Skip to main content

No carry-on luggage? Please board now

By Katia Hetter, CNN
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Mon March 25, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Passengers without carry-on luggage may board after first class and frequent fliers
  • American is testing the program in four airports
  • Other airlines already allow bag-free customers to board before those with carry-ons

(CNN) -- No carry-on luggage? No problem.

American Airlines may soon allow customers without carry-on luggage to board right after first class and elite status passengers -- and before other coach customers hauling luggage into the passenger cabin.

The airline has been quietly testing the program for several weeks to positive response at Dulles International Airport, Baltimore Washington International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, said an American spokeswoman.

"This boarding test is one more example of the progress we're making to provide our customers with an exceptional travel experience as we leverage innovation to evaluate and improve every step of the customer journey," said American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely, in a statement.

Huguely added that this is "a limited test."

"Should we decide to modify our regular boarding process, we will be informing our people and our customers first," she said.

The policy makes sense to travel blogger John DiScala of JohnnyJet.com, who first noticed and tweeted about the American test program during the boarding of a Chicago flight at the Fort Lauderdale airport last week.

"The plane doesn't make money when it's sitting on the ground," he said. "Having people without carry-ons board (first) makes the boarding process quicker. They're always waiting for people with bags (to stow their bags). And they're always trying to get people to check their bags (for a fee)."

Other airlines already reward passengers

American was the first airline to charge a checked bag fee in 2008. But it's not the first airline to give priority to passengers boarding bag-free.

Alaska Airlines has been offering early boarding for passengers with no carry-ons since October 2011. "We don't offer this on every flight, but do offer this on our fuller flights," said airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan, via e-mail. Those passengers get to board after travelers needing assistance or traveling with children, uniformed members of the military, first class and frequent flier passengers.

In addition to allowing its frequent fliers and purchasers of premium seats to board first, Frontier Airlines also boards customers without carry-on luggage ahead of burdened passengers.

American carriers collected $2.6 billion in baggage fees in the first three quarters of 2012, according to Department of Transportation figures.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:10 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
updated 12:43 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
updated 1:36 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
updated 3:01 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
updated 1:11 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Tucked away near the border with Cameroon, this poor corner of Nigeria is no stranger to such brazen, violent acts.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
An infant mountain Gorilla sits in the dense jungle canopy on the edge of Uganda's Bwindi National Park in this 29, January 2007 photo. Bwindi, or the 'Impenetrable Forest' as it is known to many tourists is home to the majority of Uganda's rare and endangered mountain gorilla population where plans are underway to habituate two more gorilla family groups to counter growing demand from a flourishing gorilla trek tourism business, a major source of income for the Uganda tourism Authority. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE. (Photo credit should read STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)
Tthe constant threat of poaching, deforestation and human diseases means the world's mountain gorillas could be completely wiped out.
updated 9:33 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Prince George takes a special interest in an Australian animal on a zoo trip.
updated 10:02 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
How could a teenage stowaway survive hours in a jet's sub-zero wheel well at 38,000 feet?
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 6:58 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
See what life is like for superyacht stewardesses-in-training. One thing's for certain -- they can never say "no."
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Home of Bruce Lee, divine dim sum, lofty buildings, loftier real estate prices and easy access to the great outdoors.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT