United Airlines has decided to allow economy passengers in window seats to board prior to those in middle and aisle seats, aiming to expedite the boarding process.

From Oct. 26 onwards, economy travelers occupying window seats will join Group 3 during boarding. This will be followed by those in middle seats in Group 4, and finally, those in aisle seats will board under Group 5, as revealed by the Chicago-based airline in an internal communication.

The boarding strategy, termed "WILMA" – an acronym for window-middle-aisle – is projected to trim up to two minutes off the boarding time for each journey, according to the communication. This modification will be applicable to all domestic flights and a selection of international ones.

The boarding duration has seen a two-minute rise since the era before the pandemic, United noted. The airline has been piloting this new approach at a major hub and four domestic points to verify its effectiveness in reducing the increased time.

Before 2017, United utilized this seating protocol. But, with the introduction of its Basic Economy product with carry-on restrictions six years prior, the airline had to adapt to a five-group boarding framework, consolidating passengers in middle and aisle seats into Group 4.

Now, the airline mentioned that they possess the technical adaptability to integrate an additional boarding group.

Boarding procedures for first-class and business-class passengers remain unaltered. The pre-boarding process up to Group 3, encompassing individuals with disabilities, solo-traveling minors, military personnel on active duty, and families with toddlers aged 2 or below, will stay consistent.

Furthermore, all passengers under a single economy booking will have the privilege to board collectively.

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