In April, United got rid of pre-boarding for families. Previously, families with small children could board before general boarding. According to CNN, United’s spokesperson said:
“We figured it would be better to simplify that process and reduce the number of boarding groups.”
Uh, okay. Whatever. That reasoning sounds like, well, an excuse. It seems there are two frames of mind to this issue: the parents who want extra time to get their kids, carseats, and gear settled onto a plane before the masses descend, and the other people who get frustrated at the amount of room taken up in the overhead bins by families. The comments in the article above are almost evenly split. Some people wonder if they’re trying to drive off families, some speculate that it’s about people who pay for early boarding getting irritated by families boarding with them. Others say all the families should have to ride in the back.
I don’t have kids yet, so I don’t have any experience myself on that side of it. However, it does seem like it would be easier to board a few minutes early to get the carseats buckled and the kids in them, before having people tapping their foot while they wait for you. Also, I fly enough so that I have status, so I get to board early and don’t usually have to worry about overhead bin space. My concern with having families with small children boarding with everyone else is that it will end up slowing the entire boarding process down. I wonder if United is accounting for that…..
I think the real issue here is that airlines aren’t consistent with their bag policies. Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t a stroller that has to go in the overhead bin count as your non-personal item carry-on? So if families are getting on a plane and taking up more than their allotted space, it seems more like a problem with the airline and less with families in general. If the policy is one carry-on and one personal item per passenger, both within a certain size, then everyone should have to abide by it, whether they are a frequent flier or a family of four.
Readers, what do you think? Should families with small children be allowed to board first? Or is United doing the right thing in having them board with everyone else?