May 23, 2024

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Delta is changing the way passengers board effective May 1

Delta is changing the way passengers board effective May 1

Delta Airlines The company is changing its boarding process starting May 1 in an effort to speed up the loading of passengers onto planes.

If you are traveling on the airline, you will need to know the zone number you are in so that you can board the plane in the correct sequence.

This is because Delta offers numbered boarding zones for all flights, meaning customers will have a zone number assigned to them rather than boarding groups labeled by airline status or fare class, such as “Sky Priority.” The airline stressed that boarding orders will not change, but the names of the groups will change.

Customers who require further assistance will continue to pre-board as usual before passengers in Zone 1, which will include Delta One and First Class customers. Zone 2 will include Diamond Medallion members and Delta Premium Select ticket holders.

Delta Comfort+ customers will board in Zone 3, followed by Sky Priority in Zone 4, according to A Schedule On the airline's website. The region's numbers will rise to 8, when basic economy class passengers board.

Delta said the change is small, but it could make the process easier for non-frequent flyers and non-native English speakers who only have to listen to a number to know when it's their turn to board. Delta added that the change will make the process less stressful for gate agents.

However, some travel experts questioned whether this change would meaningfully speed up the boarding process.

“They don't change who gets on the plane when or the sequence,” John Milne, a Clarkson University professor and boarding expert, told CBS MoneyWatch. “All they change is the nameplates of the next group of passengers.”

In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Delta said the “simple change” will provide customers with more clarity on the boarding sequence and make the boarding process more convenient — especially for infrequent flyers and/or customers who may face a language barrier at the gate. “

“The numbered zones will also align more closely with our joint venture and international partners, providing international customers with a simpler and more consistent experience when flying on mixed-metal itineraries,” Delta added.

CEO Ed Bastian addressed the change in the company's first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday. “When you have a number and you're standing in line, we're all trained to know when it's our turn,” Bastian said.

Delta foot branded boarding process in 2018, describing boarding into the area as a “thing of the past” for the airline.

Superficial changes?

The change is fairly superficial, Milne said, noting that there are other changes Delta and its competitors could make to their boarding processes that would make them more efficient.

The airline still gives priority to passengers who have airline status or who have paid a higher fare on a particular flight. Instead, passengers will be more efficiently boarded based on where they are seated on the plane, Milne said.

For example, boarding window-seat customers in the back half of the plane first would speed up the process. “This way you can reduce some of the congestion,” he added.

Instead, Delta assigns passengers to boarding groups based on their loyalty to the airline and ticket prices.

Travel expert Scott Keys also stressed that the change only serves to meaningfully improve or speed up the boarding process. He pointed out that all Delta is doing is returning to the traditional way of boarding passengers and canceling the boarding process that carries its brand, which began in 2018.

“The fact that they are returning to numbered areas, like those used by almost all other airlines, makes a lot of sense,” Keyes said. “Traditionally, Delta has been viewed as the innovative airline and other companies have followed suit. In this case, Delta's innovation did not work, and it was once again forced to emulate the boarding processes of American and United.”

Certainly, any move that would actually speed up passenger boarding could give the airline an advantage over competitors.

“Speeding up the boarding process by even 10 minutes can prevent delays and, if they persist, allow airlines to add an additional daily flight to the schedule,” Keyes said.

The airline reported $37 million in first-quarter profit on Wednesday and said demand for air travel is strong as the busy summer travel season approaches. Travelers are flocking to book flights despite a spate of recent air safety incidents, including a panel explosion Boeing A 737 Max during an Alaska Airlines flight.

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