If you think the boarding process pains you as a passenger, it pains the airlines even more so. Every minute you wait to board is a minute they’re not flying, and for the flight attendants, it’s minutes where they’re not getting paid, either.
Airlines want to get you on board, and get moving, so they can turn the plane around faster and get the next plane to the gate.
Right now, the biggest impediment to boarding time is carry-on bags. For the moment, let’s conveniently ignore the reason why more travelers are carrying roller bags onto the airplane — the result is, they are slowing down the process.
Road warriors know how to get on the plane and get their bag situated, and most of us have enough status with airlines to get on board early in the process and avoid this particular hassle. But most travelers are not so lucky and somebody is always boarding last.
This summer, Delta Air Lines will experiment with speeding up the process by having airline employees stow a passenger’s bag above their seat before general boarding begins. This would be used on long, single-aisle planes such as Delta’s 757 and 737-900.
Delta tested the Early Valet service last summer in two markets and it resulted in some time savings. Now the airline will try it in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Seattle, New York and Los Angeles, on about 4 percent of the airline’s daily flights. It will be free for now.
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Update: The International Airline Transport Association followed with new recommended guidelines for carry-on bag sizes.