“This update drives efficiency in the boarding process, making it faster and easier for both customers and employees as we continue to listen and respond to feedback.”
Delta Air Lines will no longer board planes back-to-front, the company confirmed to Travel + Leisure, moving away from one of the last coronavirus pandemic-era practices in the airline industry.
This week, the airline went back to boarding its planes by zones, which are allocated based on seat assignment and loyalty status, a Delta spokesman told T+L. The decision was made because boarding back-to-front disrupted efficiency.
“As Delta continues to welcome customers back onboard, we also continue to explore opportunities that keep people moving efficiently and enhance the airport experience,” the Delta spokesman told T+L. “This update drives efficiency in the boarding process, making it faster and easier for both customers and employees as we continue to listen and respond to feedback.”
The decision to return to boarding by zone also preserves overhead bin space for premium customers who board earlier. Like pre-pandemic-era times, customers needing extra assistance and active duty military will board first, followed by Delta One and those with Diamond medallion status, followed by Delta Premium Select and first-class, followed by Delta Comfort passengers, then Sky Priority members, and finally main cabin zones 1, 2, 3, and basic economy.
Additionally, Delta will re-introduce virtual queuing, which the airline initially started to roll out in January 2020 before the pandemic forced the company to press pause on the feature. Customers will now be able to be notified when their actual seat is boarding through the company’s app, rather than the flight as a whole.
Delta’s decision to stop boarding back-to-front follows similar policy changes from other United States airlines earlier this year, including United Airlines and JetBlue.
In April, Delta brought back snacks (including the beloved Biscoff cookies), followed by fresh meals in June. And in May, Delta stopped blocking the middle seat on its planes, the last U.S. carrier to do so.
While airlines are slowly getting back to pre-COVID-19 times, masks are still required on planes, a federal mandate that has been extended until at least January 2022. And several airlines — including Delta — have announced employee vaccination rules or incentive programs.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.