United Ends Preboarding Policy For Families With Small Kids

While airlines love to put out press releases for even the smallest improvements in service, they tend to be pretty quiet when they do something that might tick off customers. Thus, many people are just learning now that back in April, United Airlines ended its policy of allowing families with small children to board flights early.

“We figured it would be better to simplify that process and reduce the number of boarding groups,” a United rep tells CNN.

But Kate Hanni of flyersrights.org says United’s policy change is a bit of a slap in the face to families.

“There are very few things a parent can count on when it comes to air travel these days, but one of those things was always the ability to board first to get your children settled in and all of their needs met before the throngs of people board the plane,” she tells CNN. “I hope United changes their mind.”

While most major carriers have some policy that allows for parents with young kids to board before the majority of other passengers, some, like American Airlines, make announcements at the gate asking for any travelers who will need assistance or extra time when boarding to talk to the gate crew.

United Airlines ends coach preboarding for children [CNN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blueskylaw says:

    “United Ends Preboarding Policy For Families With Small Kids”

    United comes up with a new “fair” policy of allowing those that pay extra fees to board first, tries to spin this new policy in a positive light.

    • jimbo831 says:

      They should do the opposite: make parents with kids bored last. That way everyone else can get settled in and relaxed before their kids get on the plane and start causing problems. I want to deal with those kids for as short a time as possible.

      • Darsynia says:

        Let’s see you still say that as you have to get up and wait in the aisle as the parent and their toddler install the carseat, which must be on the window…

        Seriously though, the preboarding thing for small kids to me always had more to do with not wanting to bonk people in the head with the carseat and such, and being able to install it without displacing others and making them grouchy before the rest of the passengers board. It’s not at all about a privilege and all about trying to inconvenience the fewest people that I can.

    • Geekybiker says:

      They already have this. Its called priority boarding. And yes, parents can pay like everyone else if they want to be the first ones onto the plane.

      • Kate says:

        You really want to stand behind squirming bored children ready to climb the seats and having to be constantly yelled at for 20 minutes?

        • Geekybiker says:

          Nope. I’d rather they not fly. Failing that I don’t think they should get something for free that everyone else must pay to get.

          • human_shield says:

            I’d rather you not fly, but we have that pesky freedom thing.

          • human_shield says:

            I’d rather you not fly, but we have that pesky freedom thing.

          • Leksi Wit says:

            I’m not a big fan of kids myself, but this isn’t about “getting something for free.” Allowing people with small kids to board first is good for everyone as they do require more time to get settled. If they can’t get settled in time, that can and will delay the flight, or like someone else pointed out, you get extra-annoying kids who are agitated when they finally make it to their seats. Little people tend to be little monsters in our society, with bad parenting to blame, but they are still people with special needs (until they get old enough to just be people).

  2. FatLynn says:

    I noticed this when I flew United last week. As long as overhead bin space is at a premium (and it will be, as long as checked bags cost so much), it is not fair to give people an earlier opportunity to board just because some of the people in their group are children.

    • Geekybiker says:

      Yup. My last flight they got to my boarding group and forced everyone to check their roll aboard. Not gate check, but under the plane and wait an extra 45 minutes to get it back at the destination check. To top it off, there were like 3 completely empty bins when I got on. Upside is maybe there will be less children on united flights?

      • FatLynn says:

        It was free, though, right?

        • Geekybiker says:

          Just because it doesn’t cost money, doesn’t mean its free. My biggest concern is that I normally pack my roll aboard with things I don’t want the baggage handlers stealing. That is a huge huge huge security issue. Also waiting sucks.

    • mikesanerd says:

      What really needs to happen immediately is to give each passenger his/her own personal space in the overhead bin which is assigned to them. This way each person will get one space, and if someone is in your space, you can kick them out. I was on a flight last week where a guy put a huge (but thin) suitcase AND his “personal item” in the overhead bin. He took up a whole overhead bin meant for 3+ people by himself…wtf?

      • FatLynn says:

        There is not enough overhead space for everyone to bring a rolling carry-on, period. People shouldn’t be jerks about it, but the bottom line is that airlines have created too much demand for storage space.

    • bluline says:

      You want to get on first because you have a litter of kids? Fine. But you have to sit in the very back of the plane where you won’t block the rest of us getting on or off. Deal?

      • MMD says:

        You realize that your plan means you’re going to get smacked in the head by diaper bags, stray kid limbs and dropped toys as the families go to the back of the plane, don’t you?

    • TheWillow says:

      I think they should have priority boarding and priority de-boarding for people who don’t use the overhead bins at all.

  3. dolemite says:

    “and all of their needs met before the throngs of people board the plane” somehow, this comes across as “entitled” to me. “Throngs of people”. It’s as if she’s saying “my family and I come first, because we are special, then the rest of you mindless idiots can board, causing us to be inconvenienced….why o why can’t I just be in my 3 ton SUV with my 4 spawn screaming in the back while I talk to my girlfriends on the cell phone instead of flying?”

    • nbs2 says:

      It isn’t that the family is special, it’s more to so with trying to maintain the level of convenience and respect that people want out of parents when at other public outings.

      If I’m gate checking stuff, it’s going to take a minute to get it all set aside. The kids will walk slower than adults and are not as skilled at identifying seats as functional adults. If the car seat is being flown with, that means that you are dragging a giant plastic club down the aisle with you. And since car seats are supposed to be in the window seat, that means that you in the aisle will have to get up while I get the car seat installed. Of course, that means my kid is moderately unsupervised. Which means more fun for you.

      So, remember this – the priority boarding for parents is nice for them, but a boon for others.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        The kids will walk slower than adults and are not as skilled at identifying seats as functional adults.

        No one walks full speed boarding a plane, so walking speed is irrelevant. Even if you’re slow going down the jetway, you just come to a line that you have to wait in anyway. Also identifying seats is irrelevant. The child should do what you tell them. You point and say “sit your butt in that seat and keep quiet”. No skill needed other than listening.

