Northwest's new boarding policy


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Gotta catch a flight in a hurry? Well, the fifth-biggest air carrier has scrapped row-by-row boarding for coach passengers. Bob Moon says Northwest Airlines wants to cut the turnaround time between flights.

BOB MOON: Northwest still assigns seats, it's just no longer boarding the way most airlines do.

[ Gate announcement: "Continue boarding our main cabin, start from the rear of the aircraft. Rows 31 through 34 are welcome aboard at this time." ]

Coach flyers now just line up and get on randomly, maybe not as leisurely, but travel expert Tom Parsons says airlines are dropping comforts to compete on price.

TOM PARSONS:"We want to fly from Point A-to-B, we want to be frugal, and we're demanding less."

Northwest discovered planes fill up as much as 15 minutes faster this way. That keeps them in the air more.

PARSONS: "If they fly them six times a day, that's an hour-and-a-half. That's almost a whole flight."

Which may help Northwest leave the competition back at the gate.

[ Gate announcement: ". . . continue boarding, rows 29 and higher." ]

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.


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