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United Airlines will board passengers by window, middle, then aisle seats

Minutes count when you're trying to move hundreds of thousands of airline passengers every day. So United Airlines is switching up its boarding policy in hopes of speeding things up at the airport. Starting Oct. 26, basic economy ticket holders, window seat passengers will board first, then those in middle seats, followed by people in aisle seats. The change is estimated to cut boarding time by up to two minutes, United told NPR Thursday.The process for pre-boarding groups, such as… ( More...

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godutch 32
Back to the old I say...board from the rear to the front. You will REALLY save time. The rest is just BS.
Recently flew from STN and KEF with Play.

Boarded front and rear and made a lot of sense.

Priority boarding is just a bullshit money making scam and has no organisational or process benefit.

1st/Business calls should really be swanning it in the lounge and be able to slide in to their front seats at the end.
I'm surprised they haven't implemented priority "de-boarding" as a revenue stream yet.
sparkie624 1
Shh.. Don't give them any ideas! Personally I think they should let the parents of Crying or Misbehaving off first! That way the rest of us do not have to Listen or maneuver around them!
Matha Goram 1
Perhaps the distance between the lounge and the gate makes one jittery (or should I say more demanding).

Wonder why SWA didn't tinker with this exercise because their model works too (of course, perhaps an apples to oranges comparison).
msetera 0
You sound jealous for not being among the priority folks.
your point is wll taken..i remember when that was done and it did avoid the "mess" in the aisles,however,back thgen everyone didnt carry on so much "stuff" to avoid checking a bag,so overhead space was not such a "premium"!
godutch 17
"For every action, there is an equal and opposite REaction." When airlines either lose our checked luggage or charge to check it, we then carry it on. The blame is not on 'US', it's on the airlines.
Stef Lar 4
Combination of both window-middle-aisle and back to front would still be faster, because otherwise you have middles and aisles having to stand up to let windows by.
The problem will always be the fumbler and bumbler who has no idea how to do anything or that they are holding up an entire airplane.
srobak 10
That accounts for 90% of the passengers on any given flight.
Ralph Grant 6
About bloody time! They should all do it that way.
linbb -6
Didnt you read the other post about a week ago about the same thing?
Ron Slater 5
I guess all the first class people will still board first because they want all the other coach travelers to be able to see them in their nice comfy seats and envy them. I have always said it would be a good idea to board a plane from the rear, windows first then center and then isle. BUT I am betting this will turn out to be a goat screw
Adair Owen 16
If I could fly first class I would want to board LAST so I didn’t get pummeled by luggage as the rest of the plane boards!!
idgie57 3
Been there, done that, got the bruises to prove it. If you get a first class window, it's not so bad, but if you're on the aisle, look out!
Shawn Porter 1
All passengers are permitted to board *anytime after* they’ve been called and some do.

I’ve been mocked by my traveling companions for waiting. I don’t get the rush. But apparently I’m the odd one. :shrug:
beilstwh 4
the rush is to get to the overhead bins before they fill up
Windows 1st... how about the remaining kids in the Family?
sparkie624 2
I guess they fit anywhere they can fit them!
Highflyer1950 8
Agreed, but here’s my take…such as it is. If premium get to board prior to reg window seating, I like a lot of other travellers prefer a premium aisle, indeed that’s what my wife and I select, aisles across from each other. Now you have aisles sitting before an economy window and now the process slows down….again. If you want to speed up boarding, stop jamming 200+ into narrow body ac., standardize carry on size and limit carry on to one only + purse/murse/briefcase….no duffel bags plus suitcase, etc. Only one carry on suitcase per pax and standard overhead bins that fit three to each side. This unless the airline wants to make all window/ aisle seats premium which is where I think were heading. Then the only econ seats left would be middle……good luck to families of two or more, let the arguing begin?
rlachell 4
I worked for a major carrier for 20 years who tried the same boarding process. It was eventually abandoned. The reasons where many, two are 1) confusion amongst passengers who boarded regardless of which seat they had, 2) if the gate agents were paying attention during the boarding process, it took time to explain to passengers that it was not their turn and took time to argue why they had to wait their turn. The carrier went back to numerical zones since it was easier for passengers to see a large number on their barding pass. This reduced issues. I think UA will eventually go back to numerical zones…There are some good time and cost savings ideas in the other threads, but they make too much sense for airlines to implement!
godutch 12
Simple, program window seats as a different zone. What's so hard about that?
srobak 7
Assigned the back half windows as group/zone 1, front half as group/zone 2, back half aisle as zone 3, etc. Not too hard to merge the two together.

