United Passengers Threaten Boycott Over New Boarding Rules
The airline just adopted a new boarding method that has some travelers frustrated.
When we're at the airport, we typically rush through check-in and stress over the security line so that we can make it to our gate on time. But the frustrations don't end there: Boarding processes, which feel like they should be simple, are often lengthy and confusing. With that in mind, airlines regularly switch up the rules to make things more efficient and put passengers at ease. At least, that's the intention. Read on to find out why United Airlines travelers are threatening to boycott over the carrier's new boarding process.
United just changed its boarding rules.
Getting on your next United flight will look a little different. On Oct. 26, the carrier changed its boarding process to implement a method known as "WILMA," which stands for window, middle, and aisle seating. This process prioritizes passengers in window seats, allowing them to board before those seated in a middle or aisle seat, regardless of row.
According to an internal memo provided to Best Life, the new rules don't change anything for United's pre-boarding or groups one through three. Instead, the difference is that group four—which previously included passengers in middle and aisle seats—has now been divided into two boarding groups. Group four is reserved for travelers booked in middle seats, while group five is for those in aisle seats only.
Meanwhile, group one remains reserved for first and business-class passengers, as well as upper-level members in United's loyalty program. Group two still includes other loyalty tiers, those with Premier Access or priority boarding, and those with certain co-branded credit cards. Finally, group three is now for passengers in window seats, exit row seats, and non-revenue passengers (such as traveling staff members).
Travelers have already started sharing complaints about the change.
While the change may seem minimal to some, not all United passengers are thrilled about the new rules. In fact, travelers have already taken to social media to share their thoughts about the carrier's updated boarding process.
"With this approach, window seat passengers will have first dibs on overhead bins. Unless the gate personnel strictly enforce the two item rule, I predict some interesting dialogue and disruptions to occur during boarding," one person wrote in an Oct. 26 X post.
Another X user expressed their frustrations immediately after the WILMA method was implemented. "Your boarding process [expletive] sucks @United," they wrote. "I guess having seat 8 means you board last and nowhere to put your bag so you have to check it."
Some are even threatening to boycott the airline.
Some travelers have gone so far as to say they will be boycotting the airline after the switch. "Will NEVER even consider flying United with their new boarding policy," one person wrote in an Oct. 26 X post.
Another user posted that same day, "Just found out United plans to board from window row in instead of traditional boarding to save two minutes. I will now send an email to my assistant to make sure she never books me on a United flight or anyone else in the company. Dumbest idea I've ever heard of."
Others sounded off in the comment section of a Today Show TikTok video covering the change. "Well, not flying United," one person responded. "I'm an aisle girlie and now I'm always going to lose out on overhead space."
But this is not the first time United has used this boarding method.
If you've been flying with United for some time, this boarding process may seem familiar. According to USA Today, United had been previously using WILMA boarding up until 2017, when it introduced basic economy seating.
The carrier is hoping to speed up the boarding process by reimplementing this method. In its internal memo, United noted that its boarding times are up by two minutes since 2019, but said that boarding moved faster when it previously tested WILMA.
"By doing this, we're saving two minutes," Linda Jojo, United's chief customer service officer, said in an interview on the Today Show. "So if we can get two minutes back on this flight, and two minutes back on the next flight, we're gonna help especially those customers traveling later in the day to be closer on time."