        • TacoDave says:

          Not a parent, I see…

          • castlecraver says:

            You know, I’m hardly a fan of MansfieldMauler’s comments either, but can we just stop the “you must not be a parent” retort when someone here criticizes another’s parenting style? It’s not insightful on your part, rather, just sounds like someone trying to find an excuse for admitting defeat to their own child(ren). Plenty of people manage to get their kids to behave on planes.

            • bassbeast says:

              And you know what? You were probably a toffee-nosed little snot as a child, just like every kid you complain about. Every single person, aside from Benjamin Button was a child first before they knew “better.” Back off, grow up, and recognize life for what it is.

              • castlecraver says:

                Ad hominem, a straw man, trite literary references, AND hackneyed platitudes? A winner is you.

                • bassbeast says:

                  And a smarmy student with loads of debt who enjoys polysyllabism is you. (At least, that would explain your need to show off your Philosophy 101 terms.)

                  You criticized other people’s’ ability to parent. No child is a perfect child, and as everyone WAS a child at some point – and I’m certain you had your share of meltdowns in your time, as did we all. And conveniently, that’s the point you ignored. It’s not about attacking you per se – though your need to prove your superiority does make it a bit more viable – but rather the concept that all parents should be perfect at all times, and always on top of their kids. If everyone who complains about kids in various situations and ignores the fact that they were kids at some point and showed a modicum of understanding, the world would quantifiably be a better place.

                  And knock off the superiority thing. It isn’t impressive.

        • mearow says:

          How does the kid “sit in the seat” until you get the carseat installed? If everyone is coming on board and sitting in their seats, there is no where for the kid to stand or sit out of the way of everyone else. What does the airline expect the parent to do?

        • sixsevenco says:

          LOL! Errrr… Let me guess. You don’t have kids do you?

          • Doubting thomas says:

            I do, and that is exactly how we handle flights.

            I also agree that parents with small children should board last as long as bin space is reserved for them. I would much rather wait in the roomier airport where he can work off some energy before the flight then go straight to my seat as close to take off as possible

      • DoubleShortMILF says:

        Thank you. I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s tough to get a kid on board a plane even under ideal circumstances – but when you have to balance the car seat, get the kid settled (and calm, because the slightest peep means that someone will complain), and get yourself settled, and you’re stuck in one of the last groups to board, it’s going to be inconvenient to everyone around the kid.

        • dwtomek says:

          You’re absolutely correct. As a human being who loves kids and would like to have his own someday, I should be inconvenienced by people who have been successful in such endeavors at every possible opportunity. I mean, I just don’t get it right? Even though I am constantly confused for my sister’s spouse because I act as an interim father in the actual father’s absence. I just don’t get it right? It’s just impossible for a family to keep kind company, right? Oh wait, a stern and objective voice of reason is enough to get a discombobulated family back in order? Well if I actually take an active role in my children’s upbringing then I am the bad guy! Fuck off with this “you don’t get it mentality.” I do fucking get it, and my objective opinion is that if you assert a bit of punishment and explanation, you can get your hellspawn back in order. Stop making your lack of spine a problem for the rest of the world.

          As a side, I was officially a manny for a barely there couple for 3 years. Children react to mutual respect far more than one might think. Although I suppose I will be called an idiot as they weren’t technically my children. To that idea I preemptively note that, if they are your children, they should have more respect for you than the manny.

      • JJFIII says:

        BULLSHIT. If children and old people move slower wouldnt logic dictate board them last. Thos eof us who can get to our seats and not cause disrutptions can get in, and wait on those that need extra help.
        The two things that piss me off about flyers is the person who is 60 and needs extra help to get ON the plane (board first) and the family who needs that extra time to get on as well, BUT they certainly are not waiting to get OFF the plane last.
        That should be the rule for children , if you want on first, you MUST sit in the very last rows of the plane so you do not block the rest of us from boarding. YOU made the decision to have children, I choose not to, and do nt find your brats cute or adorable.

        • sixsevenco says:
        • sixsevenco says:

          You need to get over yourself. There are plenty of “grown-up” that are louder and more obnoxious than children. Take Texans for example.

          Heck, on my last flight some idiot threw a fit because the attendant told him to turn off his ipad at takeoff. Regardless of how you feel about this rule, it’s still the rule. Follow it! He delayed the entire plane because he was a self-absorbed jerk.

          And FU for telling me where I need to sit with my family. I paid full price for my family’s tickets. My family will be seated fairly, along with all of the other passengers.

          • bluline says:

            If you paid full fare like everyone else, the fair thing to do is not give you special boarding because you are dragging your kids along. Deal with it.

            • sixsevenco says:

              JJFill said kids should be seated in the last rows of the plane. This is what set me off. To me, seat assignments are much more important than when boarding occurs. If I am paying full price for my two year old’s ticket, he will be treated fairly along with the other ‘grown-ups’.

              To your point… If the airline’s policy/procedure, allows preboarding for families with small kids, I will take advantage of it, because it is easier for me, and better for OTHER PASSENGERS too. If the airline doesn’t offer preboarding, I’m fine with that too.

          • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

            You were doing okay until you made the childish comment about Texans. At that point you lost all credibility and became a preachy douche bag.

        • Mamudoon says:

          JJFIII, as a disabled person who sometimes needs a cane to walk, it makes sense that people with assistive devices board first (and get off last if we can help it) so that we don’t have to weave through throngs of other passengers. It’s hard enough for us to move around, let alone get our canes/wheelchairs/walkers/what have you around others. It’s annoying (and possibly dangerous) for everyone involved. It’s not a matter of entitlement.

        • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

          Fuck you. Nobody likes you. I hope you have to sit next to a screaming baby on every flight ever for the rest of your life. Also, if there is a hell, I hope that’s what it is for you. An eternal flight next to a screaming baby.

