United Simplifies Boarding Process to Reduce Gate-Hugging

Starting today, United passengers may notice a few minor tweaks to boarding procedures.

Nothing too radical. Instead of five boarding lanes, United will scale back to just two, with one lane for priority and the other for economy passengers.

The move comes after prompting from both passengers and United staff. "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."

Also included in these changes: MileagePlus Premier 1K flyers will now pre-board rather than board with group 1, and MileagePlus Premier Gold are now bumped to group one from two. United co-branded credit card holders will remain in group two. Active duty military passengers will now be invited to pre-board along with uniformed military members.

These changes will help to declutter the boarding area, discouraging economy passengers in groups three, four, and five from gate-hugging, or at least that's the intention.

Passengers who have downloaded the United app will be summoned to the gate via an alert system when it's time to board, and there are plans to later include text notifications.

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