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Delta Changes Its Boarding Procedure

Starting next year, Delta Air Lines passengers will board according to a color-coded system based on fare class rather than by seat assignment. Travelers with elite status will still be given priority boarding in most cases, but many Platinum and Gold Medallion members will now board after passengers booked in the Delta Comfort Plus cabin.

Early next year, Delta Air Lines will “simplify” its boarding process. This week, the legacy carrier unveiled a new color-coded “branded boarding” process. Passengers will now be called to board by specific ticket class rather than zone.

Instead of a pre-boarding call, the first passengers will board in the Delta One group. Next, Delta First Class flyers will be called to the jetway. In a departure from the previous zone boarding system, Delta Comfort Plus customers will have their own boarding position. Only then will main cabin economy class passengers be called to line up for their flight. Delta Basic Economy Class flyers will, of course, board only after everyone else is already on the plane.

Airline officials say the new scheme for boarding aircraft has received positive feedback from customers during numerous test runs. According to the company, “Boarding zones for Delta-operated flights worldwide will be renamed to reflect the branded fare purchased, while still prioritizing customer loyalty. As a result, Delta will increase the number of boarding groups to encourage fewer customers to line up in the gate area at any one time.”

Delta hasn’t forgotten its most loyal flyers. Diamond Medallion members will still board with Delta One passengers in the first group. The airline has also created a sort of catchall “Sky Priority” boarding group for other passengers with status or branded credit cards. The Sky Priority group will board after Delta Comfort Plus ticket-holders.

“Every customer values consistency and a sense of knowing what to expect when they’re traveling,” Delta Senior CMO Tim Mapes said in a statement announcing the new boarding process. “We have been listening to our customers about the stress they often feel at the gate before boarding, and implementing small changes for years. This latest enhancement further refines how Delta’s process works and is designed to better link the Delta product they purchased to differentiated experiences throughout their journey.”

The new system is also expected to have interactive features which will allow flyers to eventually monitor the boarding process in real-time from mobile devices. Should the new features work as advertised, the system could very well help to keep the gate lice staring at their cellphones and away from the boarding area until it’s time to queue up.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
Logan_monday December 20, 2018

Platinum here with a 15 year history of gold/1k etc on Delta/UA and others... When you pay up, you move up. If you are loyal and book early, the airline moves you up ahead of time. If you book late, you get what you get. Boarding after the small number of E+ folks and before the rest is hardly a burden. Most of the time I'll be there anyway and when I'm not, I'll still get room for my bag. And next year when I'm not Plat anymore because I got to spend more time with my family this year, I'll just pay up for the e+ seat.. and I'll get upgraded to first more often on my higher fare class. Nothing to see here.

Dockdogs December 15, 2018

So Really You want to Board LAST. But also be sure you have overhead space. How can we make that happen these days as as loyalty member?

sdsearch December 14, 2018

emkn45, I don't understand your complaint about my post. I was not commenting on Delta's policy AT ALL. I was commenting on the LAST PARAGRAPH in the ARTICLE ABOVE which claims that the boarding order being available on the Delta app could somehow result in the elimination of the gate lice issue. I was commenting on that paragraph of the article and NOTHING MORE, and I thought that would be obvious to someone who had read the article through to the end. But I guess if you hadn't read the article through to the end, you might not have understood what I was referring to, sorry. I should have made it more clear what exactly I was commenting on.

Zacnlinc December 13, 2018

Gate Lice and people boarding our out ther zone don’t care about these changes as long as the GA are not enforcing the rules!

spartacus December 12, 2018

It's another way to get that E-plus revenue. Cue up Cuba Gooding, Jr. shouting, "Show me the money!" I did appreciate during a recent trip being invited to board first as a military veteran. Not sure if that was just for Veteran's Day travel, but it was only offered for the ATL-BRU flight.