United Airlines Aims To Speed Boarding Time With New Method

United Airlines said it can cut boarding time by allowing economy window seat passengers to board first.

A young girl sleeps comfortable in an airplane seat.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

United Airlines plans to use a new boarding method aimed at reducing total boarding time, the airline said in an employee memo.

Starting October 26 under the plan, dubbed window-middle-aisle (WILMA), passengers in United’s economy boarding Group 4 with window seats will board first, followed by those with middle seats to be followed by passengers with aisle seats, according to the memo, which was shared with Kiplinger.

There will be no change in procedure for passengers in first or business class, those with priority boarding, customers with disabilities, unaccompanied minors, active-duty military, Global Services members, families traveling with children two years old and under, or Premier 1K members, United said.

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The news comes as some airlines, including Delta Air Lines, are rethinking their travel rewards and loyalty programs. Delta recently modified several planned cuts to its SkyMiles loyalty program following customer backlash.

At United, the decision to try WILMA was due to an increase in boarding times of up to two minutes since 2019. The airline said that, after testing WILMA boarding at four domestic lines and one hub, it found that the method is faster. By having quicker boarding times, the company said that its Net Promoter Score will increase.

According to a 2014 VOX report, the WILMA concept  has been around for more than a decade and is one of the fastest boarding methods.

A drop in air travel ticket prices

Domestic round-trip airfare is averaging $257 per ticket, down 11% from the same time last year and the same time in 2019, according to Hopper, an online travel booking platform. Average ticket fares are expected to peak at about $283 in late November and early December during the big holiday travel season.

If you are preparing to travel this holiday season, here are 24 travel websites to find deals and help save you money.

Also, check out Kiplinger’s top rated airline credit card rewards programs.

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Joey Solitro

Joey Solitro is a freelance financial journalist at Kiplinger with more than a decade of experience. A longtime equity analyst, Joey has covered a range of industries for media outlets including The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, Market Realist, and TipRanks. Joey holds a bachelor's degree in business administration.