In an effort to speed up the boarding process and generate more income, American Airlines is testing a new boarding program. Under this program, passengers without carry-on luggage board after 1st class/business class and elite members. “Carry-on baggage” is luggage which would need to be stowed in overhead bins, not “personal items” like a handbag or laptop.
This procedure speeds up the boarding time which allows for faster turn-around time and less time at airport gates resulting in significant savings to the airlines. A 2008 Journal of Transport Management found that every minute saved from the boarding process resulted in a $30 profit for the airline – a rather substantial savings when multiplied across by all of the daily departures in an airline’s system. Plus the airline expects it will encourage more passengers to check more bags, which means more “checked baggage” fees for American.
But let’s also note that the root cause of delays related to carry-on bags is almost entirely due to the airline’s original decision to charge for checked baggage. So really this is just another way to gouge more money out of the traveling public. Maybe it is time for the federal government to reign in the out-of-control airlines extra fees and at least mandate that the first checked bag is free.
This new procedure is being tested in Austin, Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, and Washington-Dulles.