This is a question that Rob and I faced on…
The aisle seats often go the fastest when travelers are booking. Everyone wants easy access to the aisle in case they need to use the restroom or simply want to get up and stretch their legs. When you’re traveling with a partner or with family, you might end up taking a block of seats where the arrangement doesn’t matter much, but solo travelers gravitate towards the aisle more often than not. With revised general boarding procedures from any airlines, including United.
The old procedures loaded planes back-to-front, and some airlines – such as Virgin – do this fantastically well. Other airlines mismanage this seemingly simple task and that leads to a big backup as people try to find their seats. The new procedures aim to streamline boarding by allowing people onto the planes by boarding based on where your seat is: window, center or aisle. Window seats board first, after all the first class and priority boarding passengers, and the aisle sitters are the last to load.
Theoretically, this sounds like an easy way to load up a large plane, but the reality is that the window people clog up the aisles just as much as anyone else in the back-to-front model. And the aisle seat people are left with the least overhead space of any of the other travelers. Since solo aisle-seaters are often business travelers with carry-on overnight bags, this means that the entire boarding group is often forced to gate check their bags before finally sitting down. I don’t mind gate-checking my bag, but I’ve had to do it on every trip I’ve flown with United this year. Next time, I’m going for a window seat, boarding early and getting by bag into some overhead space. And I’m going to enjoy the view during my flight.