Alaska Airlines is trying to clear up some confusion. Starting July 18, the airline will “simplify its boarding process” by switching from numbers to letters.
Previously, Alaska would pre-board (military, families with young children, those who need extra time), then move onto first class, frequent fliers and premium boarding. General boarding made up the last two groups, starting with those seated behind the emergency exit rows.
The new boarding is not all that different. But there’s a new system. Passengers will be assigned to Group A, B, C or D and their assignment will be clearly displayed on their boarding pass.
Pre-boarding and first class passengers will board the aircraft before any of the lettered groups are called. Those in Group A will be Million Milers, Alaska Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold status elites. Group B boarding will be those in premium class or Alaska Mileage Plan MVPs. Group C will be the back half of the plane and Group D will be those in the front section of economy.
Previously, those in general boarding had to wait to hear which row numbers were being called. Now, they’ll be assigned a letter and a group, which the gate agent will call and the gateside monitors will display.
Alaska is hoping that the new system will eliminate the unorderly “shapeless blob that forms when people aren’t sure if it’s their time to board.” The new boarding call may help, but the “shapeless blob” is a problem gate agents across airlines have been trying to combat for years. And no matter the boarding process, its formation seems inevitable.