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Delta starts back-to-front boarding process during coronavirus pandemic

Delta seeks to improve social distancing with a boarding procedure change. Will it also improve the speed and efficiency of boarding? ( More...

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Jim Goldfuss 42
...but remember, they still have to let 1st class, premier, super premier, super duper premier, super duper premier plus, super premier plus gold, silver, and bronze, active military (I support this one), people named Fred who look important, people who need extra time, people travelling with people who need extra time, families, people travelling with families, people who wished they had families, people with a lot of miles, people with less miles but spend a lot, people who don't have many miles, don't spend a lot, don't fly a lot, but paid the fee to get on early.....and then we will board from the back of the plane forward....oh wait, everyone's if we can only get those over-sized carry-ons into the overhead bins...but wait...they can be checked in for free at the gate...bahaha to the fools who checked them curbside and paid for the can't even get on early....but that's another post :-)
idgie57 11
That sums it up pretty accurately. It's the airlines' version of participation trophies for everyone (with the obvious bona fide exceptions, of course).

I figured out the baggage check thing a while back, but at my age, it all boils down to whether or not I feel like dragging my (always conforming) carry-on all the way down to "gate 974 south wing G."
Cris Pugh 2
You made my day with this!
Dale Ballok 1
Dale Ballok 0
Dave Hahn 0
Classic, love your comment.
fred darnell 0
see above comment
captwright 0
I've flown twice in the last week on Delta (for essential work). I rolled my eyes when they announced this and then was amazed when everyone in first class actually waited to board last. This happened on both flights. Most of the passengers were wearing masks too. I guess fear is a powerful motivator.
Jim Prevo 16
They need to stop charging for checked bags. They should charge for large carry-on bags. Then boarding would be much faster and there would be ample room in the overhead compartments.
TAP has an interesting twist on this. On my last flights with them, before boarding started they separated passengers into two groups, people with roller bags and the rest. They then made the roller bags people wait while the others boarded first.
Nigel Gentry 2
Allegiant Air have very efficient boarding. You either pay for a checked bag or (cheaper) carry-on bag. Only bags that will go under the seat are free. They then have different groups with paid for carry-on bags or not. So, they can tell by your group number whether you should be dragging that roller-bag on board.
In addition to this, my local airport (Bellingham, Washington) doesn't have jetways. So, if your seat number is above a certain number, you go to the back door and below that number, board at the front.
selmer40 14
With the normal exceptions, back to front boarding was the way we did it up to about 2002 when I retired. It was fast and efficient. I do not remember a carry-on bag problem as we have today.
idgie57 20
I think the carry-on problem started when the major carriers started charging fees for the first checked bag. People are now cramming a week's worth of stuff into a bag that just isn't meant to hold it, and it takes longer to shove it into a narrow compartment. And it all takes up much more room than it should...
Dave Hahn 5
My pet peeve are those who think the overhead bins are just for THEM and as a result there is no room fit other bags. The one redeeming feature of first class if you can afford it are the larger bins for less people.
Gary Bain 6
My pet peeve is people in the back who put their carry on into the forward bins so they can grab them on the way off. Talk about slowing down getting off the plane. People towards the front have to to the back and people in the back want to get to the front. How inconsiderate and selfish can you get???
Dave Hahn 3
Welcome to society of today. Ain’t it grand
Tom Zaidman 1
If they start boarding from the front then no one will be silly enough to go to the back to leave the hand luggage and have to return when the plane arrives.
Dale Ballok 2
dj horton 2
That’s a good point. Also think it has to do with having to stand in *one more line* when you get to the airport - 12 ticket agent stations but only 3 grouchy ticket agents, half of the automated terminals are OTS... all before you get to spend 40 mis in the TSA Precheck line or an hour 20 if you don’t have it. Fortunate to have KCM but doesn’t help much when traveling with the family
JJ Johnson 11
This is the biggest DUH in aviation history. Whoever started zone boarding should be tarred and feathered. Always thought the zone board was just STUPID. First Class will get off first. Why all this class warfare stupidity inside an aircraft that is going to the same place at the same time with the same people?
Nigel Gentry 1
Also, people with lower zone numbers always seem to be in the aisle seat. So, when the window seat passenger comes along they have to get out and let the window seat passenger get in.
Adrian Piers 7
It is time to apply some discipline to CARRY ON BAGS!

IATA was very sensible about this but alas, airlines have allowed these rules to be forgotten and now we have a new normal where everybody tries to fit the kitchen sink into an overhead locker!

CARRY ON should be exactly that. No more bags WITH WHEELS allowed in the passenger cabin.