Mybusters did a whole thing on this a long time back, and it worked splendidly.
Doug Parker 4
Mythbusters, check!
srobak 4
sorry - back half middle as zone 3, etc.
srobak 4
Mybusters proved this out many years ago. It would also require eliminating premium boarding - which should be gotten rid of anyhow.
srobak 4
I see an upcharge coming - another fleecing
Peter Beren 5
smart way to load, however for us aisle sitters who are mostly business travelers with carry on bags, there won't be any overhead bin space left :(
The rear window seats will now be at a premium to ensure overhead bin space.
Doug Parker 1
Life always seems to operate like it's got 9 shelves for 10 items. There's always going to be that one thing that doesn't quite fit, and which will become the one, next, great answer in the ongoing sequence of change.
Linda Munday 1
Exactly! I prefer aisle seats but now all the overhead space will be gone.
Cynthia Fisher 2
Not they stop charging for checked luggage and CHARGE for overhead space. Have Gate Agents put large Bright Orange stickers on the handles of ALL Overhead Space Bags that were paid for and have flight attendants remove any overhead luggage without the sticker. It’s gotten way out of hand; people bring everything they own onboard!
msetera 2
swanaero1 0
Lose, smash or otherwise make my bag unvailable... No thanks
Ditto this: Not they stop charging for checked luggage and CHARGE for overhead space. Have Gate Agents put large Bright Orange stickers on the handles of ALL Overhead Space Bags that were paid for and have flight attendants remove any overhead luggage without the sticker. It’s gotten way out of hand; people bring everything they own onboard!
steve robert 5
and do something with the overhead pirates who put their bag near the front when they are actually sitting in the back, when it comes to your place the overhead is all filled up by people behind you and you are like a salmon going up stream to retrieve your bag when you land because of these A-H
Daniel Hagan 2
If I was “king for a day” I would ban ALL carry on luggage!
steve robert 2
Board back to front makes the most sense. Priority boarding would mean nothing if you could check your luggage for free. Only reason for priority board now is so that they can get a place to put their bag. The practice for charging $35 to check your luggage is pure BS and why everyone one takes their luggage with them. The practice actually should be reversed, you take your luggage you are charged $35, check in is free. Problems solved with boarding delays
Agreed, however checked Baggage requires additional time at the Airport check-in before departure and again after arrival at Baggage cliam.
Mark Limond 2
United tried this year's ago. Didn't do very well. New Management thinks they can do it better this time. Good luck.
sparkie624 1
New Management always thinks they can do better... Look back at USAir back in the 90's! UGH!
I suggest boarding by a combination of window/middle/aisle AND back2front, starting with coach/economy class, then business class, then first class, with a flight attendant in back from when boarding starts to direct traffic. What do you think?
That could present a problem keeping the aircraft with it's nosewheel on the ground!
Kathryn Vieira 2
Sounds good but doesn’t work for families with young children who need to sit together
Family groups will have to be the exception to this new window first rule, they will not leave any members behind.
jeff slack 4
Certainly makes sense to me.

Now when will airlines start charging for weight?
Cleffer 6
Hopefully never. As someone who is 6'5", if I get charged because I weigh more than someone who is 5'4", I'm going to have a justifiable issue with that.
Martin Allan 3
OK but my wife , who is 5ft, might want a discount on her seat cost. She should only pay roughly 78% of the cost you pay if we base costs on height! - If we base it on weight & you weigh say 230lb whilst she weighs 98lb she'd pay only 42% what you pay!

