New American Airlines Boarding Order Introduced

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One of my travel pet peeves as a near-weekly flyer is the ambiguity of the American Airlines boarding order process.

While the order in which passengers are allowed to board has been clearly articulated in the past, the American Airlines boarding order process is often still poorly executed.

Right now, there are technically nine different boarding groups within the current process.  Despite this, gate agents rarely call these groups as nine separate and distinct groups which results in long lines on the jet congestion in the boarding area.

The passenger group labeled “Group 1” is actually the 6th group to board.  I believe that is one of the more confusing elements of the current boarding process.  Many of these passengers believe that they will actually be able to board the aircraft before anyone else.  They do not fly frequently enough to know otherwise and, as a result, frequently clog the boarding gates.

The new boarding process should help make the process of lining up to board less complicated.  Since this requires gate agents to actually follow the process, pause appropriately between groups, and not decide to board several groups all at one time, it is still subject to failure.  Also with the new order, Group 1 will still technically be the 2nd group, but the remaining groups will be more clearly delineated.

I’ve long been critical of the existing American Airlines boarding order process.  Things have gotten much worse over the past year.  Many gate agents board flights much earlier than posted boarding times, ignore the upgrade processing procedures, and allow chaos to reign at boarding time.

I am hopeful that the new procedures will make boarding time less chaotic and lead to a smoother passenger experience.  Most of all, as an Executive Platinum, I feel good about my chances to still get my carry-on bag stowed in the overhead bin provided that the gate agents board at the posted time.

The new American Airlines boarding order process will roll out on March 1.

Below you can review the American Airlines boarding order table showing the current and new process.  Within the boarding order column, I’ve added sequence numbers to help track the individual groups but the remaining data is directly supplied by American Airlines.

American Airlines Boarding Order – Current Vs. New

Boarding order Current New – starting March 1
1 – Preboarding ConciergeKeySM members
2 – Priority boarding lane First Class
Active duty U.S. military with military I.D.
(Business Class on a 2-class international aircraft)
Group 1
First Class
Active duty U.S. military with military I.D.
(Business Class on a 2-class international aircraft)
3 – Priority boarding lane Business Class
Executive Platinum
oneworld® EmeraldSM
Group 2
Executive Platinum
oneworld® EmeraldSM
(Business Class on a 3-class aircraft)
4 – Priority boarding lane Platinum Pro
Platinum
oneworld® SapphireSM
Group 3
Platinum Pro
Platinum
oneworld® SapphireSM
5 – Priority boarding lane Gold
oneworld® RubySM
Group 4
Gold
oneworld® RubySM
6 – Priority boarding lane Alaska Airlines MVP® members
AirPass
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive cardmembers
Customers who bought Priority boarding
Group 4
Alaska Airlines MVP® members
AirPass
Premium Economy
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive cardmembers
Customers who bought Priority boarding
7 – Main boarding lane Group 1
Main Cabin Extra
Eligible AAdvantage® credit cardmembers*
Group 5 (Preferred boarding)
Main Cabin Extra
Eligible AAdvantage® credit cardmembers*
Eligible corporate travelers**
8 – Main boarding lane Group 2 Group 6
9 – Main boarding lane Group 3 Group 7
10 – Main boarding lane Group 4 Group 8
11 – Main boarding lane Group 9
Basic Economy

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last eighteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 47.5 US states. Although she averages 200 days a year on the road, she loves to return to “the homestead” in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and cocktail mixology.

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