United passengers predict brawls, threaten boycott as new boarding system takes effect

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By Dan Sears

These passengers are anything but United.

Customers of one of America’s biggest airlines are expressing outrage after the implementation of a new boarding method, known as WILMA.

Starting Thursday, those flying economy on United flights around the country began boarding with the new system, which sees passengers in window seats enter the aircraft first, regardless of the row.

Those booked into middle seats subsequently board the plane, followed by those in aisle seats.

United says the system helps ease congestion of the plane’s aisles and ultimately speeds up the time it takes for all fliers to take their seats.

The carrier previously used its WILMA boarding method up until 2017, saying it saved an average of two minutes for the boarding of domestic flights.

However, some patrons are less than impressed that the airline has brought WILMA back, with one saying they even expect brawls to break out due to limited luggage space in the overhead lockers.

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“With this approach, window seat passengers will have first dibs on overhead bins,” they speculated on X. “Unless the gate personnel strictly enforce the 2 item rule, I predict some interesting dialogue and disruptions to occur during boarding.”

Starting Thursday, those flying economy on United flights around the country began boarding with the new system, which sees passengers in window seats enter the aircraft first, regardless of the row.
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Another declared they were boycotting the airline over the system.

“Well, not flying United. I’m an aisle girlie and now I’m always going to lose out on overhead space,” the pundit proclaimed beneath a “Today Show” TikTok about WILMA.

Others said United should closely monitor the amount of carry-on luggage brought onto the plane in order to make it fair for those who have aisle seats.

“They need to crack down on people bringing multiple carry-on bags,” one declared beneath the same clip.

The carrier previously used its WILMA boarding method up until 2017, saying it saved an average of two minutes for the boarding of domestic flights.
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Other commenters claimed that boarding from the back of the airline would make more sense than the WILMA method, while several said they were unhappy that they’d now be boarding separately from their travel companions, despite being booked in the same row.

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However, some cheered the return of WILMA, with one writing beneath the “Today Show” TikTok: “Genius idea!! I travel two times a month and I hate having to wait for aisle people to get up for my window seat.”

The window-middle-aisle method only pertains to passengers in economy.

United’s WILMA United system involves six groups plus travelers who qualify for “preboarding” — such as customers with disabilities, active military members and unaccompanied minors.

Group one is first class, while business-class passengers form group two.

United says the system helps ease congestion of the plane’s aisles and ultimately speeds up the time it takes for all fliers to take their seats.
AP
United’s WILMA United system involves six groups plus travelers who qualify for “preboarding” — such as customers with disabilities, active military members, and unaccompanied minors.
Shutterstock

Economy passengers with tickets for a window, middle or aisle seat will then board in groups three, four and five, respectively.

The sixth group is reserved for basic economy on domestic flights, as well as those who don’t have a boarding group on their pass.

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