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.