          Because you are an asshole.

        • Tyanna says:

          I hope that when you do decide to have children and need to fly with them that you will be seated next to someone with the same attitude you currently have.

          Most parents put a lot of planning and care to make traveling with their children as stress free as possible. This includes making sure their needs are met so that they don’t cause disruptions during the flight. Just because a few bad customers don’t do this doesn’t mean we should condemn the whole group.

          • Krystal says:


            I’m sorry, but on the last flight I was on, I had the great misfortune of being seated next to a sick 1.5 year old. She cried the entire time, which wasn’t HER fault … but her mother kept taking things away from her (“LEAVE MY WALLET ALONE!”), which worked her up more.

            Oh, and the freaking asshole of a mother changed the baby’s diaper on the plane seat twice, and then refused to change her after that when she shit her pants, stinking up the whole flight.

            This, BTW, was a pleasure flight back from Punta Cana. It certainly wasn’t necessary.

        • TacoChuck says:

          A lot of times the older folks do wait until the plane empties before they de-plane. This is almost required if they also need a wheelchair to leave the plane.

    • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

      Someone has to be first and someone has to be last.

  4. BennieHannah says:

    I thought the reason for the policy was a practical one — families, especially those with small children, tend to board with a car seat or a stroller and a diaper bag, etc. All that necessary baggage causes a bottleneck in the aisle. Same thing for those in a wheelchair and walkers.

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’m with United on this one.

  6. Blackadar says:

    That’s ok. I’ll just bottleneck the entire boarding process when I get on with my 2 year old. If you don’t like it, complain to United.

    • FatLynn says:

      Well, I won’t care, because I will already be seated.

    • Portlandia says:

      Right, because stepping out of the isle while you buckle in your child would be too fucking much to ask. Just because you managed to breed, the world owes you special parking spots and early boarding.

      • Blackadar says:

        Don’t like it…complain to United. Meanwhile, wait and fume. :D

        • Portlandia says:

          No, you see, I’m an elite member and i’ll be seated long before you and your offspring even reach the jetway.

          Also, the only thing being a dick and clogging the line does, is make you a bigger dick. Great example you set for your child.

          • GrimJack says:

            Talk about an entitled dickhead! Oh, I’m an elite member so you and all rest of the friggin peons get the hell out of my way. It tough being an elite flyer these days – all the perks have faded away and you’re basically just left with a false sense of smugness that you are somehow superior to the rest of the masses wedged into coach… If little things like families boarding early tick you off that bad, I can imagine how you must react to real problems..

            Please do us all a favor and don’t have kids (although based on your sparkling personality, that shouldn’t be an issue)…

            • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

              Totally agreed, Grim. I hope all these people who hate children never breed any of their own. Stop the problem at the source and it keeps the gene pool from getting any worse.

            • Portlandia says:

              Honestly, it wasn’t the families that ticked me off, It was the attitude of the original comment. He basically said, since I can’t board early anymore, when I do I’m going to make it as inconvenient for everyone behind me.

              There’s a difference between supposedly being ‘smug’ about having elite status on an airline which allows you (as others have pointed out) one of the few remaining perks of being a frequent flier vs being an INTENTIONAL dickhead and making people wait unnecessarily because you happen to have children.

              This wasn’t about being elitist it’s about not being a jerk about the boarding process. I get on the plane, I get out of the way of others and I’m conscious of those around me. I don’t go out of my way like Blackadar says he will and make other people’s day miserable.

              • Coffee says:

                Weird…I didn’t read into Blackadar’s comment that way at all. From where I’m standing, he’s just making the point that if you’re going to require everyone with small children to board with the general passengers, you’re going to create bottleneck situations because parents have to manage more items, get the child seated and buckled up, luggage stowed, etc., all of which takes longer than it would with a normal person. I don’t believe that there was any malicious implication (e.g. I will bottleneck the aisle on purpose), only an air of inevitability.

                • Portlandia says:

                  I absolutely took it as intentional, which is what spawned my comment. Particularly when he threw in the I can stand behind and “fume” comment which he/she seemed to take amusement from.

                  Listen, “elite’ status is what United calls their frequent fliers they get early boarding, an extra or free piece of checked luggage and the occasional upgrade are basically the only benefits we get anymore. When you travel a fair amount for business and pleasure these things make up for the otherwise demeaning situation that commercial flying has become.

          • sixsevenco says:

            And there it is… You think you’re elite.

          • Coffee says:

            Wow…sometimes a frequent commenter makes a post that really changes your opinion of them. This is one of those comments. I know you probably don’t care because I board the plane along with all the other prols, but there it is.

            • Portlandia says:

              Right, so you’re perfectly okay with someone who will intentionally cause a bottleneck (and make no mistake about it, Blackadar says they will do so at least twice) in the boarding process causing delays and frustration for other passengers because they’re bitter they no longer have a special privilege but you’re angry that someone who travels frequently and is allowed to board early?

              As you can see in his reply to me he was amused with the idea that I might have to stand behind him and “fume”. If this is what you think is a good quality in people, please have whatever opinion of me you like.

              • Coffee says:

                While you were typing your response, I was responding to your comment below…tl;dr – I don’t think the original comment had anything to do with purposeful bottlenecking, but rather referred to what will happen if parents are not allowed to pre-board with small children.

                As for his response to you in which he refers to you fuming, looking at your comment – to which he was responding – you swore at him and then condescended to him…I’m not sure how you were expecting him to respond to that. His flippant rejoinder seems playful in comparison to the language that preceded it.

                • Portlandia says:

                  Yep, I absolutely swore at him, because I took his comment as snide and the bottleneck intentional.

                  As I said in my response to you below, this all stems from the demeaning experience that commercial air flight has become. Standing behind people who are oblivious to everyone around them is less than an enjoyable experience at times. The thought of someone intentionally creating problems for other passengers because they’re unhappy with united is angering.

