New ATL boarding process Thursday

Old Feb 20, 20, 4:18 pm
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New ATL boarding process Thursday

Boarding DL 889 to MCO today and there was a new boarding process they’re testing. They had a group of people at tables before you got to the gate and you had to give them your name.

They then give you a number and you board with that group within your group. I was in seat 20a and got a 4, so I guess I was the 4th group in comfort plus to board.

Talked to an employee at the door that said we were the 3rd flight that they tested and that the 2nd flight pushed back 15 minutes early. We started loading at 5:35 and were done by 6:10. Didn’t seem to make a difference.

Anyone else have their flight selected?
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Old Feb 20, 20, 4:38 pm
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Any insights on who was in what group or did it seem to be randomized boarding? C+ is the 4th, 5th or 6th group anyway nowadays behind handicapped, military, F, DM/360, and families with children although the latter sometimes is after c+. Was priority boarding still given to certain groups?
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Old Feb 20, 20, 4:44 pm
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Originally Posted by The Situation View Post
Any insights on who was in what group or did it seem to be randomized boarding? C+ is the 4th, 5th or 6th group anyway nowadays behind handicapped, military, F, DM/360, and families with children although the latter sometimes is after c+. Was priority boarding still given to certain groups?
Sounds like he was saying that he was the 4th group in C+ so they were breaking down within the groups (i.e., there may have been 5 C+ "groups"). My guess is that they are trying to do optimization within each of the sub-groups they have created because they have shot themselves in the foot with their boarding process. They literally couldn't create a slower boarding system if they tried. Fast boarding systems parallelize the bag stowing and sitdown process by having different people in different parts of the plane board at the same time. Instead, everyone is fighting for the same set of rows. F fights for only 4-5 rows of F seats, C+ fights for only 4-5 rows of C+ seats, Main Cabin 1 fights for the 8 rows of preferred seats, and then Main Cabin 2/3 fights for the last 10 rows of the plane. Oh, and then Basic Economy comes in and makes everyone get up to sit in their middle seat. It's absolutely terrible.

My guess is they are trying to make sure that 1 person from each row boards in each "batch" so that they get more people seated in parallel. Obviously it's just a small pilot and nothing will come of it, but presumably they would ultimately put this on both printed and e-boarding passes and enforce at the gate.

People will revolt, so it won't happen, but they are probably trying to figure out how to optimize an insanely inefficient boarding process while still allowing them to monetize the priority boarding monster they have created.
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Old Feb 20, 20, 5:19 pm
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Weirdly Southwest still boards in the most insane way possible -- first people take many aisles, mostly near front -- and has no problem boarding efficiently.

Why? Because they line people up in a non-stupid way -- unlike all other airlines which refuse to ape the process -- and because FAs proactively help keep overheads organized and full.
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Old Feb 20, 20, 5:48 pm
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Originally Posted by rogo View Post
Weirdly Southwest still boards in the most insane way possible -- first people take many aisles, mostly near front -- and has no problem boarding efficiently.

Why? Because they line people up in a non-stupid way -- unlike all other airlines which refuse to ape the process -- and because FAs proactively help keep overheads organized and full.
I've heard this several times but it is NOT insane. The first to board usually like the front of the plane. They put their carry on luggage in the overhead and sit down. The people later to board head to the back and put their luggage near their seat.

In contrast, on other airlines, aside from some rich people boarding early, the others sitting in the rear board next. They dump their luggage in the overhead bins in the front and middle then head the the back. That is bad.
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Old Feb 20, 20, 6:18 pm
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Well, there is currently Main Cabin 1, 2, 3,... I guess they are effectively trying out C+ 1, 2, 3,... And rather than spending money to have their IT folks develop a program that may not be needed, they are probably testing the waters by doing it manually to see if it would be worthwhile to make the software investment.

But even on wide bodies, there aren’t THAT many C+ seats that you’d need more than 3 groups, and even 3 is a stretch for all but the largest birds. I get it, C+ is often a pretty large group, especially if all DMs clear upgrades to F.

But if DL is seriously going to aggregate C+ into more than 2 groups, what are they going to do about the giant Main Cabin 1 that typically includes most FOs, Amex holders, and other pax with early boarding benefits. That is the largest boarding group on average by far it seems.

Last edited by kavok; Feb 20, 20 at 7:05 pm
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Old Feb 20, 20, 6:42 pm
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The problem is that boarding through the forward door, having people seated in the first rows, e.g. F, C+ on domestic single aisles, could not be less efficient. But, boarding in random groups, which is much more efficient, might deprive some ever-so-important nobody of being able to strut in front of others. So, it's a no go.

This is a labor-intensive half measure.
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Old Feb 20, 20, 7:01 pm
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My gut instinct is that micromanaging the order in which people in each group get on will only add time and confuse people. If you assume that maintaining the recognition aspect of the boarding order is the most important part to DL, then it's a tough nut to crack. I would recommend two small changes:

1. Let PMs board with C+, since in theory they should get C+ at booking if available anyway. At stations like ATL, this will lead to some folks in the C+ boarding group going further back.
2. Let folks with the Reserve card board with SKY (realistically they probably aren't in Main 1 anyway, but there may be a decent number of FOs with Reserves).

Past that... I don't know what can be changed and still make people feel good about what they paid for or how far they flew. Maybe on some of the flights from ATL that are known to be bad (e.g. 757s), start boarding through the rear door as well?
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Old Feb 20, 20, 7:21 pm
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As FO with Reserve who never carries anything on, I always try to board as late as possible anyway unless in F. Y'all can fight over it.