There is no easy equable way to do this which is why the airlines make strange rules & sometimes make unreasonable decisions (& profits!)
sparkie624 8
keep in mind, more weight you have the more fuel that is required to get off the ground and too the destination. I think charging by the pound makes much more since... that is how UPS and FedEx does it.. Another idea... Use a Tape measure and size everyone... Height, Width, and thickness... It cost more in fuel for an Obese Person than a Skinny Person, so the Skinny Person should get a discount! Personally, I like the Idea of the scales. If you prebuy your ticket and you did not disclose your proper weight within 5 or 10 lbs, then you would be charged accordingly with a Penalty (keep people honest)! I remember I was on a flight and got a center seat. Flying Non-Rev between 2 Extreme Obese women and the plane was absolutely full. I worked maintenance control at the time. The Flight Attendant came to me (she knew me) and told me: "The Captain heard you were on the plane and would like for you to join him in the cockpit in the Jump Seat"... I could not get out of that seat a fast enough... Got to the Cockpit.. First words from the captain was... "I heard what you were stuck between"... I really think paying by the pound is a much more fair system to charge for tickets an I have no problems with scales.
people who are extremely obese,generally understand the isuues involved in travelling..i am talking about those say, who definitely would require extra time in boarding,possible assist, and if available, 2 seats..i have found in my own experience,the majority of passengers are NOT that large..the population as a whole has increased in size,from children to teens to adults,due to changes in our diets..i have also noted that those who are "fit",are not necessarily small..have you looked at a bodybuilder or a football player?they "bulk up" and usually weigh much more than 150-200 pounds..the concept of making people "weigh in" to buy a a ticket or board an aircraft is not only discriminatory,but ridiculous,and can you imagine how the lines would back up if people had to first weigh their luggage (if checking it),and then move to a scale to weigh themselves and get measured???obviously you have not worked with the public face to face..its not that simple..i might add, i have ridden as a non rev passenger myself on many occasions,and once remember quite well getting the LAST SEAT AVAIABLE on a flight,which happened to be in the very last row of the aircraft (an md 80_)in the middle between a woman who spread herself out to read a newspaper in the window seat,and a man who was quite large in the aisle..armrests were not raised either,so i DO understand what you have said,and i was not offered a cockpit jumpseat!by the way,if you worked in maintenance,then you certainly know that the fuel onboard any aicraft is the heaviest part of the total weight,and if weights and balances issues come around,the captain will choose to take on less fuel,ask for redistribution of bags and or cargo in the hold,or even no standbys..having dealt with that myself a few times,i understand the the way,UPS nand FEDEX as you mentioned,do not carry passengers..only freight and containers,which ARE weighed and distributed in the aircraft...
Adi Rabadi 2
You already get charged for not having a metal bar etched into your knee cap by having to pay for extra leg room...
Torsten Hoff 2
Why shouldn’t someone who is 5’4” have an issue with being charged the same as someone who is 6’5”?
srobak 0
Because the 6'5" person is paying extra for a legroom seat most likely, anyhow.
godutch 0
Because you will be sitting in the same seat. They don't charge by weight. Pretty much common sense.
sparkie624 0
They should!
sparkie624 -5
Height is no problem... However circumference many time is! I have flown Non Rev a lot. on another flight I was given the center aisle (I hate the center aisle)... A very very tall guy got the Window Seat and he could not sit up straight.. He asked if we could swap, and I had no issue with that... He was pretty much a 7' bean pole... He got to sit up straight and I got my window seat... Sometimes I wish the seating assignments took into account Width and Height of a person before assigning seats!... Maybe when you buy a ticket, list your Height if you are too tall and list your width or circumference if you are too fat!
godutch 0
Would that be similar to listing that you are too black, or too Asian, or too Catholic when you buy a ticket? Just wondering... When you mention 'TOO' in front of the nouns tall and fat, explain what you mean by that. How much is TOO FAT, or TOO TALL? Is someone's eyes TOO WIDE? Should we also mention that we lost a leg in Iraq...because we might be TOO SLOW in boarding? See where I'm going with this?
sparkie624 -6
Not at all Your Race is the way you were born... The people I referring to got it from "Spoon and Fork" Disease.. IE: Eating too much, or similar items such as sweat Drinks, Alcohol and the sorts. People are not born fat, it is a choice that the individual made...
godutch 2
what about those (like me) BORN with tall genes. So, I'm 6'4", and proportionally 215 lbs. I do five miles every day, and don't have spoon and fork disease. Should I be penalized for being a proportionally built person, but fairly heavy...above average weight?
sparkie624 0
I do not have a problem with height.. You were born with it.. No one was born to be Fat... That comes from Over eating and a Choice Kind of like Alcohol and Drugs, you get addicted to over doing it and then it is everyone else's fault.
sparkie624 -1
Appears to be quite a few here with "Fork and Spoon Disease!"
Bandrunner 2
Oh, don't I know it. Been fighting it every day of my life.
We all come from a line of survivors of the lean times, and have a genetic tendency to put it away when times are good. Unfortunately Ma Nature failed to take into account these modern times when cheap food surrounds us virtually for the taking. When I was working, I kept to a reasonably fit weight, but since retiring I've had a tendency to stack it away. It doesn't take much - just an extra couple of ounces per day and before you know it, the alarm bells on the scales are ringing.

