nycflyer
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UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 8:18 pm

As a new parent (had a baby boy 3 weeks ago!), I am now sensitive to family-friendly issues, and was disheartened to hear this week that UA was dropping its pre-board announcement for families with small children.

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-05-23/t...ass-american-airlines?_s=PM:TRAVEL

I'm frustrated because I already have a UA booking for my baby's first flight; an LGA-ORD visit to the grandparents in the fall. Had I known, I would have booked DL. Traveling with babies/toddlers is hard enough as it is for parents, with a squirmy/unpredicatble child, and having to bring a stroller, a car seat, toys and/or baby formula, along with the parents' carry-ons -- and the pre-board announcement was the only small comfort one could expect.

Further, I fail to see the marketing strategy. UA angers millions of families with a rule like this, but gets nothing in return: no added revenues, no cost savings, not even time efficiencies (families still have to board the plane anyway, and it will probably take them longer if they board with the rest of coach).

Can anyone shed a little more light on this? I just don't see the point. From my experience, pre-boarding with children has never appeared to be problematic, or a source of complaints from biz class pax. Just seemed like a common courtesy. A shame.
 
XT6Wagon
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 8:28 pm

Its likely because every study ever done has shown that small kids should board last. If anything one parent should board at normal time with the normal carry ons and older children if they are not needed to help with the young ones.

In the end minimizing the time you are exposing the child to the hostile and quite frightining enviroment of an aircraft interior should be your goal.
 
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DLX737200
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 8:28 pm

Quoting NYCFlyer (Thread starter):
From my experience, pre-boarding with children has never appeared to be problematic, or a source of complaints from biz class pax.

I disagree. As a former gate agent of another airline, I had numerous first class and elite passengers complain about families getting to preboard as they took forever sometimes, blocked aisles and most importantly, got first go at the overhead bins. A mute point, though I might add, considering first class passengers rarely ran out of overhead bin space on the plane.
 
ckfred
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 8:41 pm

Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 1):
In the end minimizing the time you are exposing the child to the hostile and quite frightining enviroment of an aircraft interior should be your goal.

How is the environment of an aircraft interior hostile and frightening? When I was a kid, I was positively intrigued by aircraft interiors. Most kids I know, especially boys, love exploring aircraft cabins.

As for UA's policy, it's stupid. AA did the same thing about a year after our son was born, and boarding an aircraft went from being easy to an experience of trying to move as quickly as the Flash.

It's far easier to tote a toddler and his car seat onto a plan, strap the seat in, and then strap the kid in, when you don't have a the rest of the passengers glaring at you while you have the aisle blocked.

What made the situation worse is that I become AA Gold, so I was boarding ahead of Group 1 and seated in the front of the cabin. That just held up the line even more. When boarding ahead of First, there isn't any problem, so long as you aren't in the First class cabin.

I was on an AA flight (MD-80) with 23 chilren under the age of 2 (it was the Christmas holidays). Boarding was a nightmare, because AA had gotten rid of pre-boarding of children.
 
PacNWjet
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 8:45 pm

I flew on Southwest for the first time ever in March and was pleasantly surprised to see how efficient the boarding process works at WN. Southwest's boarding procedures call for families with small children to board between the "A" and "B groups:

"An adult traveling with a child four years old or younger may board during Family Boarding, which occurs between the "A" and "B" boarding groups. However, those Customers holding an "A" boarding pass should still board with the "A" boarding group. With an all-jet fleet outfitted with comfortable, leather seats, our families traveling with small children are easily accommodated together."

http://www.southwest.com/html/custom...ce/faqs.html?topic=boarding_school

Not having pre-boarding for families with small children does not seem to be a problem at all for Southwest. Instead, Southwest's system appears to be incredibly efficient, or at least that was my good luck on four flights in March.

[Edited 2012-05-25 13:59:37]
 
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OzarkD9S
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 9:00 pm

Maybe it's time for a "Family Zone" at the rear of the plane that boards after F and C. Then families and their children head to the back, then the middle of the aircraft boards. Booking websites would automatically show open seats only available in the rear when children under say 5 y/o are entered during the booking process. Then parents and small children can take their time to get situated without blocking the aisles in the center sections and are near other sympathetic travelers. Wouldn't work with open seating of course but it would seem to be a workable solution for both families and those flying without kids.
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AA737-823
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 9:01 pm

Perhaps you were just over-entitled.

If you don't understand that comment, head over to the UA forum on flyertalk.

Sarcasm aside, I actually think preboarding for families with small children is a huge waste of time. Looking back on all of my flights for calendar year 2012, my observation has been that it doesn't save any time, it results in children being ON the airplane, STUCK in a seat for 30 minutes longer than everyone else, and half of the families with children don't even take advantage of it, which means we end up waiting on single mom with twelve baby kettles to board at the last minute anyway.

That said, I sadly don't have any children, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
But I still can't see making your kids board 15-30 minutes early being a good thing... kids' patience and attention span is short enough as it is.
 
compensateme
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 9:14 pm

The policy allowing small children additional time to board was intended to give parents additional time hauling car seats, strollers, etc. onto the aircraft and getting their child strapped into their seat. It was never intended to allow mom & dad to bring their elementary school-aged children on board, place their belonging (that would comfortably fit into half an overhead bin) into multiple bins -- and attempt to defend them from others use -- and let their kids run wild until it's time to depart. Worse, you're see an increasing number of tweens and teens included as "small children."

