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United Airlines changing how passengers board planes

United Airlines

Get ready to be introduced to WILMA, or United Airlines’ new acronym that illustrates how passengers will be boarding.

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Starting on Oct. 26, the airline will have passengers with window seats on the plane first, followed by middle seats with aisle seats filled last. Families, however, will still be able to board together, The New York Times reported.

WILMA — United’s name for the process — stands for window, middle, aisle.

The change only applies to people seated in economy, not those with first- or business-class tickets. Also, people with with disabilities, unaccompanied minors, active-duty military and families with children 2 years old and younger can still preboard.

The company will assign one of seven boarding groups: preboarding; first-class; business-class; window, exit row and nonrevenue passengers; middle; aisle; and finally, those without a boarding group or basic economy seats, The Washington Post reported.

Currently, there are up to five boarding groups.

This isn’t the first time WILMA has been used. The company tried it in 2017 at five airports and as expected, it did cut down on boarding times.

United estimated that it will cut about two minutes from each flight, the Times reported.

Other airlines have been adjusting their boarding systems.

Southwest has cut the number of EarlyBird spots that can be purchased, the Post reported. It still has open seating where anyone can sit wherever they want, Condé Nast Traveler reported.

JetBlue used to board back-to-front to keep people from standing in the aisles, and while it went away, it did return for a time during the COVID-19 pandemic, Traveler said.

But most airlines load front to back, row by row with priority seating a benefit for buying more expensive tickets.

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