          • longfeltwant says:

            Oh, very good then. It’s not that you think people shouldn’t be allowed to board early, it’s just that you think people should only be allowed to board early if they have no reason (“elite”) instead of a perfectly good reason (“children”). Got it.

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      Why would you purposely hold up the line??
      A 2 year old getting on the plan does not take any longer than anyone else.

      People who have kids that are not as controllable or have a bunch of crap should board last so everyone else can sit down while they are waiting for the slow people.

      • MrsMLS says:

        You obviously don’t have a 2 yo. I do. It takes longer to do EVERYTHING with a tot. Plus, if the kid needs to be strapped into a car seat on the plane, you have to stop and do that, plus keep the kid from freaking out (and no, you can’t just tell the kid to calm down. Toddlers are not reasonable people).

        But heck, kids and babies should be banned from every flight EVER, right? Because dealing with the human race for a few hours is HORRIBLE.

        • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

          No, but if you take longer you should board last.

          • TacoDave says:

            Your name is CommonSense yet you make no sense.

            You really want the person who has to install a car seat in the window seat to board last? You want them taking that car seat down the aisle that is already full, trying to not to bump into everyone seated? You want everyone else to be comfortable and ready to go while the kid throws a loud fit because the situation is new to them?

            Weird logic. No Sense.

            • sixsevenco says:

              Seriously. I once accidentially hit a seated person with my carseat as I am bringing it on. It weighs 18 lbs.

            • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

              Yes I want them to board last.
              Everyone else who is quicker can be seated so they can get comfortable. They can read, uses laptops, start a movie while this person goes slow.

              BTW. I have seen people board with children go fast as they were prepared, packed properly, but I have seen most go slow as they decided to organize their carry ons while trying to put their kid into a seat. Either way, those that know they will go slower should board last.
              Those that know they will be quick as they are organized and have control of their kid can board with everyone else.

        • JJFIII says:

          And why is YOUR problem controlling your two year old MY problem? If you can not control them, I do not need to board AFTER you. You are probably the same person who expect sot get off the plane first as well, or hold your little brat in your lap for free
          The argument that “you don’t have a 2 year old” does not hold any water. Guess what, you do not have a penis, so you have no idea how much extra work it is for me to board a plane. If you can not manage your child, you should not be flying anyway. By thee way, my nieces have flown with me beginning at the age of 1 and 3. Never once did I ask for special treatment. I guess if you teach them right, and raise them instead of expecting the rest of the world to make way for you, you would become a better parent.

          • Raanne says:

            LOL. I think the question is why is YOUR problem dealing with the fact people come in different ages MY problem.

            You must be a tiny person to think that sitting in a coach airline seat is more comfortable than sitting in the lobby.

          • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

            Oh, you have nieces?

            Please, enlighten us with your child rearing wisdom, since you are clearly the first person in the history of ever to have interacted with small children.

      • Portlandia says:

        Thank you, I’m glad I wasn’t the only person to take his response as holding up the line as intentional.

      • NumberSix says:

        LOL WUT?? Try it some time.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      I don’t understand what you’re actually doing that takes longer. You have more stuff, but obviously not more than you can handle, or else you wouldn’t be handling it.

      • Blackadar says:

        If you don’t understand, you don’t have kids. I have the stuff of two people, not to mention having to get a squirmy (tired, cranky, hungry, bored, etc.) individual settled before I can get settled.

        • crispyduck13 says:

          I don’t have kids but even I figured it takes twice as long to do everything. I thought you were being honest about what will happen, not sure what’s up with all the haterade.

        • TasteyCat says:

          I imagine sitting in front of you is a joyous experience with the lack of sitting still and yelling from being tired, hungry, bored, tired, and etc.

    • Coffee says:

      I don’t have kids, and I’m definitely on your side here. Allowing people with children, or those helping elderly passengers in wheelchairs, to board early and get seated really expedites the entire process. We do not need an unholy clusterfuck of confusion created just because people – who happen to have a slavishly myopic focus on the need for unequivocal equality – cannot understand that we’re not allowing you to board for your convenience; we’re doing it for ours.

      • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

        Those that are slower should board last.
        That everyone else can be seated and relax why they go slow.

        • MMD says:

          Bullshit. You would be seething with rage if you had to sit through the individual seating of disabled elderly people and overtired children.

        • BarbiCat says:

          I’m a 29 year old able-bodied woman. I can fucking stand for five minutes and not have a shit sit because “waaah waaah a disabled person has to go BEFFOOREEE me!”. But apparently I’m one of the few people in the world that CAN do that…

          My grandmother has limited mobility and walks slowly. I don’t get upset when someone with a mobility impairment or disability needs help or “slows down” a process I might be a part of, because I’d sure as hell lose it if someone did that to my grandmother. But it seems like most people who hate pre-boarding policies are able-bodied young people, and I guess their grandparents are all in the best of health and off somewhere waterskiing and wake boarding it up in their twilight years with nary a limp in sight.

    • matlock expressway says:

      “That’s ok. I’ll just bottleneck the entire boarding process when I get on with my 2 year old. If you don’t like it, complain to United.”

      I’m willing to put up with this. You’re no more of an inconvenience when you board during regular boarding than when you pre-board. The fewer people pre-boarding, the faster regular boarding will go.

      It’s a zero-sum game. But if you don’t get to pre-board, I might get to board before you. I can only win, here.

      The only rebuttal I can see to this is that you are somehow magically more efficient when pre-boarding. I suspect that you are not.

      (In addition, since gate attendants are mentally incapable of explaining to idiots with fully-functioning teenagers that their brats do not count as “small children”, a blanket ban works out quite well on average.)

  7. dush says:

    So now we’re all United in one mass boarding group.
    Except for the privileged first class people.

  8. Portlandia says:

    Uh, Southwest has done this a LONG time ago. Families now board between the A and B Group. I didn’t hear people complaining about them. I personally loved this, especially when I’ve paid extra (when I wasn’t able to check-in early) for low boarding number and then they would let all these breeders on first.

