United Airlines is debuting new plans to let economy passengers with window seats board first.
The airline’s new boarding process, called WILMA (windows, middle, aisle), is rolling out just ahead of the holiday travel months, with an aim to speed up boarding efficiencies. United is projecting that it will shed off two minutes of boarding, which will help the planes take off on time. Overall, the airline will be able to add a new flight to the schedule each day.
However, some passengers are airing their grievances about the new plans.
“It’s an inconvenience for people that might be paying more and still have to wait longer to board to seat window passengers first,” Sherry Brazil, a traveler passing through Newark Liberty International Airport, told FOX Business.
For some, the move is strengthening allegiance to the window seat.
“As a window person, I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal,” Tik Toker Leona Marlene said, whose account features travel tips and advice. “But I could see aisle people being a little bit bothered by this.”
Passengers at Newark Airport said that access to overhead space is a reason why customers pay higher prices for certain seats, which has a higher guarantee rate when boarding in the first few groups.
United told FOX Business that it is in the process of retrofitting its aircraft with larger overhead bins that will have enough space for each customer to have a carry-on suitcase onboard. The larger bins are also available on all of United’s new aircraft. The updated storage capacity will “largely eliminate the need for customers in later boarding groups to gate check their luggage.”
Yet, the new updates will not be completed until 2026, according to United Airlines. Meantime, customers who do not secure overhead space will have to check their carry-on to the final destination.
Another passenger said that the amount of time it takes to get on a plane depends on how quickly the passengers move themselves.
“If people take the time with the bags and things like that, then the purpose is defeated,” a flier at Newark Airport said.
Others are on board with the new plans.
“This is a genius idea,” Tik Toker Gina M. said. “I travel two times a month, and I hate having to wait for people in the aisle to get up.”
Another Tik Toker, who claims to be an “aisle person,” says that he loves the idea.
“Why sit in a cramped plane when I can board right before we leave?” Neko Swift said.
It’s not the first time United has used the WILMA process. The airline started testing out the new process at five airports in 2017 after introducing its Basic Economy, carry-on restricted ticket.
Other airlines have tested out variations of the system before but have reverted back to giving priority boarding to first class and business class passengers.
United will still allow early boarding for those with disabilities, unaccompanied minors and active-military members and priority boarding for passengers with first or business class seats, in addition to status flyers or those with credit card advantages.
“Anything that makes the process go faster is fine with me,” passenger Robert told FOX Business. “I’m willing to give it a try.”