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Families flying coach won't get preferred United boarding

May 24, 2012|By Catharine M. Hamm | Los Angeles Times Travel editor
  • United Airlines will no longer give families preferred boarding unless they are sitting in first or business class.
United Airlines will no longer give families preferred boarding unless… (Richard Derk / Los Angeles…)

As travelers gear up for Memorial Day, families flying coach on United Airlines who don't have "elite" flier status may need to pack an extra dose of patience. United has dropped the “families can board first” do-si-do from its boarding process.

"We figured it would be better to simplify that process and reduce the number of boarding groups," United spokesman Charles Hobart told CNN. If you and your family are flying first- or business-class, you can board early.

United isn’t the only airline that doesn’t give families priority. Southwest lets families board between seating for its “A" and "B" groups (unless the family’s already in A group). Some people pay extra to get into the A group because Southwest doesn’t assign seats, which are on a first-come, first-served basis.

United’s dropping of the “families first” idea may be an effort to assuage the anger among its frequent fliers, some of whom saw some perks disappear since its merger with Continental

“Why would you…make the people who pay for first class wait?” George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, asked.  The early boarding for those customers may be “a concession to smooth things over to show they [United] are not tone deaf to their best customers.”

Hobica noted parents who are traveling with kids might benefit by not getting on first because it reduces the time trapped inside the aircraft.

Parents, what do you say?

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