United rolls out Priority Boarding fee, but is it more of a carry-on fee?

United rolls out Priority Boarding fee, but is it more of a carry-on fee?

CHICAGO — For US$9 United Airlines passengers can now get Priority Boarding and the perks that come with it.

The airline’s newly introduced ‘Priority Boarding’ gives guaranteed boarding to passengers with Group 2, which also includes Chase preferred credit card holders and passengers with elite frequent traveller status.

United has a total of five boarding groups for each flight, with Group 2 typically getting an early start.

Priority Boarding can be selected at time of booking, if available, or passengers can check back at United.com at a later date (but before departure) to check availability.

Some say the new initiative is more of a carry-on bag fee. Seeing how the main benefit to priority boarding is securing overhead storage space, industry experts are calling the new measure a way to simply monetize scarce onboard real estate.

Even United is marketing the new initiative as such, in a new ad that encourages passengers to “Get onboard and to the overhead bins faster.”

Moreover, the ad lists the fee as “from $9 per traveller”, meaning the variable fee could go up depending on the flight booked, the date, time of day and day of week.

United is not the first airline to implement Priority Boarding; Southwest Airlines has been offering its Early Bird boarding product for years, at a fee of $15 per flight segment.

United said it does not anticipate any logjams as a result of the new Priority Boarding, which is now being rolled out.

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