right Before the Holiday Season
Overall, United’s new boarding process comes at a great time, with the holiday season just around the corner. This time of year is known for heavy air travel and could greatly benefit from this new change.
United Airlines is hoping that implementing the WILMA method it will help to prevent delays during the busy season, which will assist in ensuring that travelers can reach their desired destination on time.
Potential Outcome of Faster Boarding Times
NY Times wrote, “United’s goal of saving up to two minutes per flight might not sound like a lot, Professor Milne said, but if enough flights board quickly, the benefit adds up. ‘Over the days, weeks, months, and years, potentially where they can make money is if they save enough boarding time that they can have an extra flight during the day,’ he said.”
United’s new procedures could not only save travelers invaluable time but could also save and potentially increase United Airlines’ money in the long run, making it a win-win for both the airline and flyers.
Testing new boarding processes and continuously trying to improve user experience is what makes United one of the leading airlines in the United States.
Although this switch-up may annoy some flyers because overhead bin space will fill up quickly by boarding window seat passengers first regardless of their seat number, frequent travelers are looking forward to seeing if United’s new way of boarding planes speeds things up.
Those who fly often hope it works well and that other airlines will follow suit so everyone can spend less time waiting to get on their flights and more time enjoying the overall flight experience.
This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex. Photo Credit: [@Boarding2Now/DepositPhotos]
Abby and Sam Price are the founders and storytellers behind Trekking Prices, a couple's travel and outdoor adventure blog. They are passionate about sharing their travels, tips, and recommendations with others.