If you're traveling with an infant, special needs child or carrying strollers/etc. and you let the gate agent know you require additional time to board, I'm certain they'll be happy to oblige. But if you think you can use 12-year-old Tanner as an excuse to board early...
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UA772IAD
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 9:19 pm

Quoting NYCFlyer (Thread starter):

While I don't have young kids myself (or any for that matter!) I understand your frustration.

Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 1):
In the end minimizing the time you are exposing the child to the hostile and quite frightining enviroment of an aircraft interior should be your goal.

I'm not sure what studies you are referencing, however, it has nothing to do with exposing a child to a hostile and frightening environment- most kids in my experience aren't bothered by the cabin when on the ground and with the engines off.

It's about this:

Quoting ckfred (Reply 3):
It's far easier to tote a toddler and his car seat onto a plan, strap the seat in, and then strap the kid in, when you don't have a the rest of the passengers glaring at you while you have the aisle blocked.

My friends with young kids remember doing simple things (like boarding an aircraft) before they had kids- most parents with small children just want to get their kids settled and out of the way of everyone else.

Also, imagine if young children did board last- do you think the flight would leave on-time?

Quoting DLX737200 (Reply 2):
I had numerous first class and elite passengers complain about families getting to preboard as they took forever sometimes, blocked aisles and most importantly, got first go at the overhead bins. A mute point, though I might add, considering first class passengers rarely ran out of overhead bin space on the plane.

This is where this new policy has come from, the self-annointed elite with a superiority complex (and I am not saying that all elites are like this, BTW), outraged that someone else steps aboard the aircraft before they do.

I have witnessed this vocal minority (to borrow the term) become so irked at the sight of someone in a wheelchair, or someone in a military uniform walk ahead of them down the jetbridge. I've had fellow elites try and cut in-front of me in line because they assumed I wasn't flying in the premium cabin. It makes my skin crawl.

Most pre-boarding families don't fly in premium cabins- therefore the SHARED overhead bin space in F or C isn't going to be compromised by the family in 29A,B,C.


I think UA should re-consider this move.
 
flashmeister
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Fri May 25, 2012 9:36 pm

Can't say that I'm incredibly surprised by this... the entire UA-CO merger has been a debacle that has (intentionally or accidentally) thrown customer service straight out of the window. This is just par for the course.
 
DLD9S
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 12:31 am

It has been about a year since I last flew UA, but I recall them offering a "free" checked bag, pre-boarding and elite access security line passes with my last ticket... basically "elite for a day" passes like AA's "Your Choice" product. Couldn't travelers with small children purchase if they really want to pre-board?
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UALFAson
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 12:40 am

First off, congrats, NYCFlyer, on NYCFlyer Jr! Hope baby and parent(s) are doing well!

I think this is another case where the legitimate needs of the few are suffering due to the abuses of the many. The problem is that the "pre-boarding of families with children" process has gotten out of hand. No longer just a courtesy to the single parent juggling a baby, stroller, and carry on bag, my recent anecdotal experiences lead me to believe that every person traveling with someone under the age of 18 now thinks they're eligible to pre-board.

Although the gate agents could and should do a better job of enforcing the age limits, staffing is already bare bones at the gate at most airlines and I'm sure a lot of them don't want the potential of creating a scene.

I respectfully disagree with your assertion that UA (and other airlines) get nothing in return. Instead, it's one less thing to irritate elites and other FF who already stampede the boarding door 15 minutes before boarding even begins so they can...sit in their squished airplane seat for even longer than they already have to? I don't understand the phenomenon myself (yeah yeah, I get that those not in F are angling for overhead bin space in Y) but it's the nature of the beast nowdays.

USA Today.com posted an article about this a few days ago and the reader comments were overwhelmingly positive in favor of elimination.
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rampart
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:00 am

I'm of two opinions on this.
First, I'm sad another form of customer service is lost. I still say, if the airlines want to continue down this trend for catering to their elite, they'll find themselves as essentially scheduled biz jets flying 20% of the traffic they do now, because everyone else will simply find it no longer feasible to travel.

On the other hand, I never board my family first. That's 20 minutes less that I have to entertain squirmy kids in an airplane seat, and that's if the push back isn't late. Upon announcing that families with children can pre-board, that's the signal to relax, change the diaper one more time, one last bite of snack, etc. Then board as normal for the section. (My kids have a paid seat, I'm not hurting for carry-on space.)

Deterioration of CO and UA service has had me trying other airlines. I did try WN for the first time with the family a few months ago. I had trepidation about the boarding and seating together, but it was not a problem at all. I don't think I used a family boarding slot, just our A or B category numbers.

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frntman
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:28 am

It's purely about catering to the higher yielding frequent fliers. When they speak, the carrier's listen.

Generally, families traveling with younger children are lower yielding and despite raising the concerns about this policy, it'll fall on deaf ears from the carrier.

I have a two year old and as others have said, would take advantage of the time in the gate area to take care of the things that are much more difficult in the cabin.
 
