United Airlines Is Rolling Out a Major Change to Its Boarding Process

The changes will go live on October 26.

united airlines
Photo courtesy of United Airlines
Photo courtesy of United Airlines

If you've flown more than, let's say, twice in your life, you've probably pondered this question as well: Why is it that airlines don't board passengers depending on what kind of seat they're occupying? Wouldn't it just be easier and faster for window seat travelers to hop onto the plane before middle and aisle seat passengers?

Apparently, United Airlines agrees with you—so much so that they're changing their boarding policies accordingly. In an internal memo that was shared this week with The Points Guy and other media outlets, United Airlines announced that it is changing up its boarding process starting on October 26.

Dubbed WILMA—which stands for Window, Middle, Aisle—the new process aims at making boarding faster and more efficient for everyone. What that entails is that, depending on the kind of seat you're assigned, you'll be part of a specific group. Not all United Airlines boarding groups will be affected by WILMA, though—Pre-boarding, Group 1, and Group 2, though, will remain unvaried.

Group 3 is when things start to change. Once the process is implemented, Group 3 will include all those in exit row seats as well as non-revenue travelers and all those sitting in window seats (the W in Wilma). Group 4 will be reserved for middle seat passengers (WILMA's M), and Group 5 will include aisle seat travelers (the A in WILMA). Finally, Group 6 will include those with basic economy tickets.

According to United Airlines, which has reportedly already tested the new feature in a few domestic airports, the revamped boarding process saved up to two minutes of boarding time. While that might seem like a small amount of time, two minutes per flight definitely add up during the day, and can lead to fewer delays and smoother travel procedures overall.

This isn't the first time this year that United Airlines has rolled out efforts to make flying smoother and more comfortable for everyone. Earlier this July, United became the first US airline to equip its plane interiors with braille, and it also announced it is planning to potentially adding raised letters, numbers, and signs to further help disabled passengers navigate the space inside of its airplanes plane. In September, the airline also announced positive changes for wheelchair users, and next year it is launching a new filter on its website to help passengers determine if a specific plane can comfortably accommodate their wheelchair.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.