Friday, May 25, 2012

United Airlines Ends Pre-Boarding For Families

In what appears to be another blow to traveling families, United Airlines decided to end pre-boarding for families - even those with infants and toddlers.

The reasoning is, according to this CNN article, is that United wants to streamline the boarding process by reducing the number of boarding groups.

Bad move. Back in December 2010, my wife and I took our infant son to visit our family in Idaho. We were flying United. I asked the ticket agent at the gate if we'd have a chance to pre-board. She snapped at me to wait for my boarding group to be called.

So we waited. When we finally boarded, infant son in tow, we found our seats. Because we had a 4-month old with us. It took us a while to get settled. The line behind us backed up considerably. No one complained, as I'm sure they understood (at least, I hope they did). Maybe they were distracted by a cute baby.

The unintended consequence of United's decision to eliminate pre-boarding for families with small children will be longer wait times and "traffic" jams as passengers wait for these families to get settled. And if it's around the holidays, where a lot of families are traveling, it'll take forever to get the plane boarded.

I used to love to fly United. They were a good airline. Over the last decade or so they have gone downhill. They offer little legroom and employees aren't as friendly as they used to be.

Because I live in Chicago, there's no shortage of more family-friendly airlines to choose from. United will no longer be an option.


  1. We recently traveled on United Airlines and they expected my three-year old son to sit alone. We booked the flight 8 months ahead and paid extra to upgrade and secure seats together, but at the last minute they cancelled our flight and booked us on an overbooked flight. While you might think people will willing switch seats, that's not always the case. We had to beg people to switch so my three-year old wouldn't be forced to sit alone, get scared and cry so hard he would throw up on people... NOT so family friendly. The ticket agent just kept saying, "sorry, there is nothing we can do".

  2. Hi Emily! Thank you for your comment.

    What a horrible experience. United is probably the least family friendly airline in the US. It should be noted that by not reserving 2 seats together for you and your son, they are violating their own policy. Their website states that children under the age of 5 must be accompanied by an adult.

    During the holidays 2010 we flew United with my 4-month son. The gate agent decided to skip pre-boarding for people with small children, so we had to wait for general boarding. Long story short, we held up the line because it took us a while to get seated.

    I will never fly United again.