United has just changed its boarding process, according to a post by a United employee on popular frequent flyer website FlyerTalk. The post, which was made by Shannon Kelly, director of customer insights for the airline, asserts that changes to the boarding process will simplify it for all passengers.
Unfortunately, not all United flyers agree with this assessment, in particular the airline’s Gold and Silver elite flyers.
That’s because Gold and Silver elites will now board in United’s new “Group 2,” alongside MileagePlus credit card holders, who may or may not have incurred the financial, logistical and other difficulties involved in attaining United elite status, which entails flying between 30-60 qualifying segments (or, alternatively, between 25,000-50,000 qualifying miles) in a single calendar year.
Because the new process has decreased the number of non-elite boarding groups to three, it is likely that the change will be appreciated by the general flying public.
Likewise, Platinum elites will now board in “Group 1,” which was previously reserved for 1K and Global Service elites, as well as families traveling with small children, active duty military members and other passengers needing special assistance.
As a United elite flyer myself — and one who has now been relegated to group 2, alongside passengers who earned their “preferred” status simply by applying and being approved for a credit card — I am a bit disenchanted.
As I’ve articulated before, elite flyers’ expectations for priority service are more rooted in mathematics than entitlement, and I’m disappointed that United has made me once again question the quantitative value of my continued loyalty to its brand.
(Particularly because, in many ways, it still sucks, well in arrears of the airline’s botched merger with Continental Airlines.)
What do you think — is United’s new boarding process BS or a welcome change to an outdated system?