Delta is changing the way passengers board airplanes starting in January

Delta is changing the way passengers board airplanes starting in January
Posted at 1:00 PM, Dec 11, 2018

A new boarding process is coming to Delta Air Lines.

Beginning on January 23, 2019, the airline will ditch zone boarding in favor of a new — and more complex — process based on ticket type and color.

Despite the expansion in number of groups from six to eight, Delta said the new format hopes to "encourage fewer customers to line up in the gate area" and ultimately speed up boarding.

The Atlanta-based carrier will still begin boarding with passengers that need extra time, followed by premium passengers sitting in its Delta One suites (applicable on select domestic and all international flights) and then its new Premium Select cabin on some international flights or First Class on domestic flights.

After that, it gets complicated: The airline used to board the Sky Priority zone — passengers sitting in Comfort+ and Gold and Platinum Medallion members — together.

Moving forward, that group will split into two, with Comfort+ passengers boarding first followed by Sky Priority, meaning high-spending members of its frequent flier program will have to wait a little bit longer.

Following that, Delta will board economy passengers by announcing Main Cabin 1 though 3, instead of Zone 1 though 4.

Fliers that purchase Delta's cheapest tickets will board last in a new group: Zone 4 will now be called Basic Economy. Delta credit card holders and Silver Medallion members will board with Main Cabin 1.

Each section will have different colors displayed when they purchase their ticket on Delta's website and on airport screens to help.

"This latest enhancement further refines how Delta's process works and is designed to better link the Delta product they purchased to differentiated experiences throughout their journey," said Tim Mapes, Delta's chief marketing officer, in a statement.

Delta (DAL) joins United (UAL) and American (AAL), which both recently revamped their boarding processes. The goal is to minimize delays and load planes quicker.