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Airlines Know Their Boarding Process Is Excruciatingly Inefficient. Here’s Why They Won’t Change It.

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Nowadays, it feels like every step at the airport takes longer, including boarding the plane.

In fact, it tends to be one of the more aggravating and arduous parts of air travel — but airlines have figured out how to monetize the process, and they’re not eager to overhaul it anytime soon, CNBC reported.

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It took about 15 minutes to board a plane in the 1970s; now, it takes 30 to 40 minutes to board roughly 140 passengers on a domestic flight, according to research by Boeing, The New York Times reported.

And airlines are cashing in on longer boarding times thanks to loyalty programs, which often allow passengers to board ahead of those without priority. The share of revenue generated by loyalty programs increased to 16% in 2021 from about 12% in 2019, Reuters reported.

Last year, Delta saw $5.7 billion in cash sales from American Express and other partners, and American Airlines raked in $4.5 billion in cash payments from its partners including Citi and Barclays, according to the outlet.

“The different boarding groups that we see today have emerged because people value their priority in boarding,” Kerry Philipovitch, former senior vice president of customer service at American Airlines, told CNBC. “So airlines are using that to generate more revenue and reward their best customers.”

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Philipovitch admitted to the outlet that offering that “value” and “reward” could slow down the boarding process overall.

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