United Reverses Family Boarding Policy

Families with young children can now board early on United Airlines’ flights By: Michelle Juergen
United has reversed its policy on early boarding for families. // © 2016 iStock
United has reversed its policy on early boarding for families. // © 2016 iStock

The Details

United Airlines

United Airlines has reversed its policy on making families board with all other passengers, now allowing those with children age 2 and under to board their flights early. The carrier formerly offered this amenity until 2012, when it changed its boarding process. It is the last of the major airlines to reinstate this policy.

Why It Matters:
Yes, we all want to get in and out of the plane as fast as possible, but allowing families with young kids to board early can help speed up the process — strollers get checked stat, freeing up baggage handlers to deal with other luggage and flight attendants to serve other passengers. And, of course, it makes flying less stressful for the parents of little ones — and, in turn, other fliers. Let your clients with kids know that they finally have another flight option that might just be a little less terrible.

Fast Facts:
- The policy will take effect Feb. 15, 2016.

- United revamped its boarding policy in April 2012, disallowing families with young children to board early.

- The new move is part of a larger effort by the airline to be more attentive to passengers' needs. Current family boarding policies vary by airline. On Alaska Airlines, for example, families with children under the age of 2 can board before first class and elite customers. On JetBlue, however, families with children under 2 board after elite members and passengers in premium seats but before the rest of the plane.

What They Are Saying:
“It takes a little bit of the stress out of the travel situation,” said Sandra Pineau-Boddison, senior vice president of customers for United. “Some things are just the right thing to do.”