  9. ianmac47 says:

    This does sound like a policy improvement. Next step is baby free flights. Now that would be an amenity worth paying extra for.

    • ole1845 says:

      Spare me. How about a no fat people flight? I’d rather sit next to a small child than a oversized person spilling over into my space any day.

      • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

        Fat people who cant fit into the seat need to buy two seats.

      • Kaniac says:

        Yeah, I’d take a cute little kid (even if somewhat annoying) over an obese and/or large and/or smelly person any day.

        Recently, was sitting a row in front of sandal-wearing dudes with the most rank foot odor I’ve ever smelled. My one first class flight, completely ruined by smelly feet. Would have traded for a seat in coach next to a toddler in a heartbeat. Hope that dude got himself to a podiatrist, yikes.

    • joako says:

      It would be genius if they took the upper level of a 747 and made it into a children day-care center.

  10. crispyduck13 says:

    I don’t like small kids on a plane as much as the next person, but this policy helps absolutely no one. You know what’s great about having small kids board first?

    1. If it’s a pick-you-seat flight you’ll know where they all are, then you can position yourself accordingly.
    2. Since they already have all their crap stowed and the munchkins buckled up there’s less chance of a major bottleneck to board because it takes longer to do those things with kids.

    “We figured it would be better to simplify that process and reduce the number of boarding groups…”

    How does that figure exactly? How is that actually better? Who is that helping?

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      I agree with you. They are making boarding more complicated to simplify a boarding process that wasn’t confusing? Mmmmmkay.

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      Pick your seat cattle call flights are only on one airline which is not united.

      It is best if those with kids and those that need more time board last.
      So everyone else can sit and relax while those slow people take their time.

      • MMD says:

        Repeating this claim doesn’t make it true. It only reinforces how self-serving the comment is.

        I look forward to the day that you get bonked in the head by a parent trying to schlep a carseat onto the plane after you’ve been seated first.

  11. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    Attention passengers: We do ask that you do stow any children you may have brought on board in the overhead bins, as we do have a limited number of seating experiences available on this aircraft at this point in time. Also, please check your immediate seating area carefully as we do ask that these areas do be kept free of children and other small belongings. We appreciate your cooperation and thank you for flying United, America’s number one airline. To make a donation to UNICEF, please place any spare change in the clear bags in your seat pocket. Again, thank you for flying United. The captain does thank you for observing the rules that we do have on this aircraft. Thank you for flying with United Airlines.

    • Invader Zim says:

      You forgot the special seating just under the plane.

    • joako says:

      You are at the back of the line:

      I’m sorry sir, you’ll need to check that child, Just show this slip at the gate and they will have her waiting.

  12. KyBash says:

    I always thought that policy was backwards. To my way of thinking, little kids should board last and be shoved off . . . I mean: “allowed to deplane” . . . first.

    Letting them on first gives them the impression that the area is all theirs, and the people who come later are invading their space. It’s much better to instill in them from the very first moment that they have to share with everyone else. Most are still likely to want to explore, but they’ll do it with a slightly different attitude.

    It’s also safer if everyone is seated before they’re allowed on because they won’t be underfoot during a hectic time.

  13. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Jesus Christ. What a bunch of whiners. Stop calling people with kids “breeders.” You sound like elitist assholes when you do that.

    I don’t give one flying fuck when I get on the plane, just as long as I get on it. Unless I win the lottery, I’m going to be crammed into a shitty coach seat no matter what. If they’re boarding and I have a ticket, I’m flying. There were ten thousand kids on my second leg last night and they cried and I could barely even hear them once the plane got in the air over the damn engine. So no worries.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:


    • Coffee says:


    • Spooka says:


      Air travel is hell, and this is absolute. This decision with boarding is not going to make a miserable thing any more miserable because I think it may be as miserable as it can get.

    • FatLynn says:

      The real problem is the checked baggage fees and the airlines allowing more carry-on luggage than actually fits on the plane. They have created a big advantage to boarding first.

  14. nopirates says:

    many airlines have already done this

  15. bben says:

    As a frequent flyer, I would prefer to have the people with small children board first. Traveling with children is a hassle and they deserve all the help the airline and other passengers can give them. Having loose toddlers running up and down the aisles. And if parents are burdened with all the junk they need when traveling with kids, the toddlers will take advantage and run amok.

    Allowing them to board before anyone else is not a delay for anyone else. as normal boarding has not started yet. For those who think people with kids should board last – where will they put the diaper bag, bag with kids toys, bag with baby’s bottles, bag with mothers stuff, bag with spare clothes (absolutely needed) after all of the hogs who insist on bringing on the absolute maximum size and number of carry on objects have jam packed the overhead bins – They cannot gate check the diaper bag, bag with baby’s bottles or some of the other stuff that they really do need during the flight. This stuff NEEDS to go on the flight with them and there is limited space under the seats.

    That said, the people with kids should also be told to wait till last to get off for the same reasons – if they try to disembark with the rest of the herd they WILL cause a massive bottleneck.

    • JJFIII says:

      Oh, so parents get to pay the same as everybody else, but get access to the overhead bins and benefits of being first class. There IS a way to get boarded on a plane first. As a “frequent flyer” I am sure you know what that is. It is called PAYING for it. If I want a special seat, I pay the extra it takes to get that right. Just because they CHOOSE to fly with their kids, does not mean they should get preferential treatment. If they are boarding first, and need all this, why dont the airline put them on the BACK of the plane, where they will not disrupt other people boarding and then they get off the plane last. I see every mother racing to carry her 12 bags of shit with her brood of children and race to get off the plane before anybody else, yet she needs extra time to board BULLSHIT

    • Doubting thomas says:

      As a parent I am calling BS on this one. All that extraneous crap can be checked. When flying with my son I have never needed more than a school backpack to hold everything both he and I need on the flight. A couple of diapers, a handy pack of wet wipes, a few small toys and a single change of clothes. All of that together fits in the small front pocket, leaving the main compartment for me and still half empty.