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ssteve
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:36 am

I have to say that families boarding LAST sounds like a nightmare, too. I've stood in jetways and crept down too many aisles to think that it's better for the little terrors to join in that fun. Unless they tell the families to chill at the gate until the entire slow-ass boarding is done, the best place for anyone with kids is going to be at the front of the cattle call, and that just means they'll be milling 'round the door with the kids and accoutrement-- how is that a good thing?

There's definitely an aspect of not using bin space on full-sized carryons for pint-sized kids to this.

[Edited 2012-05-25 18:37:39]
 
Cubsrule
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:39 am

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 6):
But I still can't see making your kids board 15-30 minutes early being a good thing... kids' patience and attention span is short enough as it is.

I make no claim that my daughter (nearly 2 1/2) is a "typical" child, but she's generally more content on the plane than in the gate area. She finds the gate area chaotic and confusing, and being on a plane is "cool" enough that it's entertaining in itself. Moreover, she's and we are guaranteed to have a seat on the airplane, which isn't necessarily the case on the plane.

Quoting UALFAson (Reply 12):
Although the gate agents could and should do a better job of enforcing the age limits, staffing is already bare bones at the gate at most airlines and I'm sure a lot of them don't want the potential of creating a scene.

I think that's a huge part of the problem, and WN's generally vigorous enforcement of the age limit (which is necessary because of their open seating policy) makes their child boarding go a lot more smoothly.

With a car seat, or even just with a little one, it does take a bit longer to get settled, and I for one appreciate the extra time, which comes at no cost to anyone else.
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UA772IAD
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:42 am

Quoting UALFAson (Reply 12):
Although the gate agents could and should do a better job of enforcing the age limits, staffing is already bare bones at the gate at most airlines and I'm sure a lot of them don't want the potential of creating a scene.

I respectfully disagree with your assertion that UA (and other airlines) get nothing in return. Instead, it's one less thing to irritate elites and other FF who already stampede the boarding door 15 minutes before boarding even begins so they can...sit in their squished airplane seat for even longer than they already have to? I don't understand the phenomenon myself (yeah yeah, I get that those not in F are angling for overhead bin space in Y) but it's the nature of the beast nowdays.

CSRs could certainly be more proactive. Some choose to enforce it, while others don't. It's a pick your battles type of situation. I recently hopped on a RNO-SFO flight. At the gate, the CSRs working the flight announced general boarding. The flight was pretty empty (it was a CRJ-200). I witnessed a Y-class passenger walk up out of the restroom and immediately to the gate, which had no line. He accidentally walked into the LEFT lane and on the red carpet. The CSR made him turn around and use the correct, non-red carpeted lane. He was the only guy boarding (other than myself). CSRs do have SOPs- but again, they pick their battles...

As for further irritating elites- those that really have a problem with this practice, IMO, need to get over themselves. Pre-boarding has been a practice for decades, it's not a new concept. If you (not YOU UALFA...) have a problem with flying with other people, rent a car and drive or charter a BizJet.
 
rwy04lga
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:45 am

According to the article, UA just wants to reduce the number of boarding groups. UA will continue to pre-board anyone who requires 'extra time or assistance'.

I agree that kids should be in a family section in the rear of the plane, furthest from the HVC's in first/business. June 2008...BOM-JFK...15 hours of nonstop crying from a kid in the 1st row in Y.

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rwy04lga
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:49 am

According to the article, UA just wants to reduce the number of boarding groups. UA will continue to pre-board anyone who requires 'extra time or assistance'.

I agree that kids should be in a family section in the rear of the plane, furthest from the HVC's in first/business. BOM-JFK...15 hours of nonstop crying from a kid in 1st row in Y.

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skycub
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:56 am

I am just going to throw this idea out here and it's just an idea, not my person opinion....

United has (and read flyertalk, there is plenty of truth to this) made it known that they cater to their most-frequent travelers. There are accounts after accounts after accounts on flyertalk about how United Global Service Members and United's highest-level members get preferential treatment over other travelers.

I am not making that assumption on my own... I am making based on the many United frequent travelers on flyertalk who post things like: "I love United and would not fly anyone else, but that is because I have status. If anyone I knew did not have status on United, I would not recommend them."

It is, apparently, no secret that United is not a carrier that caters to leisure travelers and travelers chasing the lowest fare.

There is nothing wrong with that.

However, in this day of planes in the United States flying at or near capacity on EVERY flight.... of there being SO many people loyal to one carrier that the upgrade list and the request for exit-row seats are overwhelmed... of planes being packed and the overhead bins being even more packed than the seats.... perhaps United, and the other airlines that adopt this policy, are saying: "Since we cannot upgrade or move to premium seats our most LOYAL customers, the least we can do is guarantee some overhead bin space for them." You gotta admit, frequent flyers HATE checking their carry-ons on. They fly so much that the last thing they want to do is go wait at baggage claim...which is understandable.

So here you have a high-flying, very loyal customer to United (or another carrier) who can't get an upgrade, who can't even get into an exit row and who has to board in their "Group" or "Zone" only to be told that their carryons have to be checked when:

Quoting DLX737200 (Reply 2):
I had numerous first class and elite passengers complain about families getting to preboard as they took forever sometimes, blocked aisles and most importantly, got first go at the overhead bins

Or:

Quoting CompensateMe (Reply 7):
It was never intended to allow mom & dad to bring their elementary school-aged children on board, place their belonging (that would comfortably fit into half an overhead bin) into multiple bins -- and attempt to defend them from others use

Read some threads on flyertalk where there are topics like: "The longest upgrade list you have ever seen?" or "Number 56 on the upgrade list? Really???"

