The boarding process on flights in the US can be a real pain, no doubt. While non-US airlines seem to be able to board A380s 30 minutes before departure with time to spare, some US airlines start boarding 737s 40 minutes before departure and still can’t seem to depart on-time.
There are a few factors contributing to this, though probably the primary one is that Americans have more hand luggage more than those in other countries, largely thanks to the checked bag fees and the lax enforcement when it comes to carry-on sizes.
We’ve seen airlines come up with concepts to speed up the boarding process, from encouraging passengers to gate check bags before boarding even starts, to allowing passengers without carry-ons to board early.
With that in mind, Delta is trialling a new concept to speed up boarding, whereby they’ll load your carry-on bag for you, And I just can’t wrap my head around it. Here’s part of the AP article (via USA Today), which even has some good quotes from Gary Leff:
Delta’s Early Valet service will offer to have airline employees take carry-on bags at the gate and put them in the bins above assigned seats. The airline wants to see if its own workers can load the bins faster than passengers.
The service began Monday on about two dozen flights, and that number is expected to rise steadily during June, Delta spokeswoman Morgan Durrant said.
Early Valet will be offered through August on some departures from Delta’s busiest airports — Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle.
It will be available only on flights that typically have a high number of vacationers. Presumably, business travelers know how to board a plane efficiently. Specially tagged bags will be stowed on the plane before boarding begins, Durrant said.
Delta tested the process last summer in Atlanta and Los Angeles and saw some reduction in boarding time, Durrant said.
Perhaps I just lack vision, but I can’t figure out how this would save any time:
- Can anyone take advantage of Delta’s Early Valet service? If so, that seems like it would take quite some time to execute.
- Doesn’t this disadvantage the travelers who don’t take advantage of the service, since they may have to gate check their bags in the end? In other words, if leisure travelers in the last groups all take advantage of this, those in lower number groups may end up having to gate check bags… which defeats the purpose of paying extra for early boarding.
- Yes, perhaps this reduces boarding time, but does it reduce the overall turnaround time of a flight?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind the concept in theory, and I’d even gladly let them load my carry-on for me. But I fail to see how Delta putting 150 bags into the overheads leaves us any better off than if individuals do… or how it saves them any money.
Does anyone see the merits of having your carry-on bags preloaded? What am I missing?