First on and first off...so do you want to be on the plane, or not? Last on and first off would be most preferable, thank you!
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Old Feb 20, 20, 7:22 pm
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Originally Posted by VFR View Post
My gut instinct is that micromanaging the order in which people in each group get on will only add time and confuse people. If you assume that maintaining the recognition aspect of the boarding order is the most important part to DL, then it's a tough nut to crack. I would recommend two small changes:

1. Let PMs board with C+, since in theory they should get C+ at booking if available anyway. At stations like ATL, this will lead to some folks in the C+ boarding group going further back.
2. Let folks with the Reserve card board with SKY (realistically they probably aren't in Main 1 anyway, but there may be a decent number of FOs with Reserves).

Past that... I don't know what can be changed and still make people feel good about what they paid for or how far they flew. Maybe on some of the flights from ATL that are known to be bad (e.g. 757s), start boarding through the rear door as well?
Theoretically if they did ComfortPlus1 and ComfortPlus2, Delta would offer the same “recognition incentive”, with it being split into separate groups. How you differentiate on who gets in C+1 & C+2 is another discussion, but perhaps paid C+ in the first group and upgraded C+ in the other, to incentivize medallions to buy up?

As to your other suggestion, maybe they could create Sky1 and Sky2? With Sky1 being PM&GM, and Sky2 being FO and Amex reserve. In that case, effectively Sky2 is people currently boarding in Main1, but doing that would help split up the massive Main1 group. It also would incentivize infrequent flyers to get to FO or get the Reserve Amex, while still keeping the “early” boarding in Main1 for the other Amex Card holders.
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Old Feb 20, 20, 7:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The problem is that boarding through the forward door, having people seated in the first rows, e.g. F, C+ on domestic single aisles, could not be less efficient. But, boarding in random groups, which is much more efficient, might deprive some ever-so-important nobody of being able to strut in front of others. So, it's a no go.

This is a labor-intensive half measure.
it's actually having everyone else strut in front of the ever-so-important person. while he or she sips the PDC he or she is entitled to
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Old Feb 20, 20, 8:21 pm
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Originally Posted by gitismatt View Post
it's actually having everyone else strut in front of the ever-so-important person. while he or she sips the PDC he or she is entitled to
It’s also POS airplanes like the 737 and A320/1/19 which can only board through 1L.

Make another plane like the 757 that can have F turn one way and Y/+ turn the other and many of these issues are alleviated. The 739 and A321 are probably the slowest aircraft to board. I’ve been on A380s that have boarded considerably faster.
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Old Feb 20, 20, 8:29 pm
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Originally Posted by vendsit View Post
Boarding DL 889 to MCO today and there was a new boarding process they’re testing. They had a group of people at tables before you got to the gate and you had to give them your name.

They then give you a number and you board with that group within your group. I was in seat 20a and got a 4, so I guess I was the 4th group in comfort plus to board.

Talked to an employee at the door that said we were the 3rd flight that they tested and that the 2nd flight pushed back 15 minutes early. We started loading at 5:35 and were done by 6:10. Didn’t seem to make a difference.

Anyone else have their flight selected?
This sounds a bit like the Southwest procedure of lining up by number. No thanks.
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Old Feb 20, 20, 8:36 pm
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Originally Posted by rogo View Post
Weirdly Southwest still boards in the most insane way possible -- first people take many aisles, mostly near front -- and has no problem boarding efficiently.

Why? Because they line people up in a non-stupid way -- unlike all other airlines which refuse to ape the process -- and because FAs proactively help keep overheads organized and full.
I think one of the major differences with Southwest is that they still include two bags in the ticket price. Between that and my supposition that they cater to a higher percentage of leisure travelers, it results in less carry-on luggage going in the overhead bin which speeds up boarding compared to the legacies.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The problem is that boarding through the forward door, having people seated in the first rows, e.g. F, C+ on domestic single aisles, could not be less efficient. But, boarding in random groups, which is much more efficient, might deprive some ever-so-important nobody of being able to strut in front of others. So, it's a no go.

This is a labor-intensive half measure.
Boarding early, for me at least, has nothing to do with feeling important and everything to do with finding space for my bag, preferably above my seat or a few rows in front so I don't have to gate check it or "swim upstream" to retrieve it when we land.

Originally Posted by matchbox20_is View Post
As FO with Reserve who never carries anything on, I always try to board as late as possible anyway unless in F. Y'all can fight over it.

First on and first off...so do you want to be on the plane, or not? Last on and first off would be most preferable, thank you!
Agreed! If I check my luggage and I'm in coach, I try to be as close as possible to the last person on the plane.
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Old Feb 20, 20, 11:51 pm
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Originally Posted by rogo View Post
Weirdly Southwest still boards in the most insane way possible -- first people take many aisles, mostly near front -- and has no problem boarding efficiently.

Why? Because they line people up in a non-stupid way -- unlike all other airlines which refuse to ape the process -- and because FAs proactively help keep overheads organized and full.
Is Delta incredibly slow? Yes. Do I prefer having elite boarding and assigned seats? Also yes.

And, how does the pilot program handle people who arrive after boarding begins? On southwest you're sort of boned, but if I'm flying without an overhead bag I might stay in the lounge longer.

Originally Posted by mattp1987 View Post
I think one of the major differences with Southwest is that they still include two bags in the ticket price.
I agree that helps the situation. And helps he anxiety of worrying about finding overhead space if you are carrying on, since more people are checking bags.
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