Friday, March 22, 2013

Video: Fliers Without Carry-Ons Getting Priority Boarding on American Airlines

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Passengers on board some American Airlines flights noticed something different recently: a new procedure that allows travelers without those bulky carry-ons to get priority boarding.

American officials said they were testing the new process that allows first class passengers and those who needed extra assistance to get on first, but then everyone else from economy class was divided between those without a big carry-on and those who were rolling around their luggage.

“We are continually looking at ways to provide customers with a better, more convenient travel experience that keeps them at ease throughout their journey with us,” American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely told NBC News. "It’s important to note this is a limited test. Should we decide to modify our regular boarding process, we will be informing our people and our customers first.”

The experiment has been taking place at airports in Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C.

U.S. airlines took in more than $2.6 billion in bag fees in the first three quarters of 2012, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

But at the same time, delays caused by passengers scrambling to find space for their carry-ons during the boarding process have been costly for carriers, said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.

“A plane sitting on the ground — not only is it not earning money but at some airports, airlines pay for gate time by the minute so the longer you’re on the ground, the more you actually pay to the airport,” said Hobica. “(Checked bag fees) may have had unintended consequences. ... This is perhaps why Southwest for all these years has given you two free checked bags.”

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