If you can't carry it, CHECK IT!
I don't know why this hasn't been done long before the pandemic. Back of the plane in first would speed things up...wouldn't get clog the aisle with slow-pokes trying to cram stuff in overhead bins. I'm glad Delta has seen the light & continue this procedure well beyond the end of this pandemic.
Dale Ballok 1
Same reason priority bags are loaded last and unloaded first!
bbabis 16
So it took Covid-19 for them to finally figure this out. I've mentioned this on every 'let us know how we're doing' card and survey that I've ever filled out. I know many others have also. Chalk one positive up to the bug.
idgie57 7
Same here. Hopefully they'll keep it this way.
Dale Ballok 4
...and we’ll see just how long they continue “cleaning” planes, the way they should’ve been all along!
Roy Hunte 3
Hopefully, other airlines will follow suit.
Jesse Carroll 4
This has been a thorn in my foot or butt, wherever for years!
First Class boards first because they are richer than most! Just kidding, maybe they earned it!
Then Military and they should be in First Class anyway making the High $ Class 2nd Class now. Then babies and handicap (not sure about this one). Now we are up to my plan!
Board rear to front starting with all windows seats 30 A&F last row (using 3 & 3 across for demo)then 29A&F, 28A&F all the way forward!
Followed by 30 B&E,29 B&E, 28 B&E, all the way forward!
Then we finish with 30 C&F, 29C&F, 28C&F etc;. Shut the doors and lets roll!
To me this would eleminate people having to stand and wait for some person standing in isle trying to lift their 100# carry on and causing a backup. Would also eliminate having to crawl over 2 rows of people if you get your window seat.
Just saying and just think about the flow of black sheep before hammering me with your comments. Stand the "Tube" aircraft body vertical, fill it with water and what would it do? Yep, it fills the back (bottom) first because water seeks its on level!
Gary Bain 2
Most people in First or Business are traveling on tickets bought by their employers. I know, been there, done that.
Dale Ballok 2
Why is it that us commoners can figure this out?...and without much thought?
gilgraham 4
I always try to get on at the last possible moment and I almost always check my bags. I find it amusing to watch people rush to get on first only to sit there an extra 30 minutes or more. Herd mentality.
Henry Wrobel 3
It sure is about time. They should have been doing this years ago. I can only hope it catches on and remains long afterward. I am sure that the first class and others find that waiting is better than having to watch us economy people trod by.
Joseph Sede 2
How stupid. Why would you not want the congested aisles. It adds adventure to your travel.
Its about Friggen time Shouldve been doing this all along..... Thank you DL
aurodoc 2
They should board from the front and back. They used to do this a long time ago. Southwest did some testing with rear door boarding with stairs and as long as you could climb up stairs it worked well.
Mike Mohle 2
Works great at Burbank!
Barry Witte 1
Southwest has 2 gates with dual jetbridges at Albany (NY). You can board front AND back simultaneously. It works well, and I always wondered why you don't see this at other airports.
gilhard 2
Boarding back to front is a lot easier when there is 8-10 pax on most flights now
Why not just move first / business class to the rear of the aircraft? Seats are movable, right?
Larry White 0
Do you think 1st/busi. class pax would like this? It's much noisier back there. I always choose a rear seat even though I'm able to fly 'up front'. Back there, more room usually and a place to stand & stretch my back, chat with the FAs when they have time. I typically sleep anyway and the 'noise' lulls me to sleep.
Stefan Sobol 3
The primary reason for a passenger to up their boarding priority is to get bin space. If the airlines would rigorously enforce the carry-on rules, this would be less of an issue.

A few years ago a university ran simulations for various boarding scenarios. The conclusion was that random boarding is actually the most efficient in terms of getting the plane loaded in the least amount of time. Of course, that also negated all the things the airlines due to stratify their passengers (and the revenue that goes with it).