      It shows some real blind hypocrisy to insist that a parent needs separate bags for diapers, toys, food etc but that others are hogs for packing what the airlines allow.

    • orion70 says:

      It’s good to know that childfree flight occupants are automatically baggage space hogs, but yet everything in a parent’s carry on is “needed”. You don’t know what is in other people’s bags that they “need”. Assumptions get you nowhere.

      • orion70 says:

        I’d also add that if there are “loose toddlers running up and down the aisle” during their boarding time, they also probably shouldn’t be boarding at the same time as people with mobility issues.

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      Um.. just so you know they can bring all the diapers and baby things they need for the one flight in a smaller bag like a backpack that easily fits under the seats.
      Smart organized parents do things like this and they are as quick as anyone else getting on flights.
      The large bag with all the crap for a week can be gate checked, which saves even more time for the rest of us instead of having some out of shape person trying to lift a 70 pound bag over their head.

      I travel a lot for work. I see a huge advantage for everyone if those that will board slow (like most with kids) should board last. This way flight attendends can focus on them.
      Also if there are problems everyone else can be seated and relaxed reading, using a laptop, using a cell, etc while they wait for the slow passengers to board last.
      Those parents that are organzied and know they can board quickly should just board in the normal line.

    • Mamudoon says:

      “For those who think people with kids should board last – where will they put the diaper bag, bag with kids toys, bag with baby’s bottles, bag with mothers stuff, bag with spare clothes (absolutely needed)…This stuff NEEDS to go on the flight with them and there is limited space under the seats.”

      Where the hell are you flying to, the freakin’ moon?

      • Darsynia says:

        LOL yeah, lets leave behind the un-needed stuff then!… hmm, gotta have the bottles (food), gotta have something to do (toys), I need my stuff, diapers are a must-have, and Uncle Ron fed Junior a half-pound of blueberries! Poop blowout! I bet you wish I’d brought the extra clothes now, huh.

  16. Coffee says:

    This all sounds well and good if you have no children, and I might have agreed with the policy at one time. That is, until I had to travel with my sister’s two stepchildren, who are very, very difficult, two weekends ago. Trust me – you don’t want kids like that around during general boarding: they’re a handful to corral, impatient, and difficult to manage. Boarding earlier made things much easier on everyone.

    • Kate says:

      It will change back and any haters who had to deal with a fussy kid directly in front or behind them is going to be screaming the loudest for it to go back the way it was.

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      Board last and it benefits everyone even more.

      • MMD says:

        [citation needed]

        You’re going to be the first one to bitch when an unruly kid being carried by their parent kicks you in the head as they’re trudging by.

  17. JJFIII says:

    If this cuts down on the number of children on United planes, I will be booking all future flights with them. Paarents, I am sure Southwest will love having you on their planes. BYE.

  18. dandadan says:

    Personally, I think travelling with small children should not be encouraged. I applaud this policy. Why should 150 people be inconvenienced because a few people are travelling with kids? You made the choice to travel with kids, you should be the one inconvenienced. I pray for the day when we will have the choice of not flying with kids. They should be behind standby passengers in line.

    Because people travel with kids who are too small to fly or too unruly to behave, everyone on the plane has to pay. This is BS. Pack them in the cargo area or give them sedatives,just keep the monsters off the plane. I’m sick of having to put up with misbehaving, noisy, screaming crotch-spawn on planes. It makes driving cross country seem more attractive than a plane!

    • lettucefactory says:

      Too bad it would take so long to disemvowel this.

      Please don’t let me be stuck on a plane thousands of feet in the air with someone so rage-prone.

      • eosphotog says:

        Seriously. Kids are giant amplifiers. They take whatever emotions are in the air and amplify it 10x. So if parents are frustrated, kids go nuts. If other people are tense, or angry, or generally pissy, they pick this up too. It doesn’t have to be verbal either, they will pick up body language, etc. If you have rage about kids, then don’t be surprised when kids throw this right back at you.

    • Raanne says:

      Personally? I’ve found that its much easier to just not allow people who complain about kids to fly. 99% of people are nice and accommodating, and live in a society where we help each other out, and recognize when people need help and freely give it.

      1% of people are “speshul snowflakes” who think the world revolves around them, and they should be allowed to pick and choose what people are “good enough” to interact with them.

      (Hint: the parents aren’t the ones in that second group, the complainers are)

  19. Nyxalinth says:

    I don’t have kids, so I have never seen how this is helpful to the families, other than it’s hard to dodge people putting their stuff up and getting into seats with kids in tow.

  20. godospoons says:

    Don’t bring the Tulip into this… these things are *all* Globe.

  21. orion70 says:

    The only issue I’ve ever seen with this special pre-boarding is the inconsistency in it’s application, i.e. they make the call and you’ll see people with much older children going for it, and not of the minimal numbers or appearance to suggest they have special pre-boarding needs. Only once during the pre-boarding announcement (not United) was it clarified to include only children under a certain age. Ten year olds don’t typically need the extra time.

    The other issue is lumping them in with “people who need extra assistance”, which are typically people with mobility issues. I think those people especially need the benefit of a clearer aisle and seat access.

  22. madrigal says:

    Delta does this in Orlando because most of the people there have gone to Disney World.

    Can I exit the plane first if I do not have kids? I flew over Thanksgiving and was stuck next to a man and his daughter. When the plane landed, he told her to stay put while he went towards the back of the plane to get their luggage. I had a tight connection, so I politely asked if I could scoot by the kid to get into the aisle. When the man can back, he yelled at me and said I was f’in rude for jumping over his child.

