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Delta Zone Boarding

Sun Nov 30, 2003 10:25 pm

I've now taken several flights on Delta in which they've used their new zone boarding system. (e.g. MIA - ATL x 3 ; ORF - ATL x 2)

For those of you unfamiliar zone boarding means, every boarding pass is assigned a Zone 1 - 7 (First class and elite Skymiles members get Zone 1 - 3). The gate agent calls for boarding by zone number a la SouthWest.

I've got to say I don't like it and it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Everyone's zone # seems to be calculated by a mix of their FF status / the fare they paid / and their seat assignment. But since FF status and fare factor into the equation, you get a lot of people in window and middle seats climbing over people seated in the aisles.

Anyone else have any comments on this or can anyone from Delta provide some logic for the system?


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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Sun Nov 30, 2003 11:25 pm

We have been doing this at AA for few years now. We board by groups. We board first class, then group 1,which is FF status and first row in coach. Then group 2 etc.. starting from back to front. It took some time to catch on, but seems to work now..
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Sun Nov 30, 2003 11:29 pm

I think it makes sense when it comes to finding overhead space for handluggage.
Priority to Elite status and high yield pax is a good idea. I am a f/a with LX and find it hard to explain to someone who paid alot more than most, or a Circle member, that I have to put his bag in the hold because there's no more space in the bins, while backpackers travelling on heavily discounted fares stow all they have up there!
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Sun Nov 30, 2003 11:29 pm

Lufthansa uses a zone boarding system, but there's no preference to people with higher FF status on that: on a narrowbody they'll have zones 1-6 with 1 and 6 being the window seats, 2 and 5 the middle and 3 and 4 the aisle seats: during the boarding process they call up the zones for boarding...

... and it might even work if they'd look at the zone numbers printed on the boarding cards and really only let in the pax with the respective zones - but in all my LH flights, I've never once seen a person sent back because his/her zone wasn't up for boarding yet. Result: often enough total chaos while boarding...
Smile - it confuses people!
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 1:04 am

As long as my seat is assigned I really don't care. As long as I get my seat, I'm Happy Happy Happy.
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 1:08 am

I've always thought that airlines should board window seats first, then middles, then aisles. I think that Shuttle by United tried this a few years ago, but it didn't really work that well. The main problem was probably couples and families flying together -- if they were seated next to each other, they wouldn't board together.

Guess my opinion is just wrong in this case.
"Lose" is not spelled with two o's!!!!
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:01 am

Which other US airlines use this group number boarding (in addition to ones mentioned in this topic)? In the past couple of yrs I've only flown AA, UA, and NW. NW still boards by row numbers. Invariably, I'm always group 3 on both UA and AA.

I was actually wondering about this process as well. Was never certain if it was a random assignment at check-in or if it was based on mileage status, fare/class, etc. I know that overhead space is never a guarantee, esp nowadays when it seems most people try to avoid checking in baggage if possibe, but it seems I always have better luck with getting space,esp closer to my seat, when the aircraft is boarded by row number rather than group number. If I don't have a carry on, I don't mind which one is used really, as long as I have an assigned BR715 said.
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:26 am

HP just started a group boarding process. At first the groups were assigned by starting from the back and then moving forward, kind of like condensing certain rows into groups. We then switched it to where the groups are assigned by zones, ie...back windows, then middles, then aisles...etc. It works VERY well and really does speed up the boarding process. We don't have the congestion at the bottom of the jetway anymore. When I board, especially if we are in a hurry, I am very strict with the boarding process and don't let anyone on until I call their group! It was a great idea.
Catch a ride on a smile!
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:34 am

Being on board a long time is a punishment - not a good thing! I love flying, sure, but I hate sitting on the ground - I prefer to look out the big window airports or explore sooner than spending more time in a 1x1 square metre patch that I get to call home for the next long while - more than enough time to explore the tray-table  Big grin

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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:34 am

I believe Shuttle did try that, but I don't think boarding like that would work in hub cities. A lot of times you start boarding and you have people connecting or eating in the food court, and i think it would kind of add to the craziness. Anyone former Shuttle flyers have comments on it??
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 4:01 am


You'll be pleased to know that Popular Science layed out HP's boarding system in the "Future of Aviation" edition. It really is a good edition and recommend it to everyone.

Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. - A. Einstein
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 4:15 am

I'm a SM with DL and I didn't like the zone boarding. I don't understand what's wrong with first class, elites, special assistance, and then back to front. In that system than overhead space isn't a problem. I take issue with the notion that because the guy next to me bought his ticket one day before the flight as opposed to buying it two weeks before that he is entitled to overhead space and I am not. I sense another socioeconomic/class warfare conversation brewing...
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 7:14 am

One of my favorite movie scenes is in "Meet the Parents" when Ben Stiller is waiting to board his plane at the end. No one is left around, yet the gate agent won't let him board until his row number is called -- I've never seen anyone that strict about it, but it's hilarious.
"Lose" is not spelled with two o's!!!!
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 8:31 am

Hopefully, anyone assigned to the bulkhead row in coach gets to board before the rest of the cabin. If they have a carry on, they have to have space in the overhead. It is bad for them when they have to board last.
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 8:46 am

At AA, the bulkhead seats board in the first group, due to restricted overhead space, and they are usually have some sort handicap, or are parents with children.
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 10:29 am

Being a mainly Delta flyer, I have prefered the regular boarding process Delta use's throughout most of it's system. I have flown on AA, where they use group numbers, and I have found that they can be confusing and somewhat inefficient. However, whichever method is used I don't really think there is that big of a difference. As far as bulkhead room goes, I don't think that is really an issue. Whether you use a group or zone number, or by priority there is usually plenty of room. That's just my opinion.

Thanks and Gig Em!
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 11:22 am

i like the regular system.... this way you don't have to climb over a ton of people to get through.

I remember one time when there were a lot of medillian members on a flight (my dad was one) and we got on... put our stuff away... sat down (really quickly), and this obvious first time DL flyer gave us so much crap! It was what would now be classified as air (Really ground) rage!

it's hard enough when they do this process... and its a lot harder when you have to climb over twice, 3X, 4X, 5X as many people
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 11:50 am

I'll have to check that out Planemaker! It is a great system so far  Smile
Catch a ride on a smile!
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 1:58 pm

I don't like zones, by DL, AA, or WN as I have experienced them. Premium cabin, Premium Flyers + Handicaps, back to front.

Fantasy World No carry-ons - then we can all do open boarding.
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:13 pm

CO still boards by row numbers, which I find much more efficient than zone/group boardings.
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:38 pm

I think it works fine on WN because you don't have assigned seats.
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Tue Dec 02, 2003 1:07 pm

Shuttle by United's zone system was to divide the plane into window, middle, aisle, and also front and back, for a total of six zones. They didn't split up groups; everyone on the same record got the lowest zone applied to a person in that party.

People don't have to think as hard with zone boarding, you just wait until the agent says the number printed nice and big on your boarding pass, rather than figure out if seat 34D is row 35 and higher or not. From watching planes board, harder than you think.

It can be taken to an absurd level. I noticed that United Express/SkyWest has started putting zone numbers on their boarding passes. The only flight that used them was a Brasilia flight: "Zone 1 may now board" -- nobody gets on. "Zone 2 may now board" -- nobody gets on. "Zone 3 may now board" -- everybody gets on. The other flights (Brasilia and CRJ-200) we just boarded all at once.

David / MRY
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Tue Dec 02, 2003 1:14 pm

Yeah, group boarding in general is obviously nothing new. I prefer it than row numbers.

As for AA... I think for a while, at least when I was working as an agent, exit row was also group one, and that may still be the case.

Group one also appears when the WCHR edit code is added (AA).

But on a side note; families do not get group one unless, one of the family members has status or a special service edit code- in that case anyway, only one person has "Group 1" printed on the boarding card and the others may board with that passenger.
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Tue Dec 02, 2003 1:54 pm

I can also confirm AA used rhe group boarding I was group number 6.

It was weird because I am nbot used to boarding this way as I usually fly Southwest alot!! I kept forgetting my seat is reserved no one will take seat is reserved no one will take it lol and it wa smy fav seat 25F on the S80!!!!

Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
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RE: Delta Zone Boarding

Tue Dec 02, 2003 11:51 pm

You mean Delta allows handicap/children/elderly preboards now? They haven't the past several times I've flown them, unless the handicapped/child/elderly was a "medallion" passenger.

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