United Airlines is now giving passengers who haven’t reached Elite status the opportunity to pay $9 to board more quickly.
As far as I’m concerned, there are few things to pay more money for on a flight. The food isn’t good; my seat is reserved, so I’m not concerned about not having a place to sit; and if there isn’t enough room in the overhead, they’ll take your bag at the door of the plane for free. But apparently, people love anything that seems like a perk at a time when air travel is stressful and services increasingly a la carte.
The real kicker here is the reaction from the folks who actually do have Elite or Premier Access status.
“United recently reduced boarding groups from seven to five, causing outrage among many frequent fliers worried about longer lines to board,” writes CNBC. “Now with even more travelers able to access premium boarding for a few bucks, you have to wonder if hard-earned elite-level perks are being diluted.”
It’s true. If you fly a lot on one airline, you deserve the benefits of your loyalty. At the same time, it’s a bit messed up to begrudge other passengers who will be stuck in middle seats with only peanuts and a small cup of Coke on a long cramped flight because you have to wait a few more minutes before you reach your recliner in the sky. We all have to make concessions. Even the Elite among us.
Anyways, this new option will entitle the regular people to board with Group 2. The super Elite people will still get Group 1. The people who want to use the $9 for a cocktail in airport (ahem… over here) will board with Groups 3 through 5. Other airlines, like Southwest, are also doing this sort of thing, CNBC reports.