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United’s New Boarding Procedure Could Make the Gate Less Stressful

Even after arriving at your gate with time to spare, the most stressful part of flying is not over. Even before the gate agents announce boarding, passengers begin the battle to be among the first on the aircraft.

However, passengers’ need to be first on the plane often causes confusion and crowding at the gate, which is why United is testing out a new boarding procedure.

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Previously, the airline assigned passengers to five different groups, each with their own separate lane for boarding. As soon as passengers in the first group were called, those in group five could wait in their own lanes. But with five different boarding groups all waiting in line at the same time, overcrowding was a common problem.

While United won’t change the order of who boards (premier and first class members in first groups, then window, middle, then aisle seats), the airline will test changes at the gate, One Mile at a Time reported.

Passengers at select “testing” gates will notice the absence of five boarding lanes. Instead, there will only be two lanes for boarding. After the first two groups have boarded, the first lane will remain open for priority passengers. The second lane will switch to board passengers in groups three through five.

The new boarding process is meant to “experience less crowding while boarding the aircraft” and “create more space and easier access to the boarding door,” according to an email United sent to customers.

“Our customers have told us they want a better experience when boarding, including more communication and we are looking for ways to improve it for them,” a United spokesperson told Travel + Leisure. “We’ve been testing different processes, and soliciting feedback to find a more customer friendly boarding method that also helps employees.”

United is currently testing its new boarding process at Los Angeles International Airport.

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