American Airlines will now end boarding even earlier

Apr 27, 2020

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American Airlines has been busy making changes throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

Two weeks ago, we saw the airline extend elite status across the board. It also introduced two new creative and generous promotions, including the ability to earn Million Miler status through credit card spend. Additionally, AA’s update to the award change and redeposit fee structure wasn’t necessarily good news, depending on how you redeem your miles

Last week, it added detailed upgrade and standby lists to the mobile application and also introduced automatic award reinstatement to select tickets.

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And today, the carrier’s back with an interesting policy update regarding how early you need to arrive at the gate before your flight.

Previously, you needed to be at the gate 15 minutes before departure for domestic flights, and 30 minutes for international ones. As of today, the carrier has added an additional 15 minutes to those requirements, bumping it to 30 minutes for domestic and 45 minutes for international, according to an update on its website.

Related: American Airlines joins Delta and United in extending elite status and more

As part of this update to its conditions of carriage, the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier is also changing when boarding ends. Previously, it ended 10 minutes before departure; now, that’ll be 15.

These updates come at a time when airlines are beginning to implement social distancing on flights. We’ve seen Delta already adopt a formal policy on social distancing.

But American says this update isn’t actually related to the coronavirus.

Related: Preboarding screenings and new cleaning procedures: How US airlines are working to keep flyers healthy

Instead, an AA spokesperson explains that “to process standby customers, our final boarding will be at 15 minutes to allow the agent time to unseat misconnects, no-shows, etc., and accommodate standby customers.”

Clearly, these updates seem designed to help the carrier with its mission to hit D0 — or departing exactly on time. By padding the boarding times, the airline will help its gate agents hit the D0 metric. However, this is certainly bad news for those with tight connections, who’ll now need to sprint to their next gate.

Though the spokesperson states that the “door still closes 10 minutes before departure,” the change may create pressure for gate agents to close flights earlier. Either way, confirmed passengers won’t be allowed to board within 15 minutes of departure, if agents follow the new policy to the letter.

As such, if you’re traveling anytime soon, be sure to pay attention to these new requirements. Otherwise, you’ll forfeit your seat and need to get on a later flight.

All photos by the author. 

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