Southwest “Has a Very Dignified Boarding Process”

Before you jump all over me, the quote in the title of this post is not mine. It is SOBE ER DOC’s, and here is the quote in full:

As much as I hate to say it, WN has a very dignified boarding process. Assigning everyone a number and then having people line up by number creates a much simpler boarding process with no one rushing the gate.

What would prompt SOBE ER DOC to say such a thing, you might be asking yourself. Well, it was part of a larger discussion about a new boarding procedure Delta is experimenting with – and not everyone disagrees with SOBE ER DOC.

Indeed. How times have changed. Due to a decade or more of the legacy airlines racing each other to the bottom, WN, with its more orderly boarding, extra inch of seat pitch in Y, free bags, and more liberal ticket changes, is now one of the premium airlines for most coach pax. ~Stripe

Then again, debating which airline has the most dignified boarding process is like trying to decide if you would rather be mauled by a tiger or a grizzly bear.

So, what’s the experiment being conducted by Delta? Get this, they are trying out a really radical idea wherein … wait for it:

1 – DMs now board with first, and not with sky
2 – It seems people who gate checked their bag also got some kind of advantage when it came to boarding. ~gtm3

For those not familiar with Delta acronyms – DMs are Diamond Medallions – Delta’s highest elite level. You see, currently DMs have to board in the second group along with Platinum Medallions (PMs) and Gold Medallions (GMs) – after BusinessElite, First and Business-class flyers, but before…

Ah heck, probably easier just to copy/paste the boarding process from the Delta website:

Via our Delta Sky Priority lane, all passengers in BusinessElite®, First, or Business Class will be invited to preboard (Zone PREM). All Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion® members, SkyTeam ElitePlus customers, and Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum and Gold members are then invited to board (Zone SKY). Silver Medallion members, SkyTeam Elite, Alaska Airlines® MVP® Gold members and Virgin Australia Velocity Silver members customers can begin boarding after that using the Sky Priority™ boarding lane when traveling in Economy Class (Zone 1) .

Got all of that?

HDQDD thinks there is still room for complexity improvement:

I think DL should add at least three more boarding groups before Zone 1, just to make it more confusing.


Zone 0 (for Kettles)




Z 1-3.


Seriously though, DL should just use Zones 1-5 for everyone. Zone 1 is F class, Z2 is Sky, Z3 (old Z1), etc. Today’s system is so confusing when pax in Z1 see half of the plane get in line before them, they all start wrestling into line thinking they missed the Z1 call. Make it simple.

What do you think about Delta’s trial boarding process? Better or worse than the current process? Better or worse than other airlines?

And which airline would you nominate for the “Most Dignified Boarding Process” award?

Read the thread in its entirety: Delta is experimenting with new boarding processes (order of boarding))

Image: “Knitting at Midway Airport” by Ken Bosma. CC BY 2.0.

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