The Southwest boarding process comes closest to the random boarding order system, and they turn their planes faster than most other operators.
it was always awkward to be a first class passenger,seated first, and then have the coach passengers going by after you were seated,only to peek at what you were doing or being served..this also might help with the carry on bag issues that have developed through the years...
dee9bee 1
I see your point. If my seat was in first class right now and they were using the front (L1) door for boarding, I'd consider boarding later, rather than sooner. On the other hand, with the current dismal load factors, it may not matter much.
Dale Ballok 0
I just hate it when I’m in first and the other boarding passengers interfere with the f/a getting me my drink/drinks! lol
Bruce Horwitz 1
Dale - actually, that's part of the reason FC boards first, at least historically. FC got beverage service while the main cabin boarded.
WhiteKnight77 1
When first class is right behind the boarding door, getting drinks while other passengers board might be difficult.
Bruce Horwitz 2
Well, part of the idea, in addition to giving the "free" drink to FC passengers who paid $1000 for a seat :^) is to let the rest of the passengers see what they are missing... and if they have to wait while FAs do things for FC, so be it. And yes, I have certainly had to wait a minute at the door while FAs serve FC a drink or hang up their coat.
WhiteKnight77 1
Years ago, Mythbusters visited this very issue and found that random boardingwas the fastest and by around 10 minutes whereas the windo, middle, aisle was just a hair slower than the back to front method. As others here have pointed out, with people wanting to bring large carry-on bags onboard (you know, the roller duffle bags) and taking up the entire bin with them, it slows boarding down due to needing to find a place.

While I do not want airlines to make much more money off of what has always been free until Spirit started doing such, is that all bags have to either fit in the carry-on sizer at the gate or they have to check the bag and get charged for it.

It would also help if airlines actually made passengers wait for their proper zone. With people from zone 4 boarding while zone 2 is boarding, it does slow down the process. Air Canada actually made people wait for their zone the one time I flew on them and it seems boarding went faster and smoother than letting people board no matter which zone they were in.

Mythbusters preview with results:
bob Johnson 1
One more time to hog all the overheads!
Doug Fehmel 1
That's the way I used to board the old DC-9's when I was flying around Western Europe in the 80's.
I don't get it. Surely front to back or back to front makes no difference at all unless passengers are pre-ordered.
You line the passengers up in order of seating row from high to low and load through the front or
you line the passengers up in order of seating row from low to high and load through the back.

The problem with loading only through the back has essentially always been that there's a change of the nose wheel leaving the ground!
I've just re-read it. Maybe this is just a US thing. Most European operators will board at both ends if they can. It's up to the passengers which door they take - and most will get it right!
fred darnell 1
hey JIm, my name is fred, i look important because i fly non u know, nonrevs get nothing but a seat in the airport........
Love the changes Delta is making.
john malone 1
It's about time! I always take the survey and sarcastically state they should add a few more boarding groups. I never understood why people pay more to sit on the plane longer.
Justthefacs 1
Should also include loading first and business last. Why the disconnect if safety is the issue.
Jean Johnson 1
I see comments about if you can't carry it, check it. Well, when you're 75 years old and you can't carry your bag, you're not supposed to have wheels? I can't carry a bag without wheels. This is the time of life when people tote their meds and other items considered very important that should not be checked.
I think some of these comments about carrying bags, etc, must be written by younger people who have not yet experienced what an older person can't do.
As far as checked bags, the first should definitely be free. I'm from a time where the cheapest seats were as roomy as first class is now. I first flew in 1967. Those were the days.
Maybe after a certain age such as 65 or so, you should be able to fly those so-called roomier seats without charge. They are, after all, not as roomy as 1967 seats.
WhiteKnight77 1
The small carry-ons with wheels are one thing (they should fit in the sizer), but it is the big 30" long rolling duffle bags that people like to use is another. Any bag longer than 21" should be checked, not brought into the pland and stuffed in the overhead bins.

I too had my first flight in 1967 and remember that carry-ons were small enough they just had 2 handles and usually had airline logos on them. While I cannot blame people for wanting to not check a bag, people should be mindful of the size and how much room they take up in the bins so others can use them and not just a few.
RustySimmons 1
Isn't this how they used to do it, a decade or two ago? I remember "Rows 25 and higher... Rows 20 and higher...Rows 15 and higher..." being the norm. That was until we had to start handing out all the "participation trophies" described elsewhere in comments.
CactusDave 1
Well said, Jim. In normal times, I fly many time per month. This type of complex boarding processes is one of ther reasons I rearely fly Delta. Even with it's imperfections, Southwest's system is the most simple and seems to me the fastest.
Conti540 0
The link takes you to Fox News. Just an FYI.
Brent Lee 0
We fly first class only. I’ll gladly wait for all others on board & aisle clear before boarding, which we normally do anyway.
When I can go to variance
OQKBjL is p n r no
Boyd Ellison 0
The trucking companies and the Post Office learned about queueing theory decades ago. I think the airlines have ignored it for so long because the average schmuck gets angry when confronted with a system that seems to inconvenience him. Just listen to the grumbling in a single queue, multiple server system. You'll hear the same people grumbling in a tail to nose loading system, even though it knocks many minutes off loading time.


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