These are frequent flyers who spend A LOT of money and have their loyalty with ONE single airline....and they can't get an upgrade and then board in coach only to find that a family who booked on that particular airline based on price alone has taken up several overhead bins because they got to board first. It has to be frustrating to be a loyal customer, spending A LOT to only fly one airline... board and find there is no bin space left and they must check their carryon.

Look, I am not pro- or anti- family boarding. I can see both sides of it. The family needs extra time to get the car seat in place but then takes up an entire overhead bin because they are empty on boarding.... and the frequent flyer who spends a lot on an airline not able to find bin space when they are forced to board in Zone 107 because their upgrade didn't clear. I really can see BOTH sides....

But from an airline side... who do you want to upset more? The family that is only flying because XYZ Airlines had the cheapest fare and will jump to ABC Airlines the next time if they are cheaper? Or the frequent flyer who is loyal to XYZ Airlines that paid $1,000 the same day for a same-day ticket and couldn't get upgraded and the LEAST he or she could ask for is bin space?

Some of you may thing that is silly.... but go over to flyertalk. See how seriously the passengers who are loyal to ONE airline feel about bin space. It's a big deal.

United, and I do not fault them for this, caters to the repeat customer. They do. Maybe this is just one way to guarantee that when you have loyal customers who could not be upgraded and board first... the least they can do is guarantee bin space. That extra 30 minutes at baggage claim may not mean a lot to the family who is flying once a year.... but for a United customer who flies weekly or more... who spends a good part of their life on United aircraft and whos time is very valuable.... that extra 30 minutes is a big deal.

I see how infrequent flyers (and those with small kids) use the overheads.... they fill them up with their shopping bag, their hat, their wife's purse, the baby bag, the kid's backpack, every carry-on they have, the one personal carryon and the one personal belonging and the exceptions made for babies...an entire bin filled before Zone or Group One even gets to step foot on the plane.... Maybe United sees this as an opportunity to provide one last perk to their loyal customers who don't get the benefit of an upgrade.
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Jano
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 2:39 am

I have a 27 month old boy who has flown since he was 3 months old - 28 flights total, including some TATL and TPAC flights. I think it's better if families with small kids board first. This way the most difficult part, the boarding through the bridge and standing there and then in the airplane isle is the shortest possible. On the airline that we fly we go as the first, find our economy seats, and then we are out of the way. Once in the seats I can easily entertain my kid with a book or by watching "ai-paa" through the window.
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PHX787
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 4:20 am

Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 1):
Its likely because every study ever done has shown that small kids should board last. If anything one parent should board at normal time with the normal carry ons and older children if they are not needed to help with the young ones.

I boarded zone one on my DL flight today from PHX and when I got onboard, there were screaming kids running up and down the aisles and sweating parents trying to control them. I agree, they should board last. I had to literally scream at some kid to move back to his back-row seat so I could easily slip into my seat and out of harms way, since I'm a window seat. The parent thanked me. I was worried he was going to yell at me.

But yeah, it's a lot safer to board the kids last.

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 18):
I agree that kids should be in a family section in the rear of the plane, furthest from the HVC's in first/business. June 2008...BOM-JFK...15 hours of nonstop crying from a kid in the 1st row in Y.

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FlyASAGuy2005
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 4:31 am

Moot point for mainline as the bin is the bin but on large RJs, it was always very annoying to have to deal with strollers, car seats, and wheel chairs at the last minute. Why? Because you generally can fit all your valet bags in the smaller forward bin on the CR7s/9s. Getting 3-4 strollers 10 minutes before departure is not fun. Not when you'e trying to deal with everything else going on with the flight plus fighting with 25 valet bags and now have to find help to load the strollers in the back.

UA can and will do what it thinks is best but operationally, I rather take a SLIGHT delay at the front end of the flight rather than the back end, It's much easier to recover from the former. There's too much going on during the last 10-15 minutes of the flight to then have to deal with single mom and her 1 year old plus the stroller, carry-on, baby bag, etc. and possibly 2-3 other families with all the same stuff.

[Edited 2012-05-25 21:34:05]
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777law
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 11:57 am

Quoting CompensateMe (Reply 7):
Worse, you're see an increasing number of tweens and teens included as "small children."

I think that that is probably the point of UA's new policy - to put an end to the increasing number of passengers who are using their almost teen-age childern to board at the same time as priority passengers.

I'm UA Premier Platinum and I have a 2 year old daughter who frequently travels with my wife and me. Frankly, I've never understood the reason that families with children (my family included) get to board at the same time as or before the elite status passengers just because they have children. In fact, there's been a few times that I've been positively furious that families with "children" (e.g. Tommy will be starting Junior High next year) have boarded before me or with me. There is simply no reason for it. The FA's know how to handle children - you either need a bassinet or you don't and you leave your stroller on the jet way - and that's that.

