The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that American Airlines has changed its boarding process to seat coach passengers in the order they checked in.
Before May, the carrier previously boarded coach passengers starting from the back of the plane to the front.
American told the Times that the new “random” seating method saves time because it minimizes the gridlock when passengers to get to their seats in the same row at the same time. Scott Santoro, American’s director of airport consulting, said studies show that random seating saves 5% to 10% in boarding time.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants claim the change has led to “complete chaos” on American flights.
The APFA said on its website that requests to board early are on the rise as a result of the new boarding process. “More often than not the result is congested aisles, and flight attendants having to explain to the bewildered and already stressed passengers why there is complete chaos in the cabin,” the website said.
Airline boarding systems vary — from open seating (Southwest Airlines) to the “outside-in” method, where passengers with window seats board first (United Airlines).
Sandy Stelling, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of airport services, told the Times that its “data confirms that pure random boarding is faster.”
However, she said, “we determined the negative impact, measured by our customers — elite Mileage Plan members and non-elites alike — was not worth the small gain in time.”