Looking on the bright side, when the SHTF, I'll last longer than most.
srobak -1
There are lots of people who have weight issues that are not related to forks and spoons. Your solution is highly prejudicial and ripe for the pickings of an ADA lawsuit. Stick to the airline industry and leave health and medical conditions to the professionals.
Colin Seftel -1
In my opinion, pax who agree to be weighed and are below a certain threshold should receive a discount or some other reward.
godutch 1
A REWARD because YOU think you are normal? Or 'special'? I think that 6'4" is normal...and I should be rewarded with a seat that has more leg I'M special. Get it?
Colin Seftel 2
A reward because your below average weight saves money for the operator.
godutch 1
Good luck with that...
sparkie624 -2
Why not... It cost less to have a 100 lb Bean Pole than a 3 to 400 lb heffer who thinks everyone should bow to them... I remember once flying non rev... Had to set between 2 of them! They could not see there own problem... If you need 2 seats... Then buy to seats.. Most arm rests come up, but don't expect me to raise mine because of circumference.
srobak 0
The only people who think others should bow to them usually sit in the front section of the aircraft.
sparkie624 -2
Agreed, but those who are obese need to pay by the pound!
wx1996 3
If the writeups are correct and window seats get to board before platinum, gold, and silver. And along with it access to the space in overhead bins. To save 2 minutes in boarding time. Elite stays is now worthless. Overhead bin space for my carry on was the single most important benefit. They have removed it.
Colin Seftel 2
This article doesn’t say that window seats get precedence over premium customers - it doesn’t mention them at all. Most likely they’ll board with First and Business, as they do now.
srobak 1
then WMA boarding will not solve anything with the number of premium boarders there are now. It needs to be one or the other - not both.
Highflyer1950 2
btweston 1
Ah man. Maybe you should write ‘em a letter.
David Stocker 2
A point not generally reported is that UA has said this will only apply to pax boarding in Group 3 and higher. So there will be no change to priority boarding (thru Group 2) because of this.
Jim Welch 2
I know I’m in the vast minority, but I have a disability that really requires me to book a window seat.
On long flights, prosthetic limbs almost always cause a lot of pain, and have to be removed and leaned against the side of the aircraft.
It infuriates me to no end, when I get to my seat, and someone with an idle seat has decided they want mine, and then make a big scene when I ask them to move, and briefly explain why I paid extra for my assigned seat.
This is when they feel “attacked”, and start an argument.
3 out of 4 times, I’ve had to have the Flight Attendants step in.
I, for one, would like to board like this.
srobak 5
As an individual with a disability & with special conditions - you have been able to pre-board for decades.
rob strong 3
Hold strong. The younger entitiled generation thinks nothing of it, in every aspect of life. Sometimes you have to pay extra for that seat by the window. Do they care? No.
Jim Welch 0
When it’s happened to me, it’s always been someone 40+ years old. I’ve never seen a younger passenger pull that move.
Russ Nelson 1
They're confused about where their seat is, and you're being helpful by finding the right seat for them. If they want to argue that they should be able to change seats, tell them that they have to go make arrangements with the flight crew.
avionik99 2
Just eliminate carry-ons that do not fit under the seat in front of you. Problem solved. It is all those idiots that bring on huge carry-ons and can't seem to fit them overhead and the older people who need assistance etc etc that slow the entire process down. Or just charge $100 per carry-on. There is so much rudeness done by the carry on people holding up the deboarding process. They remind me of those that hog the fast lanes on the freeways and wont move over!
srobak 3
Sorry - you are really going to try to hang this on older people who need assistance? They get pre-boarded for a reason. Once they are on - the rest absolutely should be boarded by zone. There are also size guides for carryons at the gate door. If it doesn't fit - it rides below.
splautz 1
Rear to front cabins, window, middle, then isle all makes sense. Basic economy first?? What, so they can still precious bin space with their personal items and coats? yeah right. They should definitely go last to ensure that doesn't happen.
And now, let's figure out how to UNload the plane!!
John Taylor 1
What a great idea. I've always thought they should load back to front, window to aisle. That would save so much jamming up of the aisles while the first classers take their sweet special time to put their stuff away, as well as the rabble trying to fit an oversized bad in the overhead down the line. Let them relax in the waiting area and that saves time and keeps them from getting jostled while the steerage class shuffles by.
Marcia Wilson 1
We used to fly business class on Emirates and Qatar airlines when we lived overseas and both of them boarded first and business class last. Seemed to work fine as the flight attendants didn't allow any luggage to be placed in the overhead bins before the pax were boarded.
Window seating 1st not productive enough. Zone seating from rear to front most productive monitoring Carry on loading in over head bins.
There's no good solution to boarding. Planes aren't designed to board, they're designed to fly and to make the most money flying, not boarding.
Some can't be boarded back to front because of potential COG issues. Back to front doesn't take out the clowns throwing carry-ons in the front section of the plane.
Window first doesn't work since it assumes every passenger is an individual traveler, not travelling with kids or an elder. Also, aisle passengers will have no carry-on space left by the time they board.
Free checked bags don't work since there are things that I won't check. I need them with me when I land, not possibly days later. Or stuff that may 'disappear' due to value.
How many people just flop the carryon into the space width down, heck, even sideways or jam their winter coat into the bin next to their carryon.
One solution is to lower the carryon size to 1/3 the seat pitch. Every seat has that space. Biz and 1st can get a wider bag. That takes patrolling and slowing down the gate process though.
But even in controlled studies, the gain to different boarding schemes is minimal. And that doesn't account for Aunt Emma, who wanders two rows past her seat, then has to go back, can't lift the carryon into the bin; the bin needs to be rearranged by crew or a volunteer, etc. One person can wipe out any gain in boarding time.
A mid-sized single row like a 737 can typically be boarded in the allotted time with no real issues. Even faster when the pilot is telling passengers to get their butts in gear or we may be sitting on a gate hold :)
Back in the day Carriers boarded from the front and rear Doors with less Passengers. Maybe they could bring this back with new Gates. A Tail Stand or Nose wheel lock on the Tugs could be used to prevent any possible COG or Tail sitting issues. Rear to front boarding studies show as much as one third boarding time savings. Proper carry-on placement in overhead bids could be displayed (stickers) and announced.
Chris B 1
Might help, but the choke point will always be the single entrance door.
Board front and rear. Works well, though many airports would need to invest in additional air-bridge infrastructure.
And gate staff that not only costs $$$ but they're having trouble finding people to do it.
Would be far cheaper than additional runways - looking at you BHX, LHR, LGW etc here.
srobak 1
Does help. Cuts 10 minutes off boarding time.
srobak 1
sorry - typo'd the address.
Colin Seftel 1
United Airlines passengers criticize “unfair” boarding system favoring window seats:
William Bonner 1
It works in theory. Then you let the premier travelers board early and they have to get up to move and let the later passengers move to their seats.
Doug Parker 1
Who's found the Mythbusters episode on this?
Doug Parker 1
Families, couples, and groups don't acknowledge how reluctant they are of the inconsequential act of momentarily splitting up during the boarding process.