My wife and I have never really needed extra time to get settled in with our daughter when we've flown with her - even on long-haul flights like ORD-HKG or SIN-FRA. And, like others have said here, it's not always great to pre-board with a child. We've often found it easier if one of us boards normally and gets settled and the other boards at the last minute with our daughter. Our 2 year old does not want to be on the plane any longer than she absolutely needs to be.

This is actually quite a sensible policy by UA.
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Cubsrule
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:22 pm

Quoting skycub (Reply 19):
Look, I am not pro- or anti- family boarding. I can see both sides of it. The family needs extra time to get the car seat in place but then takes up an entire overhead bin because they are empty on boarding.... and the frequent flyer who spends a lot on an airline not able to find bin space when they are forced to board in Zone 107 because their upgrade didn't clear. I really can see BOTH sides....

Frequent fliers, at least those who are rational, understand that there are consequences in terms of seat choice and bin space to making many of the choices that frequent fliers make (loitering in the gate area for an upgrade, standing by, etc.). Those who are irrational flock to flyertalk.

Though on the other hand, I stood by for a WN flight a couple of weeks ago that was on a full 735 and got the last seat. The f/a made room for my carryon (22 inch bag that has to go sideways on a 735). That's really how the system ought to work on all carriers.
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jumpjets
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 1:34 pm

As a single male, no children, I applaud UAs decision! The world is full of companies who pander to the whims of people who have chosen to have children then expect everyone else to accommodate their needs at no extra cost and at inconvenience to everyone else.

I am all in favour of the MS [I think] decision to have child free zones on some of their routes - bliss.

I'll sit back now and await the howls of protest from the parents of this world.

     
 
traindoc
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 2:24 pm

As a 1K, I am glad they are ending this. When I pay more to fly up front, I should not be pre-empted by families or other non F passengers (except military!). If I pay more to fly, then I expect a higher level of service. When I fly in coach, then I don't expect to board first, etc.

The problem now with air travel is that people want to pay Walmart prices, but want Nieman Marcus service. And yes, the coach pax will indeed fill up the first class bins if they board first.
 
UA772IAD
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 2:32 pm

Quoting jumpjets (Reply 25):

Though like yourself, I am a single male with no children, and I believe your argument is sophistry, I'll bite for the sake of making another point.

- Pre-boarding doesn't cost any additional money to the airline or operation.
- The elimination of pre-boarding isn't going to allow the first boarding group to board any earlier either, the flight simply won't open 5-10 minutes earlier.

Quoting skycub (Reply 19):
and the frequent flyer who spends a lot on an airline not able to find bin space when they are forced to board in Zone 107 because their upgrade didn't clear. I really can see BOTH sides....

That sounds like a personal problem. CSRs do their best, and usually clear upgrades before boarding starts. Whether they distribute the new boarding passes is another story. I personally go into the stand-by waiting game with the mentality that my upgrade WON'T clear (which is becoming more of a reality now post merger with CO). It's much less stressful, and much more of a pleasant surprise when they do call your name and you're cleared!

Quoting traindoc (Reply 26):
As a 1K, I am glad they are ending this. When I pay more to fly up front, I should not be pre-empted by families or other non F passengers (except military!). If I pay more to fly, then I expect a higher level of service. When I fly in coach, then I don't expect to board first, etc.

So you believe that you should board before an elderly person in a wheelchair who needs extra time or assistance to get to their seat? Just need some clarification.

And you are getting a higher level of service (I suppose) by flying in the premium cabin. I don't see how someone who needs extra time to board interferes with your "higher level of service"

[quote/]
The problem now with air travel is that people want to pay Walmart prices, but want Nieman Marcus service. And yes, the coach pax will indeed fill up the first class bins if they board first. [/quote]

This is a reductionist argument. How can you draw a connection between pre-boarding and price/value? I could argue the same thing about customers who buy Y-class tickets, get upgraded at check-in or at the gate and complain about the service on-board in the premium cabin. (For example, complaints about service-flow where GS/1K are given first-choice of meals, etc.)

[Edited 2012-05-26 07:45:11]
 
LOWS
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 2:36 pm

What? 26 replies and no one brought up child free flights?

But seriously, why not create a families and children section of Y? Squeeze a bulkhead in somewhere in back for bassinets and ta-da!
 
DLD9S
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 4:18 pm

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 17):
I agree that kids should be in a family section in the rear of the plane, furthest from the HVC's in first/business. June 2008...BOM-JFK...15 hours of nonstop crying from a kid in the 1st row in Y.
Quoting LOWS (Reply 28):
But seriously, why not create a families and children section of Y? Squeeze a bulkhead in somewhere in back for bassinets and ta-da!

I think this is a novel idea, but reality is that the last couple rows are often the only seats available for pre-assigning without a fee, so they fill up quickly with non-elites who don't want to pay extra for the first 20 rows of windows and aisles...

This leads to another problem that I have seen more and more - families that chose not to pay extra to sit together because they assume the airline will do it for them automatically or that the plane won't be full, and have a melt down when their family of 5 is in 5 different middle seats. This inevitably leads to some passenger who did pay extra for a nice seat to be pressured into taking the middle (for no refund).
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CZ346
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 4:22 pm

Quoting skycub (Reply 19):

Bravo sir, bravo.

