American Airlines Now Allowing Travelers Without Carry-Ons To Board Earlier

Anyone who’s ever been part of that tense time during the boarding process knows how it goes: Everyone with roller bags eyes each other, trying to get a glimpse of their rivals’ boarding passes to see who’s going to board first, and thus, easily score overhead bin space. Meanwhile the duffel bag people are like, “No worries, I can smush.” But now, those traveling extra light will get boarding preference on American Airlines.

The airline announced yesterday that travelers with just a personal item that fits under the seat, meaning no rolling bags, will board before most other passengers. There are still rewards clubs members and others with special boarding preferences.

According to the Associated Press, American is crossing its collective fingers that this process will allow flights to take off sooner. In recent years flights have become more crowded as airlines cut back on the amount of flights and have charged to check bags. That means a free-for all, with everyone cramming their belongings into carry-ons.

The airline said it tested the new way of doing things earlier this year at seven airports and now it’s a go for all its flights. Those without baggage that needs to go in the overhead bins will board after Group 1 premium passengers, and before the rest of the bunch.

And if you decide you don’t mind checking a bag at the gate and would rather board first, you can check for free at the gate. That’s a savings of at least $25 that passengers otherwise would’ve had to pay to check luggage.

The idea here being that light travelers will get themselves situated much more quickly, instead of sighing and huffing behind the guy who can’t get his roller bag into the right spot. It should cut boarding time by about two minutes per flight, said the airline’s director of customer planning. He admits that “doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up throughout the day.”

Meanwhile, duffel bag people? You’re probably going to be fine, still. We know your soft bag can squish in anywhere, as long as those others keep from putting their dang coats in the overhead bin too early.

American will favor passengers without roller bags [American Airlines]