Many also secretly and unconsciously require their groups remain intact, unconsciously insisting on boarding as a unit—one spanning multiple aisles, and in different seat positions within those aisles, defeating all efficient boarding sequences.

Most groups have unconsciously designated a "luggage lifter"—the person who must lift their stuff into the overhead. That's kind of silly, since most of us love being helpful, and welcome the chance to assist any passenger who appears in need. Think about and recall how good you felt after helping another passenger while boarding. Hundreds of opportunities to be surrogate luggage lifters are missed each boarding and deplaning, helping each other, and speeding up the boarding process in the process.

It's a number of elephants in our rooms.
Board back to o front.
Dare kola 1
Hw does the prioritiez window which actually looks like i knew it deferent than the previous one?
Craig Good 1
Well, it's at least Steffen-adjascent.
hwh888 1
Now that is the most sensible decision I’ve seen in a long time by airlines. I usually book a isle seat but now I fear all overheads will be full by time I board. We’ll see?
Mike Boote 1
Everything old is new again. This boarding technique was done back in the 70's/80's. I remember it was frustrating if you were in an aisle seat - by the time you got to board, there were no overhead bins left. It would be instructive to learn why airlines abandoned this boarding style before.
srobak 2
rigidly holding people to the size restrictions of overheads - as well as loading on-edge vs. flat will fix that problem.
Glen Pilant 1
There's a huge 'Yes,but...' here. This WILMA policy only applies to Boarding Groups 4 and 5. Everyone that currently boards in Groups 1 to 3 will still board by group.
srobak 1
Those would need to be restructured. After 1C and elderly/disabled - group 1 would be back half window, group 2 would be front half window, group 3 would be back half aisle, etc. Premium boarding would need to be eliminated (and should be anyhow).
srobak 1
sorry - group 3 would be back half middle, etc.
Finally some intelligent thinking. Where did United find this piece of illuminated brain>
Matha Goram 1
Simulation, of course! There was a trial/test phase, I believe, and now it is "full-steam" ahead. This is exactly what "drove" me to Fortran in the late 60s at IIT/KGP but unfortunately except for two projects on saving demurrage costs in the late 70s, I could never put beans on the table for my family in later years with this experience. If you lived in Houston in the early 80s you know what I mean.
Cameron Jones 1
Airlines need to enforce carry on size limits for one.
Two, board front to rear so you don’t have people with seats in the back putting their carry ons in the overheads at the front, leaving flight attendants to search for a place for front of cabin passengers bags before takeoff, and inconveniencing those passengers when disembarking.
There may also be merit to boarding window, center, aisle as well.
Colin Seftel 0
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

United's new boarding system prioritizes window seats

Starting Oct. 26, United Airlines will implement a boarding process that puts window-seat passengers in economy class on the plane ahead of their peers in the middle and the aisle.
Thomas Lillis IV -1
This policy won't last long. I'm not going to be separated from my son at a strange airport just to facilitate boarding an aircraft and I can't be the only one. And that's before we speak of people flying with care-givers etc.
Glen Pilant 2
Families will still board together.
srobak 1
obviously this would involve exceptions for small children. As you would be sitting together anyhow - you wont be interfering with other passengers in the same row.
Glen Pilant 2
Not just small children. Families will still board together just like we do now. I'm Group 2 and my spouse is Group 4 yet they always let her board with me. Unless you encounter a militant gate agent who is having a bad day things will be fine.
srobak 1
And again - if in the same row - that would be fine. But if they are split in different parts of the aircraft, or if 1 parent is with 1 or more kids in one part of the aircraft, and another parent is with the remaining child(ren) - then both halves should not board together out of group order.
linbb -3
Thanks for playing today this is old news has been on the media for a week.
linbb -5
Another already posted quite some time ago reposting things again I see.
srobak 1
kinda like you did in this very thread. brilliant.
Mike Provine -1
Fellow Travelers:
I have been flying United since it was Continental in Newark. Over the years my loyalty, borne of both convenience for me in terms of travel time to airport, and United's FF program, has led to many of my employer's $$ (for 19 years I was the employer!) going to United. So I gained status and played by the rules. If United wishes to reward by either First Class or other priority boarding because of loyalty and to be sure, more money paid, then they have earned it. Period! And I appreciate that. Whether the expanded boarding helps, or not, is a reasonable experiment and it deserves a chance. I will be the first to criticize if it creates downstream headaches. But United is trying. One other thing: remember the second priority boarders are active Military members. Anyone want to demote them? I didn't think so!
John Taylor 1
Every time I've flown first class, I've been amazed at the amount of times I was beaned in the head by some doofus heading rearward's bag. I'd rather sit in the boarding area until the rabble has gone past. I know my seat will be there and overhead bin won't be given away before I board.
Dare kola -3
Does every board looks Special
Steve Aliamus -2
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

United Airlines will board passengers by window, middle, then aisle seats

Minutes count when you're trying to move hundreds of thousands of airline passengers every day. So United Airlines is switching up its boarding policy in hopes of speeding things up at the airport.


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