I'm Global Services on UA and I do the UA116/117 leg 4-5 times a month. At this point, I get upgraded pretty much on every flight without fail. I was on UA116 Wednesday (purchased as a full-fare economy) and boraded as Y. T be honest - most of the time I don't have a problem with the families boarding first, but on this flight it has become an issue. I was in 24F to start out with, and when they boarded 1K and GS, we got on the plane and the flight was probably already 1/4 full. There was a family of 6 who had gotten on, loaded up 5 bins with half of their stuff and sat down in seats together that were not theirs (24D-L, inclnuding my seat). When I asked them if they were in my seat, they requested that I switch seats with one of them so they could sit with their children. I typically do not mind it and happily oblidge, but they asked me to sit on the last row middle seat, inbetween a 4 year old kid and his father who both wanted aisle seats. One of the FAs who I know overheard the situation came over and told the family they needed to sit in their assigned seat until they completed boarding and at that point she would try to provide them with seats together, but nothing could be promised. Then turned to me and said the famous "Chris, would you like to grab your bags and come with me?". He ended up moving the other 2 people who were in that row to seats that they preffered within Y and the family was able to sit together.

I applauded the [ex-CO] FA who did all of that to help them, but if I was 1K and had not been ugraded and had to sit in 24F with a family of 3 kids between 2-4 and 1 baby, all who were allowed to board before and individual who flies 250,000 miles a year (half the time in F) with all the overhead bins within 4 rows of me riddled with baby bottles, I would have been pretty upset. I think having families be asked to sit in a rear section of the aircraft is a pretty smart ideas...
 
ckfred
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 4:43 pm

Quoting OzarkD9S (Reply 5):
Maybe it's time for a "Family Zone" at the rear of the plane that boards after F and C. Then families and their children head to the back, then the middle of the aircraft boards. Booking websites would automatically show open seats only available in the rear when children under say 5 y/o are entered during the booking process. Then parents and small children can take their time to get situated without blocking the aisles in the center sections and are near other sympathetic travelers. Wouldn't work with open seating of course but it would seem to be a workable solution for both families and those flying without kids.

What if you're elite, like I am? I always get in the front of the coach cabin on AA, especially since the first few rows on the 3 side of the MD-80 have a bit more legroom than the back of the plane. Would you just stick me in the back of the plane, because I'm traveling with a child, despite being Liftetime Gold? Despite the fact that I have a child, now age 9, he does understand that misbehaving on a plane can get you thrown off, and possibly a chat with TSA.

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 6):
Sarcasm aside, I actually think preboarding for families with small children is a huge waste of time. Looking back on all of my flights for calendar year 2012, my observation has been that it doesn't save any time, it results in children being ON the airplane, STUCK in a seat for 30 minutes longer than everyone else, and half of the families with children don't even take advantage of it, which means we end up waiting on single mom with twelve baby kettles to board at the last minute anyway.

If you have a 18-month old, or even a 3 year old strapped into a car seat, he's not going anywhere. My son was almost 5 before he went into a booster seat, and he really couldn't figure out how to undo the buckles on the car seat. Once he was in his seat and belted, he was in until we let him out. Besides, there is the activity on the ramp to keep him occupied, as well as the book of toys and games.

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 15):
I make no claim that my daughter (nearly 2 1/2) is a "typical" child, but she's generally more content on the plane than in the gate area. She finds the gate area chaotic and confusing, and being on a plane is "cool" enough that it's entertaining in itself. Moreover, she's and we are guaranteed to have a seat on the airplane, which isn't necessarily the case on the plane.

Hear, hear. This is especially the case, when there is a delay. My son deals with delays very poorly. He just wants to get on the plane. The worst was when he was 18 months, and our flied was delayed to the point that AA didn't even assign a departure gate. The plane leaving ORD for ATL was stuck in BOS due to a Noreaster, and AA was trying to find a plane to swap. You don't even know where to sit, with H, K, and L all as potential departure points.
 
UALWN
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 5:50 pm

Quoting traindoc (Reply 26):
When I pay more to fly up front, I should not be pre-empted by families or other non F passengers (except military!).

Without necessary wanting to hijack the thread, why would you except military? Would you except all of them? Also those working 100% of their time in offices? What about firemen? Policemen? FBI/CIA officers? Coal miners? [They are all dangerous jobs.] Doctors/nurses? Teachers? [They are community-service jobs.] Just curious.
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fxramper
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 6:20 pm

UA changed the policy a while back. Kids go with group 2. The new United boarding policy is a joke. As a GS, I board with some idiot that gets elite access cause he opened a United World Explorer credit card? Sometimes I get to board before group one and sometimes not. Again, as I've stated a hundred times on this site - nothing with the new United is consistent.

Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 1):
Its likely because every study ever done has shown that small kids should board last.

Sounds good to me.
 
CZ346
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 6:44 pm

See, I've always noticed the Elite pax with kids understand that if they are unable or unwilling to control their kid, it is a major major major major inconvenience to other pax. I do however, this that if there is a family with very young children, they should be seated towards the back of the plane. I'm not talking 9 years old, or even really 5 or 6 years old.... I mean the kids who get on a plane and cry cry cry cry cry, who require extra special attention. Most children age 7-11 are excited to be on a plane, laugh, ask questions and are generally entertained well.

