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Window seaters: You'll soon get to board first on this airline

An airline is planning to speed up its boarding process by having economy class passengers with window seats board first.
Plane seats are shown.
Posted at 8:42 PM, Oct 18, 2023

Airplane travelers choosing to sit by the window now get a view and a faster, less crouched path to their seat on one airline.

United Airlines announced Wednesday it will start boarding economy class passengers with window seats first, beginning Oct. 26, according to an internal memo from the carrier.

The intention of the new seating plan — known as WILMA, or window-middle-aisle — is to cut up to two minutes off boarding time, at a time when the airline said "boarding times have increased up to two minutes since 2019."

And the new plan seemed to indeed cut the time at the five airports where it was tested — a hopeful sign as the busy holiday travel season ahead is typically filled with delays and long lines.

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With WILMA, United's preboarding system will stay in place for certain customers, such as those with disabilities, unaccompanied minors, active-duty military or families with young children. Also unchanged will be first-class and business-class travelers boarding the plane first.

The changes will start with the fourth boarding group. Window and exit rows will board first, followed by middle then aisle seats.

However, the airline said multiple customers on the same economy reservation will be allowed to board together.

WILMA had previously been used by the airline up until 2017, when United introduced its carry-on restricted basic economy fee.

It's not the first time the airline has tried to cut down on travelers' wait times this year. In June, the company announced its mobile app was offering new features to allow customers to change their itinerary more quickly, instead of waiting in a line to talk to an agent or in a backlog of phone calls.