Give American Airlines credit for trying a new method to board passengers more quickly. Airlines constantly tinker with the boarding process, and this time American says it has found a way to cut an average of two minutes from the 40 minutes to 45 minutes that it takes to board a narrowbody aircraft. American narrow bodies take off about 3,000 times a day, so two minutes per flight is a lot of time.
American’s new method involves allowing passengers who are traveling light, with only a carry-on item that fits under the seat in front of them, to board early, before “group two.” The policy was implemented systemwide on Thursday, after testing that began several months ago in seven cities.
The intent is to improve on-time performance, said Kevin Doeksen, American director of customer planning, in an interview. American, like all airlines, boards its premium passengers first. “To have this group of customers follow the premium passengers basically shortens the buildup (involving) premiums looking for bin space,” he said. “This group is very quick because once they get on board, they are not looking for bin space. They board the aircraft and find seating and sit down.”