TODAY

TODAY   |  March 22, 2013

American Airlines testing faster boarding procedure

With lengthy boarding lines frustrating passengers, American Airlines is searching for a new procedure that would get them onto planes faster, experimenting at airports in Fort Lauderdale, Baltimore and elsewhere. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> a new way to speed up the boarding process is being tested in ft. lauderdale , florida, where we find nbc's kerry sanders . good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. as a regular flyer i know this frustration, your flight is scheduled to leave at 7:31, it's now 7:31, you're sitting in your seat on the plane and look down the aisle and there's somebody still coming down with their luggage gumming up the whole system. is there a better and faster way to get passengers on a plane? well american airlines says quite possibly there is.

>> we'd like to continue with our executive platinum members.

>> reporter: after those with frequent flyer status in the first class seats get on the plane american airlines asks what if passengers with no overhead luggage got on next.

>> if you have only one carry on item you may join in boarding at this time.

>> reporter: american is testing that boarding process n ft. lauderda lauderdale , austin, baltimore and washington, dulles. to some it would appear logical.

>> the less stuff you have to move the quicker it will go.

>> reporter: on thursday flight 1031 from ft. lauder da toil dallas had 2 passengers board with no suitcases for the overhead bins. is it faster?

>> seems like it. i hope so.

>> people need to check their bags. they fill up all the compartments taking three and four carry-ones.

>> reporter: immediately suspicion from those with roller boards waiting to board.

>> i got 20 bucks says most people put their bags in the overhead compartment instead of under their seat.

>> reporter: american's flight attendants are policing that behavior. passengers pay $25 for the first bag, some travel agents wonder if this is another way to increase revenues.

>> if they gave the first free bag to the passenger, then a lot more people will put their bags through and walk on the plane and just get right on the plane.

>> reporter: and then there's this question, what's the benefit of boarding faster if you have to wait for your luggage when you land?

>> it's like hurrying up to wait again so i don't think it saves any time.

>> reporter: to be clear, if you have a small bag like this and it fits under your seat you get on first. if you have one of the big ones you get on next. how did the test work? flight 1031 in ft. lauderdale they were able to get the passengers on in 27 minutes, usually it takes 31 minutes to load a full 737 so it did work and the plane was able to push back at least five minutes early.

>> kerry sanders thank you so