United Airlines will implement a revised boarding procedure on October 26, adding a sixth boarding group.
Under the new process, the carrier will board passengers seated in the middle before passengers seated in the aisle.
The new boarding procedure was tested at a United hub airport and four smaller airports, United said in a memo, and was found to be faster than the existing protocol. The memo also notes that boarding times have increased on United by two minutes on average since 2019.
The new procedure will be the same as the current one during pre-boarding. Boarding groups 1 and 2 will remain the same: first and business class passengers, customers with MileagePlus loyalty status and United co-branded credit card holders. The final boarding group, used for basic economy customers, will also not be changed, although it will be called Group 6, rather than Group 5. United is boarding basic economy flyers Lastly.
For other economy travelers, United currently separates those with window or exit row seats into Group 3, but then groups passengers in middle and aisle seats into Group 4.
From October 26, Group 3 will remain the same, but Group 4 will be used for middle seat passengers only. The new group 5 will be for travelers seated in the aisle.
Customers traveling together on the same reservation will board together in the first applicable boarding group.