  23. celinesci says:

    I think planes should board people with children last. The kids get all squirmy and impatient, I think the less time they are on the plane, the less likely they’ll get fussy. I mean, you’re sitting on the plane for a bit before it leaves the gate anyway, that gives families plenty of time to get themselves situated.

    • eosphotog says:

      That’s what we do actually… one parent goes ahead and sets up (car seat, etc.). Then the other parent waits until the end and brings in the kid. Still need time to set up though, and the time was appreciated.

      Honestly though the highest level of anxiety we’ve ever had traveling was with Southwest and not knowing we’d be able to sit together. But it turns out the flight crew is pretty cool about helping and it wasn’t a big deal. We’d fly them again.

      • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

        Set up?
        You building a fort?

      • JonBoy470 says:

        Worried about sitting together on SWA? You’re doing it wrong… Check in online 24 hours ahead, and you’ll be in the A group. No worries…

    • Brave Little Toaster says:

      I think planes should board complaining adults last. The adults get all squirmy and impatient, I think the less time they are on the plane, the less likely they’ll get fussy. I mean, you’re sitting on the plane for a bit before it leaves the gate anyway, that gives the adults plenty of time to get themselves situated.

      It works both ways. I think the first time any complaining adult has to sit on a cramped plane while families board and get situated, they will complain to high heaven about being forced to wait.

    • who? says:

      If it weren’t for the overhead bin problem, I’d prefer to board last myself. Why sit on the plane any longer than necessary?

  24. eosphotog says:

    That’s fine. But when people get upset that they have to wait for me to manipulate a car seat into the plane, I don’t want to hear it. You can’t have it both ways – either give me a chance to get the seat installed before everyone rushes the plane or wait patiently while I work.

  25. tooluser says:

    Your kids. Your problem.

    • BarbiCat says:

      You may have heard of this new thing we have in society. It’s called “interacting with others”, and as a rule, it’s required of pretty much 100% of us. Those of us who aren’t total douchebags try and to afford other people common courtesy, even if their situations don’t exactly mirror our own. Sometimes this even means being *gasp* NICE to people we don’t really want to interact with in an effort to keep this whole charade we call “humanity” from degenerating in to a festering pile of dogsnot.

      On the other hand, keep living your life as a selfish, angry, bitter person who despises a good percentage of the population. I’m sure that’ll work out splendid for you.

  26. Peacock (Now In Extra Crispy) says:

    And if the policy hadn’t been so blatantly abused so often, maybe–just maybe–it still might be in place. I understand the need to get to your assigned seat early enough to buckle in a child safety seat, I do. But I’ve also seen so much outright abuse by not just parents of small children, but assorted hangers on to the point where it seemed like there were rows and rows of people attached to one small child.

    It ain’t right, it just ain’t.

  27. jelloisyummy says:

    I fly frequently with my two children. I am happy to board when our group or row is called if the line to get on wasn’t bordering on twenty, sometimes thirty minutes. First, there is the bottleneck right at the gate with people flowing into the one doorway. Then you stand on the jet way and slowly shuffle one person by one person. Finally, you get on the plane and do the same. If United streamlined it so we didn’t have to wait that long to get to the very back row (best place for kids is by the bathrooms) which I have a suspicion it takes just as long as it usually does, then I’d rather get on dead last.

  28. adamwade says:

    YAY!!!! Finally, some good airline news.

    Sorry folks, having kids doesn’t make you special.

  29. prosumer1 says:

    For once, I have to say, way to go, United. This is a great policy change. I hate families that lug a bunch of shit with them on their trip, taking up precious stowage space, all because they claim traveling with small children require you to bring half of your house with you. All the while they slow the boarding process down, which pisses me off when I have a tight connection. I have high status, and early boarding has always been a privilege reserved for loyal customers. You and your kids can wait.

    • Mamudoon says:

      I don’t understand people (parents and non-parents) who feel they need to lug a week’s worth of crap with them on the plane. I feel like the only person who just brings what they’re going to need for the duration of the flight. With the exception of my laptop, my carry-on stuff fits in my purse. Really, you’re not moving into the plane. You don’t need all that stuff.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        I lug all my crap on the plane as carry-ons because they want to charge me $25 for the privilege of rifling through then losing my bags. When they quit scamming passengers for carry-on fees then I’ll quit lugging all my luggage onto the plane.

        • prosumer1 says:

          Best of luck to you. Unless you have high status, you’ll still end up checking your carry-on in at the jetway.

  30. gman863 says:

    Wow. 130+ posts and nobody has caught on to the 800 pound elephant-in-the-room issue United is addressing.

    Kids (especially ones under 2 who fly on their parents’ lap) are not profitable.

    * The

    * Any kid who screams or acts up during a flight is like a turd in a punchbowl. Airlines want to focus on the higher-fare business traveler. If this means making flights more enjoyable by reducing the number of screaming babies on board, so be it.

    * One of the easiest ways to cut costs and increase customer satisfaction is reducing the “turnaround time” at the gate (letting people off and getting the new passengers on). Southwest built their business and high customer satisfaction level by cutting turnaround times by up to 50% less than what legacy carriers such as United and Delta spend at the gate. Boarding families with kids (with strollers, tons of carry-on crap and unruly kids) first slows the process by at least a few minutes. If other travelers have a tight connection, this few minutes could be the difference between making and missing their connecting flight. Once again, it’s more profitable to put business and full fare passengers ahead of super saver cheapskates.

    If you have kids, deal with it. There is nothing in the law that states you and your children are entitled to special treatment from the airlines.

    • gman863 says:


      * The kids

    • Geekybiker says:

      That is likely part of it. I doubt there are many frequent travelers with children compared to the population as a whole. Shave some cost and attract people who fly more often. Sounds like a win, win.

  31. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    The solution is simple. Ban anyone over 65, younger than 10, and heavier than 250 from all flights. Oh, and Californians, New Yorkers, and people from Denver and Seattle.

