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United Airlines is joining Southwest and JetBlue in returning to its pre-pandemic boarding policy, instead of the back-to-front seating it has done for the better part of the last year.

The new, well actually, the old policy goes into effect on Thursday, April 15, according to Travel + Leisure.

It’s another sign that airlines feel like things are getting back to normal for air travel after more than a year of suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In order to comply with new health and safety protocols, airlines had been limiting capacity on planes, blocking middle seats, and boarding back to front instead of prioritized groups.

“Last year, United temporarily switched to boarding from the back of the aircraft to the front to improve social distancing,” Maddie King, a United Airlines spokeswoman, said in a statement shared with Travel + Leisure. “Now that more customers are returning, this can result in customers gathering in the gate area to wait near the boarding door for their row to be called. This gathering defeats the social distancing purpose of back-to-front boarding.”

King added that nothing will change from a safety standpoint.

“United has proven the safety of our travel experience — even when the plane is full — through cleaning, onboard HEPA air filtration, and mask requirements,” she said. “Nothing about United’s CleanPlus commitment or mask requirement is changing.”

Both JetBlue and Southwest changed their boarding policies last month.

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by Virgin America Flight Attendant
TJ Newman