American Airlines Doubles Time Passengers Must Be At The Gate

American Airlines has doubled the time that passengers should be at the gate before a domestic flight. The US carrier has introduced the new guidelines as it continues to deal with the global crisis.

American Airlines
American Airlines is asking passengers to arrive at the gate earlier. Photo: Getty Images

Every airline has a set of guidelines for how early passengers should be at the gate. Miss this, and you (and your checked luggage) could be offloaded from the flight. It can be tempted to cut it fine, and while it feels good when you just make it, missing a trip is a real hassle. Now American Airlines has altered its gate time guidelines.

What’s changed?

Previously American Airlines passengers were told to be at the gate by one of two times, depending on what flight they were taking. On a domestic flight, this stood at 15 minutes before departure. It stood at 30 minutes for an international trip. Both are pretty reasonable. However, the US carrier has now doubled this for some passengers.

According to new guidance spotted by The Points Guy, the American carrier now expects passengers to be at the gate 30 minutes before departure for domestic flights. This increases to 45 minutes for long haul flights.

Doors will now be closed 15 minutes before departure. Photo: Getty Images

Doors closing early

American Airlines has also changed the time that doors will be closed before flights. This has increased from 10 to 15 minutes, according to American. This explains why you can no longer arrive at the gate 15 minutes before the flight departs. Passengers will not be allowed to board the aircraft once the door has closed. The airline also reserves the right to reassign seats.

However, the 15-minute door rule appears to apply to all flights regardless of destination. Perhaps American Airlines is asking passengers to arrive at the gate earlier to allow for more time to prepare for boarding. Given the current guidelines on social distancing, some airlines have been re-evaluating their boarding procedures.

What are other airlines doing?

Last month Simple Flying reported that rival Delta Air Lines had adjusted its boarding policy. The carrier is only boarding ten passengers at a time to try to comply with social distancing. This would stop passengers needing to cluster in a jet bridge.

Delta A220
Delta Air Lines has also changed some of its policies. Photo: Getty

Such a change means that boarding will take longer. However, it is possible that it wouldn’t take that much longer, given a current lack of passengers. Delta Air Lines has also begun to implement social distancing onboard its flights, leaving at least one seat between passengers in the economy section of the aircraft.

Of course, exceptions can be made if necessary, for example, families traveling with young children. It is the gate agents that deal with the request. Therefore, if American follows suit, it would also allow agents more time to sort such situations out.

What do you think of American Airlines’ new gate arrival guidelines? A significant change, or too much? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!