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Old Sep 14, 08, 7:06 pm   #1
 
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Exclamation Delta Zone Boarding - Mystery

I've been reading a lot lately about Delta's zone boarding and all of the "experts" say that, other than zones 1 & 2, the rest board from the back of the plane, to the front. Do these people ever fly Delta? Here is my experience. I fly Delta at least twice a month.

There is no rhyme or reason behind their boarding. Friday I flew from ATL to DFW in seat 22F - I checked in 24 hours ahead of time and my zone was 5. Today I checked into my flight tomorrow from DFW to ATL in seat 22F and I'm zone 8. ...?

Now, I've also flown several times with a friend, who was seated next to me. We have never been in the same zone. Sometimes we're 2 zones difference. I've been in Zone 8 several times lately and there are people in front of me (who are also in zone 8) who head to the back of the plane.

Does Delta or anyone really have any clue what the zones mean?

Last edited by mfullmer; Sep 14, 08 at 7:29 pm. Reason: Clarity.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 7:36 pm   #2
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Mainline:
Zone 1 - First Class, bulkhead rows
Zone 2 - Medallions in front of coach
Zone 3 - Medallions in back of coach
Zone 4-9 - no real idea, normally on the plane by this point.

RJs with F:
Zone 1 - First
Zone 2 - Medallions
Zone 3-? (I think 5...) - coach

RJ with 70 seats:
Zone 1 - Medallions
Zones 2-5 - coach

RJ with 50 seats:
Zone 1 - Medallions, back 1/3rd of coach
Zone 2 - middle of coach
Zone 3 - front 1/3rd of coach
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Old Sep 14, 08, 7:41 pm   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfullmer View Post
Now, I've also flown several times with a friend, who was seated next to me. We have never been in the same zone.
There are several plausible answers for this, including the notion that one would want to load the window seat (perhap you) before the center or aisle (your friend).

I haven't seen DL make public its plan aircraft by aircraft, but it doesn't logically follow that DL lacks a plan.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 7:55 pm   #4
 
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Question No real answer?

Interesting replies that pretty much said nothing. It's nice that medallions get to board first and don't have to deal with their inconsistent boardings. Regarding the windows first, yes, that seem like it might be a logical way to load. However, when my friend travels with me and he's in the middle seat, me in the window, yet my zone is after him? That just doesn't make sense.

Delta may have some sort of "plan" but whoever designed it was an idiot or has not kept up with it to see if it's working. I would render that it's an algorythem that has gone awry. When Delta first came out with it in '04 it actually worked well. Now it's just totally random.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 8:02 pm   #5
 
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I'm ST1 (CO) and on my last (and only, so far) DL flight I was in zone 3 on a CRJ-700 and zone 1 (752). The latter BP had "Breezeway" on it, the former did not.

By mersk862's list both were wrong. The former should have been zone 1 and the latter zone 2.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 8:22 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfullmer View Post
Interesting replies that pretty much said nothing. It's nice that medallions get to board first and don't have to deal with their inconsistent boardings. Regarding the windows first, yes, that seem like it might be a logical way to load. However, when my friend travels with me and he's in the middle seat, me in the window, yet my zone is after him? That just doesn't make sense.

Delta may have some sort of "plan" but whoever designed it was an idiot or has not kept up with it to see if it's working. I would render that it's an algorythem that has gone awry. When Delta first came out with it in '04 it actually worked well. Now it's just totally random.
There could also be the pax who board with zone 2, even though their BP says 7. As soon as they call Zone 1, the whole plane jumps up and stands in front of the door...so I imagine there are a lot of GA that could care less if said pax is boarding in the correct zone (outside of zone 1).
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Old Sep 14, 08, 9:12 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfullmer View Post
Interesting replies that pretty much said nothing...
How polite.

Your anecdotal evidence from two times per month is really insufficient to conclude that DL has no clue.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 9:16 pm   #8
 
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One thing that is quite obviously broken is that the number of passengers who board per zone is so fluid. Its fine if you want if all elites of all levels are to be given priority, but when you have 70-80 passengers boarding in zone 2 (on a 757) as I had last week, it really just leads to chaos. The GA on the flight was apologetic about how many people were being called in that zone.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 9:22 pm   #9
 
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I always thought for non-medallions, the further back you were, the lower your Zone.

