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Delta Air Lines is scrapping its back-to-front boarding process

Sept. 15, 2021
3 min read
Delta Air Lines is scrapping its back-to-front boarding process
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One of Delta's last remaining pandemic-era policy adjustments has just come to an end.

On Tuesday, Sept. 14, the Atlanta-based carrier resumed its "normal," zone-based boarding process after nearly 18 months of loading coach passengers from back to front.

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The carrier confirmed the move in the following statement to TPG:

As Delta continues to welcome customers back onboard, we also continue to explore opportunities that keep people moving efficiently and enhance the airport experience. Beginning September 14, 2021, customers will be invited to board according to zones that correspond to loyalty status or the seat product purchased; customers in Main Cabin and Basic Economy will no longer board back-to-front. This update drives efficiency in the boarding process, making it faster and easier for both customers and employees as we continue to listen and respond to feedback.

In April 2020, Delta modified its boarding process to encourage social distancing, saying at the time that "The new process builds on the metered, or spaced, boarding that began in early April, and boards fewer customers at a time to allow for more distance between them." While premium customers were invited to preboard, those seated in coach were asked to board from the back of the plane to the front.

Going forward, Delta's boarding process will begin with preboarding for those who need extra time or assistance, following by premium-cabin flyers, including Diamond Medallion elites. The remaining travelers will be loaded as follows. The airline's Fly Delta mobile app will notify you of the exact time when your seat is called for boarding through a new "virtual queuing" system.

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  • Comfort+ cabin.
  • Sky Priority (Platinum and Gold Medallions and other partner elites).
  • Main Cabin 1 (Silver Medallions, cobranded credit card holders and select partner elites).
  • Main Cabin 2 (coach flyers).
  • Main Cabin 3 (coach flyers booked in deep-discount fare classes: T, X and V).
  • Basic economy (booked in the E fare class).

Returning to pre-pandemic boarding zones comes months after Delta's largest competitors made similar adjustments. In March, Southwest and JetBlue reinstated their pre-pandemic boarding process, followed weeks later by United Airlines.

Of the largest U.S. airlines, Delta made the most sweeping changes to its policies in light of the pandemic. The airline blocked middle seats for nearly a year, implemented a rigorous cleaning practice dubbed CareStandard and even hired a chief health officer from the Mayo Clinic. In fact, Delta won TPG's Editors' Choice Award for a spotlight on safety last year.

Despite the rise in the delta variant, Delta (the airline) is hopeful that consistent masking and increasing vaccination rates should keep the boarding process running safely and smoothly.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023