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Pack Light and Board Early on American

Bagless passengers who don’t need to vie for overhead-bin space—and thus, likely don’t care when they board—will now get to board before those with carry-on bags. Isn’t it ironic.

Today, American announced that it will allow flyers with just one personal item that will fit under a plane seat (like a purse or tote bag) to board early. Passengers traveling light will get on the plane with group two, the section that boards right after elite flyers.

American first began testing this style of boarding in March at select airports. The revamped boarding process is in effect starting today.

Virtually no one flies without any luggage. So you can board early only if you check your carry-on and pay a baggage fee while clinging to the forlorn hope that your luggage will make it to your final destination alive. Checked baggage fees for domestic flights start at $25 on American.

Is this, then, a good thing? “Yes!” says American. According to a press release from the airline, the revised boarding strategy will help American achieve “a more timely departure and arrival.” A spokesperson from the carrier said, “Our tests indicate that this new boarding process will improve our dependability and on-time performance, while being easier and more enjoyable for our customers. It’s another example of our promise to put our customers at the center of everything we do.”

As usual, a major airline is implementing policy changes because it just wants its customers to be happy. How sweet.

American claims the initial test received “overwhelmingly positive feedback from American’s customers,” which is strange because our readers loved the idea about as much as they love flyers who recline. Comments left on this site about the new boarding style range from “I’m not sure this is really going to help” to “Stupid idea that contradicts common sense” to “Makes no sense! WHY would you want to board early unless to store a carry-on?”

I don’t think anyone is fooled. This new way of boarding  is more a plan to spur additional revenue from checked baggage than a love note to passengers. But the big question is whether other legacy airlines will follow suit. We’ll keep you posted.

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