If this is true, I wonder how efficient that system is compared to either boarding front first or window out. By boarding the back first, in theory people get out of the way quicker so you have less bottlenecks. However these days, if people stow their luggage up above early on and then go to their seat, that leaves the non-medallions up front with no bag space, forcing them to stow them in the back.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 9:34 pm   #10
 
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I always find it funny that when the flight is running late, they always say that they don't have time for zone boarding and they are just going to board by rows.
I thought zone boarding's whole purpose was to make it quicker.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 9:58 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by pbiflyer View Post
I always find it funny that when the flight is running late, they always say that they don't have time for zone boarding and they are just going to board by rows.
I thought zone boarding's whole purpose was to make it quicker.
Thank you for bringing that up. I've had that happen several times too. (Afterall very few Delta flights leave out of ATL on time.)

I've been on a few AirTran flights lately and I'm really liking them. Plus the chance for anyone to upgrade, if available, is very cool.
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Old Sep 14, 08, 10:38 pm   #12
 
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I generally don't pay a whole lot of attention to boarding issues (I'm usually arriving at the gate from the CRC at about zone 4-5 with my Zone 1-3 Boarding pass). But occasionally I'll get on board and notice how people are laid out on board when I get there (again usually about half-way through the boarding process).

So I'll take a crack at this (totally theoretically based on my observations). On the smaller mainline planes (say 737s and MD88s, I think it's a combination of back of the plane and windows first).

On larger planes, I think that the do sort of a back/front thing, but still with some windows first. If they simultaneously have people boarding in the back and in middle-front, the people in the back are lined up waiting for others to put something in the overhead, somebody in the middle of the plane could be stuffing something in the overhead and sitting down. So it might make be that they have zone 4 (right after elites) be the back several rows, then have zone 5 be somewhere at about the middle going forward, or perhaps some overlap in the zones (send 2/3 of zone 4 to the back, and 1/3 to the middle, etc.).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfullmer View Post
Regarding the windows first, yes, that seem like it might be a logical way to load. However, when my friend travels with me and he's in the middle seat, me in the window, yet my zone is after him? That just doesn't make sense.
You're absolutely right, this would never make sense and the only reasonable explanation that I can think of would be that your friend has elite status (zone 2 or 3), thus could board before you. I can't imagine they would plan for a window seat to board after an adjacent middle seat after medallion boarding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbiflyer View Post
I always find it funny that when the flight is running late, they always say that they don't have time for zone boarding and they are just going to board by rows.
I thought zone boarding's whole purpose was to make it quicker.
This one is easy. As others have mentioned in this thread, there are often flights where there are so many elites that half the plane gets to board in zones 2 and 3. There's no doubt that allowing elites to board first slows down the process. The zone 4-9 process is set up to make boarding faster. I'd be willing to bet that when the agent says that they are scrapping the zone system and boarding by row, it's because the random Medallion boarding would slow the process too much when the flight needs to be boarded quickly. While boarding back to front is slower than the zone system (zones 4-9), it's faster than completely random boarding. I'm sure PBI has a similar glut of Medallions as Tampa, with resulting flights with dozens of elites.
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Old Sep 15, 08, 8:15 am   #13
 
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Delta uses (or has experimented with) a tandem system on some larger planes. Imagine that zone numbers were consecutive from back to front. Then a tandem system might go 1, 4, 2, 5, 3, 6.

The aim is to have two or three areas of stowing instead of just one which in the traditional back to front system works, as you would guess, slowly from back to front.

Ideally there should be stowing all up and down the aisle but no one has figured out a system for this yet. (Not counting non-systems such as someone seated in the back putting his carry-ons up front.)
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Old Sep 15, 08, 12:11 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfullmer View Post
Interesting replies that pretty much said nothing.
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Old Sep 15, 08, 12:37 pm   #15
 
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I have heard different things, back of the plane near the windows, back of the plane near the aisles, I guess it is probably just random.
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