Prior to March 1, boarding any AA plane was nothing less than a stampede. They’d call First Class, and people seated by the lavatory in the rear would shove their way forward. Priority boarding would be announced, and all of a sudden a wave of credit card holders would present themselves. It was chaotic, and it didn’t acknowledge the true separation in the boarding groups.
Here’s a brief run down of the new boarding process and my observations based on a Washington Dulles to Charlotte flight.
- No classes or status levels are announced. First Class is not announced or called. Instead, its “Group 1.” Nothing more, nothing less.
- I saw a few people who thought they should have been boarding first get frustrated that their Group 5 on their boarding pass didn’t match the first wave of people actually being let on the plane. They assumed they had a higher boarding group, but, in general they stayed put and waited their turn. As soon as “Group 1” and “Group 1” were called you did see several people motion to move, but then stayed where they were realizing their number didn’t match what was being called.
- I saw a few people who were waiting for an announcement for their status level instead of boarding group, but over time they’ll realize that old system doesn’t exist anymore.
- For the most part, people paid attention to the groups on their boarding pass and didn’t move until called. I did see one couple recognize they were in Group 8 and physically step out of the way to allow those in higher groups to board. This is the true spirit of the new process, and it looks like for some people it’s working – they’re recognizing that they aren’t one of the first allowed on and they’re abiding by the rules.
- Gate agents weren’t particularly denying people boarding out of order, but that for the most part, people seemed to be self policing themselves.
Overall, the new system seems to work…for now. I’ll report back on my Milwaukee to Charlotte and Charlotte to Dulles flights today if I see anything dramatically different.
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