  32. Krystal says:

    My last flight, 2 weeks ago, had this horrible toddler next to me who kept shitting in her diaper. This would not be noteworthy, since babies poop, but she was apparently sick with the flu and an ear infection, and her loser mother changed the diaper on the freaking seat, twice … and then refused to change her any more because she was sick of it.

    So, in short, I do not support any special benefit for parents because people like that woman take advantage of them, leaving those of us who are decent human beings with no space to stash carry ons.

  33. Ayla says:

    Really it’s for everyone’s best interest that they let families board first. Who wants kids climbing all over you as they try to make their way down those narrow isles? Just let them board and get settled so that the grown ups can get boarded and settled themselves and everyone is happy. Sheesh.

  34. Brave Little Toaster says:

    I don’t understand all the calls for kids to board last. I’d much rather sit around in the terminal where there is plenty of space while waiting on kids and folks with mobility problems, because once I’m in that tiny little airplane seat – let’s GO.

    Do you really think people are going to be more patient and “relaxed” squeezed in the airplane with half their luggage inaccessible and squished against a person they’ve found a way to hate (too fat, too smelly, too whatever) than they would be in the terminal?

  35. ecvogel says:

    Work at a attraction that is outdoor based. It takes a SUV driving family at least 20 min to upload a SUV (stroller, baby, belongings) while slowing down lane traffic.Gotta move the whole house just to take the baby. These parents need to rethink things. Most are done in a few minutes, maybe 5 min max.

  36. Antigone says:

    Wow, so much hate.

    1. Preboarding starts, get this, before boarding starts. That’s the whole point. If they start boarding 30 minutes before scheduled takeoff, the people preboarding get on before that. They aren’t making anyone wait. They aren’t inconveniencing you at all!

    2. Making people with small kids get on during the regular boarding process will likely inconvenience you and hold up the line. Carseats have to be installed in the window seat, which is a lengthy process. While it’s happening, the rest of the people in the row will have to stand in the aisle. Carseats are heavy and bulky and are likely to smack you in the face while being tugged down the narrow aisle. Toddlers are likely to get antsy and squirmy and try to run off while waiting in the standstill line to get on the plane. Mine behaves much more pleasantly when she is comfortably restrained in her carseat. You WANT her already restrained in the carseat when you enter the plane.

    But this isn’t really about what makes boarding run smoothly for everyone. It’s about someone getting a supposed benefit that they didn’t “earn”. Wah, wah, it should be all about who has the most money getting everything. What a garbage culture we have.

  37. coldfire409 says:

    I live in Orlando and many airlines have stopped pre boarding families with small children here a long time ago. Even in other cities I notice that families with small children don’t pre board flights to Orlando because there are so many families with small children.

  38. IantoJones says:

    I’m in a powerchair and therefore get the privilege of pre-boarding.
    The thing is, I do actually need it.
    The process of getting me transferred to an airplane aisle-chair and then getting me and my KAFOS (long thigh to foot braces – polio) into one of two front bulkhead window seats (I pretty much don’t move once seated, and if anyone else sat window or center seat, they’d not be able to pass my metal kneejoints; front bulkhead because it’s the only way a one hr flight doesn’t become screaming agony — picture yourself, already confined in the airplane seat. Now picture your legs wrapped in metal and hard plastic, and that the arms of your seat pin your thighs together, completely motionless. Now picture that between the low seat height and narrow width, your knee-locks overlap at the center, thereby pinning your encased calves feet in place. No movement AT ALL from hips down. Not to shift weight, or scratch an itch, or keep your foot awake — and your legs have FULL sensation (not numb, just very weak). Legs back neck shoulders are in AGONY and spasms before an hour is out. Add to this that even if you have an eight-hour flight, no lav for you — can’t get to it. Contrast that image with a seat with a wall before you instead of a row of seats. Two critical differences: 1) you can arrange your legs such that your *heels* are holding your calves, avoiding the trapped lock knees and therefore keeping open option of moving them w/your arms to avoid cramps/maintain circulation/etc, and 2) *you have access to the lav* — by hauling yourself up onto your braces, holding onto the wall to drag useless legs behind you, then dragging forward using wall corners (the entry hall/aisle/kitchen wall corners) for leverage and then into the front lav (where you can lean back on the door to balance while you get clothing and the paper seat cover handled, then hold onto sink to pivot/fall onto the prepared seat.)

    And then arrive to find that 4times out of 10 an elephant took your chair for a joyride around the cargo bin, rendering it now the modern art interpretation of a boat anchor.
    You then have to provide pictures of the chair preflight to prove it wasn’t like that when they checked it in — preferably a pic in the departure airport holding a visible copy of that day’s paper.

    They will then begin to bicker about whose problem it is, and inform you there’s nothing to be done until your return Flight to the departure airport (heaven helP you if you’re not returning to your starting point), to receive a loaner chair while they repair your existing one — never mind that they’ll only be able to provide you a humongous heavy pushchair with wheels not placed for self-propulsion, which you are entirely incapable of pushing (to temporarily replace your personally-fit powerchair with special seating etc). And never mind that none of this addresses the fact that you’re stuck in an unfamiliar city presumably with plans for your visit, for several days, with no chair at all whatsoever because providing the loaner is the departure city branch’s problem.

    Flying was your only option because land travel would cost a great deal more by private car, and take far more time off work to boot — even longer for any attempt at public transit, because see consumerist posts about greyhound delay issues then add in that they need 48hr notice for an accessible bus, so even if THEY cause a missed connection, you can’t just hop the following bus. Also, picture riding for days seatbelted to your chair, with it chained to the floor, praying the driver can be bothered to let you off at a rest stop — and more importantly, get you back inboard without his wheelchair lift mysteriously “breaking” because he’s running late.

    Otherwise you’d better have brought enough Depends for the trip, and be able th change yourself under a blanket while sat in your chained-down chair.

    Anyhow. Yeah, I hope they don’t discontinue preboarding altogether.