Delta Air Lines Tests Southwest-esq Boarding Procedure

Delta Air Lines Testing New Boarding Procedure


Delta's Atlanta Hub

Delta’s Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Hub

Washington, DC – April 25, 2013 ( Delta Air Lines is testing a new boarding procedure at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport (ATL) in an effort to speed up boarding times. However, this particular boarding procedure immediately screams Southwest Airlines.

Delta is based at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport where Southwest is quickly becoming a large player as a result of the AirTran merger.

At Southwest Airlines, passengers are given a boarding number which belongs to a boarding group (or zone, if you’d like). Passengers are called to line up in a designated area when their boarding group is called. Unlike Delta, Southwest has no seat assignments, it’s first come first serve. The Southwest boarding procedure is efficient, but is jokingly known as the “Cattle Call” or “Roundup.”

Delta, as a full service carrier, offers seat assignments and other perks.

New Boarding Procedure Specifics

I had a chance to watch this new boarding procedure first hand. In fact, I took Delta flight 1038 earlier this week from Atlanta Hartsfield International (ATL) to Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) when the new “test” boarding procedure was used at gate T4.

While awaiting boarding, an announcement was made about the new test procedure. It was also noted a survey would be conducted at the end of the flight.

As to the new procedure being tested — Sky Priority passengers, mostly frequent fliers who travel Delta significantly, still board through the priority lane. If you’re not a Sky Priority passenger, the procedure calls for passengers to line-up along a wall according to boarding zone number.

As Zone 1 was told to wait along one wall and Zone 2 against another, the gate area turned into a rat race of passengers rushing to stand in line along the wall. Passengers with large carry on bags jockeyed for position.

Unfortunately, no surveys upon arrival at Washington National.

Opinion of New Procedure

A procedure which screams Southwest Airlines is not a good when it comes to a full service carrier.

I didn’t witness any time benefit from the use of this new procedure. I should note, the procedure is only being used at select gates for select flights. If anything, it reminded me of Southwest Airlines. While Southwest is a great no-thrills carrier, Delta’s product is vastly different.

At the end of the day, if you want to speed boarding up, the problem with excess carry-on luggage must be dealt with.

FlyersPulse has reached out to Delta Air Lines for comment and is awaiting a response.

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