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Delta Experimenting With Pre-loading Carry-ons
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While many travelers know to only make their travel plans after a thorough review of cheap travel options such as cheap airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, discount travel deals, and cheap vacation packages, fliers frequently experience frustration when trying to find space for carry-ons when boarding a plane.
Airlines are continuing to look for ways to save time by speeding up the boarding process that historically has created delays even before a plane leaves the gate.
Delta is trying a new approach in an effort to help passengers onto planes more quickly. Delta is offering a complementary program being called “Early Valet” which will pre-load carry-on bags before customers enter planes. Agents are approaching customers seated in the gate area to see if they would like to participate.
Bags are specially tagged and then taken onto the plane prior to boarding and placed above a customer’s seat based on his or her seat assignment. The airline wants to see if its own workers can load the bins faster than passengers.
The program commenced on June 1st and is being offered on select departures at airports in Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York (JFY and LaGuardia), Salt Lake City, and Seattle. The tentative end date of this test is August 31st.
It will only be available on flights that usually have a high number of vacationers. The assumption is that business travelers already know how to board a plane efficiently.
This program was initially tested last summer at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and at the Los Angeles International Airport. Enough time savings in the boarding process were observed to warrant expanding this test.
Some experts question whether Delta’s carry-ons-first test will make a complex boarding process even more complex, especially for non-frequent fliers. Select passengers may be hesitant to hand over their carry-on luggage because it contains valuables which they may not want to leave unattended.
Given the fact that airlines are cramming more seats onto planes and charging for checked baggage has resulted in less room to accommodate everyone’s carry-ons, some people believe that Delta might be better off focusing its efforts instead on ensuring that passengers are not violating its carry-on restrictions.
Most airlines allow their first class and other elite passengers board first. There is no universal agreement on how to most efficiently fill a plane after this first step. Some airlines fill the rear rows first and then work toward the front. Others fill window seats and work toward the aisle. Still other airlines use a combination of the two.
Airlines have also tried other approaches such as letting passengers board early if they do not have aisle clogging carry-on bags.
Given that many flights are full, experienced fliers are often anxious knowing that boarding late means that there might not be any room left in overhead bins.
Slow boarding is a major concern of airlines since it creates delays which can result in missed connections, unhappy customers, and extra costs. Every extra minute a plane stands idle at a gate adds $30 in costs. An average of one in four US flights are at least 15 minutes late. Multiply this by thousands of flights each day, and the cost adds up quickly.
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