Again though, I'm only doing 20-30 PQS's a year and am basing a lot of this on 13-16 hour flights over the north pole. UA just needs to be consistent - Board F, then GS followed by 1K, then maybe bundle families in with the gold/silver MP pax.

Quoting fxramper (Reply 33):

I agree 100%. I do admit as GS I get bumped up 24h before the flight pretty much without fail, but when I am Y I get kind of miffed if they don't have a GS/1K boarding group and role gold/silver into there...
 
Vctony
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 7:03 pm

Quoting fxramper (Reply 33):
UA changed the policy a while back. Kids go with group 2. The new United boarding policy is a joke. As a GS, I board with some idiot that gets elite access cause he opened a United World Explorer credit card? Sometimes I get to board before group one and sometimes not. Again, as I've stated a hundred times on this site - nothing with the new United is consistent.

I haven't flown on UA since the merger, but I did fly on DL not long after everything was integrated and I was shocked at how consistent everything was. It's a shame that UA couldn't learn from the DL playbook.
 
IndustryInsider
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 7:08 pm

I have two four year old children and have no problem with this. Granted, I travel a lot and know what and what not to do, but I'm always amazed at everyone's sense of entitlement because of their kids. If you plan ahead, bring only what is necessary onto the aircraft, then you will be okay. My kids have always flown with me and my wife at least twice a month ever since they were 6 months old and I have never had to, nor felt like I needed, request extra time in boarding. Oh, and I'm Exec Plat on AA and Premier Gold on UA. Apart from that, I have never received any preferential treatment nor have I ever had to use my status to board early with my kids.

With that said, my kids have always been good. I have NEVER had any incident with them including excessive crying or even a tantrum as I have seen with other families. Often times people comment that they didn't know there was a child in the row behind/ in front of them let alone two.
 
AWACSooner
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 7:12 pm

Quoting CZ346 (Reply 30):
I was in 24F to start out with, and when they boarded 1K and GS, we got on the plane and the flight was probably already 1/4 full. There was a family of 6 who had gotten on, loaded up 5 bins with half of their stuff and sat down in seats together that were not theirs (24D-L, inclnuding my seat). When I asked them if they were in my seat, they requested that I switch seats with one of them so they could sit with their children. I typically do not mind it and happily oblidge, but they asked me to sit on the last row middle seat, inbetween a 4 year old kid and his father who both wanted aisle seats.

Tell me about it...
Three weeks ago, I flew UA out to LAS for a military exercise planning conference at LSV. Full fare economy ticket. Had an original seat assignment in economy plus due to that...UA arbitrarily kicked me back to a middle seat in regular E. Gate agent changed me to a window seat at least. Got on the plane...a mom, dad, and infant in a car seat boarded absolutely dead LAST on a completely full flight from IAH to LAS. Dad got a different seat assignment than mom and infant...mom and infant got the middle and aisle on my row. Mom thinks it'll be ok to put infant in car seat in the middle seat, completely blocking me. "Oh, just let me know if you need to get up to use the lav, I'll move this seat for you." That's nice lady, now what about if I need to egress the aircraft in an emergency? FA finally catches the stupidity and makes me give up my window so the car seat baby is in compliance with the FAA regs. After level-off, I do the gentlemanly thing and find the dad so that the family can sit together. Dad's in my originally assigned middle seat in the back...next to a fat tub of lard who smells like a cess pool. THAT was a wonder flight.

UA needs to walk a fine line here. Obviously catering to their frequent flier base is good business sense. However, there needs to be well thought-out (and well advertised) guidelines regarding family boarding and seating, not just by UA but by all the majors. Maybe having family boarding in the middle of the boarding process like WN does will be an idea to the rest of the industry.
 
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fxramper
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 7:36 pm

Quoting AWACSooner (Reply 37):
UA needs to walk a fine line here. Obviously catering to their frequent flier base is good business sense. However, there needs to be well thought-out (and well advertised) guidelines regarding family boarding and seating, not just by UA but by all the majors. Maybe having family boarding in the middle of the boarding process like WN does will be an idea to the rest of the industry.

Absolutely brilliant post and I'm sorry UA treated you like that. Only at the new UA will a military vet go from a E+ to where you ended up. Too bad Smisek wasn't there to greet you like he famously tells us on the demo video.
 
DTWLAX
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 7:47 pm

Quoting fxramper (Reply 33):
. As a GS, I board with some idiot that gets elite access cause he opened a United World Explorer credit card?

And you are the idiot who became GS only because your company paid for your tickets and not you!! So why are you complaining of somebody else who took advantage of what UA offered to him? Atleast he may be paying for his tickets himself.
 
UA772IAD
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 8:47 pm

Quoting fxramper (Reply 33):
The new United boarding policy is a joke. As a GS, I board with some idiot that gets elite access cause he opened a United World Explorer credit card?

Graceless.
 
contrails15
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 9:39 pm

Another major problem with the pre-boarding is the pile up of strollers on the jetbridge causing massive log jams on flights like MCO. It causes delays in the boarding. Ramp isn't gonna go up until just about go time however its gotten so bad with gate checks that the gate will radio for us to come up to get it out of the way.
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Prinair
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sat May 26, 2012 10:08 pm

This is wonderful. All airlines should follow this trend. Your choice to reproduce should not entitle you to special treatment.
Now, if the airlines could get rid of the WCHR service.... I've noticed over the years that most people request the service out of pure laziness...
PRINAIR : Puerto Rico International Airlines
 
AWACSooner
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sun May 27, 2012 12:51 am

Quoting Prinair (Reply 42):
Your choice to reproduce should not entitle you to special treatment.

I'd give my left you-know-what for you to tell that to your parents!
 
Ctermua
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sun May 27, 2012 2:20 am

I think the better question is, why would UA put out a PR about not providing Family boarding when we've only done it for a few months, after years of not providing Family boarding. It's another example for employees of UA that there is absolutely nobody in charge of this airline. Consistancy, as has been noted above, is non existent. We go from not boarding kids to a spurt of boarding..and then not boarding...with a PR to anger the travelling public to boot.

Never mind the actual boarding process.....which has changed so many times, with so many seating areas added and subtracted that it causes all of us to just shake our head at the sheer stupidity of those making these decisions.

I could go on and on. Trust me, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to any decisions made in the last three months...and we, as employees and you, the general public, all suffer for it.
 
FlyASAGuy2005
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sun May 27, 2012 3:22 am

Quoting contrails15 (Reply 41):


Idk about other airlines but with DL they usually do not pre-board families on their MCO flights for this very reason. At least that's been my observation in MSP.
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tx2fl
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sun May 27, 2012 3:30 am

Quoting UA772IAD (Reply 16):
Quoting UA772IAD (Reply 16):
As for further irritating elites- those that really have a problem with this practice, IMO, need to get over themselves. Pre-boarding has been a practice for decades, it's not a new concept. If you (not YOU UALFA...) have a problem with flying with other people, rent a car and drive or charter a BizJet.

That is true..and as far as overhead space goes the elites are the WORST offenders when it comes to not sharing the bin space. They want their roll-aboard and their computer bags that are the size of a roll-aboard in the overhead bins, because they need their "legroom". I've witnessed this SO many times I just want to take out those bags and put it in their laps because they are really the ones that cause the slowdown of the boarding process. As a gate agent and supervisor this was my biggest pet peeve. I don't know why the flight attendants onboard would never enforce it when they plainly saw passengers offending this one in the bin one under the seat policy.
 
GentFromAlaska
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sun May 27, 2012 3:44 am

My wife flew PVD-BWI-BNA on WN last week. She told me families with kids were permitted to board at both PVD and BWI and the end of the "A" or the beginning of the "B" boarding group. I suppose the change was made to insure the integrity of those who purchase advanced $10 boarding group assignments. which guarantees them a "A" boarding group assignment. She had a high "A" and was actually allowed to board before a family of four in BWI.
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woodsboy
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sun May 27, 2012 5:10 am

Its interesting to think back to when some of us were kids (for me, in the 70s) and when my family traveled there were never giant SUV size strollers, suitcases of toys and other ridiculous overdone kid-stuff to load. Nowdays you can see strollers the size of small apartments and more toys than would ever be realistically needed for any child brought everywhere including the airplane. Parents throw temper tantrums when they are forced to gate check this stuff which makes it miserable for everyone. Maybe it is better to get this out of the way at the beginning than to mix it in with everyone else, but maybe if families boarded with their small children along with rows like everyone else they would be motivated to cooperate and get to their seats faster? I dont know, I just know I would never bring the quantity of stuff I see these days on board for my son. He is fine with his backpack and we NEVER checked or used a stroller in the airport, that always seemed like more trouble than it was worth and from what I see, I was right!
 
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lightsaber
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RE: UA Ending Pre-board For Families With Small Kids

Sun May 27, 2012 5:20 am

Sadly. I understand this. To be honest, as a parent with two small kids, we have utilized the pre-boarding. I felt like I was 'cheating' getting the pre-boarding. But it helped.

Quoting skycub (Reply 19):
It is, apparently, no secret that United is not a carrier that caters to leisure travelers and travelers chasing the lowest fare.

Ok. That just ensured I earn my FF miles elsewhere. Over half of the road warriors I know have their FF miles spent by the spouse/kids.

Quoting woodsboy (Reply 48):
I dont know, I just know I would never bring the quantity of stuff I see these days on board for my son.

I agree with you. Now get my wife to agree...

Quoting contrails15 (Reply 41):
Another major problem with the pre-boarding is the pile up of strollers on the jetbridge causing massive log jams on flights like MCO.

Try to keep a child entertained at an airport post TSA screening for a long time without that stroller. While a pile up, they are a necessity.

Quoting AWACSooner (Reply 37):
UA needs to walk a fine line here. Obviously catering to their frequent flier base is good business sense. However, there needs to be well thought-out (and well advertised) guidelines regarding family boarding and seating, not just by UA but by all the majors. Maybe having family boarding in the middle of the boarding process like WN does will be an idea to the rest of the industry.

Now that makes sense. Let on some of the elites first. Do not put families first... I like that idea. For the record, I'm one of those families. But it has to be fair and balanced and your suggestion strikes me as workable.

Honestly, the family policies are from an era when load factors were less than 80%. With today's often full flights, something has to give.


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