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Delta testing a new metered boarding process in Atlanta

Feb. 21, 2020
3 min read
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Delta testing a new metered boarding process in Atlanta
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Delta Air Lines is testing a new boarding procedure with the aim of speeding up the process and reducing congestion at the gate.

On February 20, the carrier tested a new system that meters the number of people in each boarding group on two flights departing its Atlanta (ATL) base. A reader reported the test to TPG and Delta confirmed it. The goal is to even out the number of people boarding at any given time.

"We are testing a new boarding process on select flights designed to make the experience easier and decrease crowding at the gate," Delta spokeswoman Olivia Mayes told TPG. The Atlanta trials were "the first in a series of tests we’ll be running over the next few months and is based on customer feedback and focus group research.”

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Delta currently has at least seven boarding groups, depending on the type of aircraft:

  • Delta One, Premium Select or First Class
  • Delta Comfort+
  • Sky Priority
  • Main Cabin 1
  • Main Cabin 2
  • Main Cabin 3
  • Basic Economy

When a boarding group is called all at once, passengers tend to bunch up and slow down the process. The new test keeps those groupings but subdivides them for boarding by metering how many passengers head toward the plane at any one time. The goal is to have an equal number trying to board at any given time.

Several TPG readers mentioned the boarding group experiment in the TPG Lounge, suggesting that Delta might be splitting the boarding into as many as 30+ separate groups. Elite frequent fliers still board in Main Cabin 1 or 2 and do not appear impacted, according to one reader.

Airlines are constantly looking for more efficient ways to get people onto planes. A quicker boarding process means less ground time and more time that an aircraft is in the air -- where it can earn revenue. A 2008 report from Boeing found that in the course of 2,000 trips, a saving of 10 minutes off the time it takes to turn a plane around could mean more than 300 extra hours available for revenue flights.

Related: Math proves boarding planes is actually really efficient

Delta is far from making a decision on whether to implement the new metered approach to boarding. The process will be tested on more flights departing from Atlanta, as well as from other airports, in the coming weeks after which customer feedback will be solicited and analyzed. Only at that point will the airline determine if the process does or does not work, or needs adjustment, before it decides whether or not to roll it out broadly.

Featured image by Delta's branded boarding stanchions at LaGuarding Airport (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

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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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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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  • 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.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases