Airlines continually tweak the order in which they board passengers. They’ve tried everything from a free-for-all to window-seats-and-back-of-plane first, to random boarding. One airline has even tried boarding passengers without carry-on bags first, which makes sense since pausing to find overhead bin space jams up the boarding of everyone behind. JetBlue recently changed its boarding procedure, so it’s a good time to take a look at how the different U.S.-based airlines are getting passengers from gates to seats.
Why is this an issue? Overhead bin space. If you’re the last to board, then the chances increase that cabin crew will make you gate-check your carry-on bag as the bins get filled by those who boarded ahead of you.
Pre-boarding: Military; special needs; families with young children
First group: First class
Second group: Mileage Plan elites; anyone purchasing premium-class seating
Third group: Passengers sitting behind exit rows
Fourth group: Everyone else
Pre-boarding: Concierge key members; families with small children may pre-board upon request, see gate agent
First group: First class; active-duty U.S. military with military ID; Business Class on a two-class international aircraft
Second group: Executive Platinum; oneworld Emerald; Business Class on a three-class aircraft
Third group: Platinum; Platinum Pro; oneworld Sapphire credit card holders
Fourth group: Gold; oneworld Ruby; Alaska Airlines MVP members; AirPass; Premium Economy; Citi AAdvantage Executive card members customers who bought priority boarding
Fifth group: Main Cabin Extra; Eligible AAdvantage credit cardmembers; Eligible corporate travelers
Sixth group: Main cabin
Seventh group: Main cabin
Eighth group: Main cabin