United will revise its boarding procedure

United Airlines will implement a revised boarding procedure on Oct. 26, adding a sixth boarding group. 

Under the new process, the carrier will board middle seat passengers before passengers with aisle seats.

The new boarding procedure has been tested at one United hub airport and four of smaller airports, United said in a memo, and has proven quicker than the existing protocol. The memo also notes that boarding times have increased on United by an average of two minutes since 2019. 

The new procedure will be the same as the current one during pre-boarding. Boarding groups 1 and 2 will remain the same — first-class and business-class flyers, customers with MileagePlus loyalty status, and holders of United co-branded credit cards. The final boarding group, used for basic economy customers, won’t be changed either, although it will be called Group 6, rather than Group 5. United boards basic economy flyers last.

For other flyers in economy, United currently separates those with window or exit row seats as Group 3, but then lumps middle and aisle seat passengers together into Group 4.

Starting on Oct. 26, Group 3 will remain the same, but Group 4 will be used only for middle seat passengers. The new Group 5 will be for aisle seat flyers. 

Customers flying together on the same reservation will board together in the earliest applicable boarding group.

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