Dis-United Passengers Predict Riots Amid New Boarding Procedure

WILMA: Pros And Cons

Stock image of United Airlines aircraft. Credit: Philip Pilosian/Shiutterstock.com

A controversial aircraft boarding technique has sparked discontent among United passengers in the US. But why is this boarding procedure causing a commotion?

On Thursday, October 27, America’s renowned airline, United, has begun to implement its renewed boarding approach termed ‘WILMA’ in locations nationwide, according to the New York Post.

Reviving WILMA

Under the window, middle and aisle (WILMA) aircraft boarding procedure travellers with window seats are the first to board the plane, irrespective of their row number. This is followed by passengers in middle seats, and then those occupying the aisle positions.

United’s rationale behind this method is to diminish aisle blockage, ensuring a quicker seating process for everyone.

The airline had formerly implemented WILMA up to 2017, which reportedly cut down boarding times by an average of two minutes for domestic journeys.

Mixed Reactions From Passengers

Nevertheless, the reintroduction of WILMA hasn’t been universally lauded. One traveller voiced their concerns on X, remarking: ‘With this approach, window seat passengers will have first dibs on overhead bins. Unless the gate personnel strictly enforce the 2 item rule, I predict some interesting dialogue and disruptions to occur during boarding.’

Another was so unhappy with the change that they openly announced a boycott, stating: ‘Well, not flying United. I’m an aisle girlie and now I’m always going to lose out on overhead space.’

Conversely, a few travellers welcomed WILMA’s comeback. One individual commented: ‘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 WILMA Procedure

The window-middle-aisle method is exclusively for those in the economy class. United’s comprehensive WILMA system consists of six groups, in addition to a ‘preboarding’ category for individuals like those with disabilities, active military personnel, and unaccompanied children.

The initial group comprises first-class passengers. Business-class travellers form the second group. Those in the economy class, based on their seat type (window, middle, or aisle), will board in the third, fourth, and fifth groups respectively.

The sixth and final group caters to basic economy for domestic flights and those without a designated boarding group on their ticket.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • David Goulty

      28 October 2023 • 14:57

      If you all board from the front, then they need to board passengers sitting at the back first, that way the aisle doesn’t get blocked.

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