All AAdvantage Members Will Get Preferred Boarding

Filed Under: American

American Airlines will give all AAdvantage members preferred boarding, which sure is a nice way to encourage people to join the AAdvantage program.

Group 6 boarding for AAdvantage members

Starting on Wednesday, December 16, 2020. all American AAdvantage members will receive Group 6 boarding at a minimum (yes, that even includes those booked in basic economy).

On top of that, there will be an announcement during boarding welcoming AAdvantage members, presumably intended to thank them for their business, and also to encourage others to sign up for AAAdvantage.

For now this is being trialed as a benefit, and only time will tell if it sticks around.

For context, American has up to nine boarding groups. There are different groups for premium cabin passengers, elite members, and co-branded credit card holders. Then historically Groups 6-9 have been the general boarding group. So nothing is being taken away from premium cabin passengers, elite members, or eligible co-brand credit card customers, as they’ll still be allowed to board first.

With this change, all AAdvantage members will board at the beginning of the general economy boarding groups. While it’s not a guarantee, generally those in Group 6 don’t have to gate check their carry-on bags.

All AAdvantage members can at least board with Group 6

What an awesome, tangible perk

Airlines always want you to join their loyalty programs. Even though it costs nothing  to join and you start earning perks (which have some cost to the airline), the hope is that it encourages people to consider the airline in the future, and it also allows the airline to market to you more easily.

I’ve been extremely impressed by the changes lately at AAdvantage, especially for elite members, like the introduction of elite choice rewards, and Platinum Pro status being elevated to oneworld Emerald.

On the other end of the spectrum, this is a perk that absolutely should move the needle with people joining AAdvantage. People are obsessed with boarding “early” (just look at how many people line up at gates before boarding even starts). If simply joining a program can get you that, then I could see that encouraging a lot of people.

This should encourage people to join the AAdvantage program

Bottom line

All American AAdvantage members will now get to board with Group 6, which has historically been the first non-preferred boarding group.

This is a great incentive to join the AAdvantage program, given that it costs nothing to join, and gets you something tangible here (in addition to miles). On top of that, it means that at this point there are very few restrictions associated with basic economy.

What do you make of this new AAdvantage boarding perk?

  1. Estamos groupo 8.
    Donde esta seat 16D ?
    Uh dude seat 16D is still seat 16D no matter what language.
    What next ? What floor is room 308 on ?

  2. I agree with several others: If everyone gets priority boarding, then, essentially no one gets priority boarding because the entire crowd is allowed to all get on at the same time!

  3. I’m all for people getting priority boarding, but what’s the goal here – to differentiate non-status American Airlines members from non-status Oneworld members, e.g. Alaska members? Is the thinking that crediting AA flights to AAdvantage is cheaper for the airline than paying Alaska (or another Oneworld member) for their miles?

  4. If anyone’s paying attention this is actually a demotion and not an advantage! I am currently an American Airlines aadvantage card member and when I fly I am always in group 5. So I’m supposed to be excited that I’m now going to be a 6 which is even worse then 5 was! Since everybody and their mother for some reason is now 4. It seems like every year it gets worse and worse. First they take away giving you points for how many miles you actually fly and change it to how much you are actually spending on a ticket. Which if anybody has noticed is less. No matter how much money you spend or how much you fly it isn’t worth anything anymore. Why have an American Advantage program at all? Because it seems like the only person is an advantage for anymore is the airlines.

  5. Lucky, why do you think AA is making so many “positive” changes to AAdvantage lately? Are they getting desperate? Since Dougie took over, they have done nothing but cut service and degrade their product. Just compare a DL A220’s Y cabin to AA’s MAX, it’s insane. They must be getting very desperate. Maybe the people flying AA now are the low yielding non-elites who’s business they don’t want after all?

  6. They should just number priorities into something simple like 1-100 that people can understand. This 9 group stuff – plus Concierge Key! – is ridiculous. The problem is that when someone gets a boarding pass they have little to no idea what their group means in practical terms unless they’re group 1.

  7. I wouldn’t think of Group 6 as “preferred boarding.” This is the problem though. With “Preferred Boarding” written across the BP too many people think that means they board first. It’s becoming out of control that 50 plus people line up for Group 1 boarding for a 737. Some Gate Agents police it better than others. I’ve come to point that I feel sorry for CKs because they literally get mowed down by the masses huddled at the boarding gate entrance.

    Personally I wish they just call First Class instead of Group 1. It’s not being a snob but I really don’t want to feel that I’m in a posh pit when I’m boarding an aircraft.

  8. I have some difficulty understanding how having 100 boarding levels is easier to understand than Concierge Key plus 9 of them, but moving on …

    If giving people slightly better access if they are AAdvantage members is the result, so be it, it’s not as if other people who were higher up the food chain would be affected (I’m OW Emerald with another airline and I was initially worried that would be negatively affected). I’m not sure how many extra AAdvantage members there are who don’t qualify above Group 6 for other reasons, so the number who benefit may be low. And I understand how AA would give them a minor benefit so they sign up and therefore receive AA marketing material.

    To me the bigger question is what are they rationing by creating this elaborate structure of who boards first. It seem that the main reason is that there isn’t enough space for all the passengers to stow their carry-ons and the airline needs to create a hierarchy of who will be forced to gate-check their bag. I travel with a bag that fits under the seat in front, so it’s not an issue for me, but I can see that the minor advantage gained by being an AAdvantage member could be the difference between having a carry-on and having to gate-check it. That sucks.

    (Disclosure: my most frequent travel sector is one usually operated by Dash-8s, and everyone has to gate-check those small wheely bags, but you reclaim them on the tarmac not at the baggage carousel.)

  9. Sooooo basically everyone is going to be in Group 6. Unless AA has realized that many of their economy passengers don’t have an AAdvantage account, which could be possible.

  10. Yeah, I was Group 5 with the credit card previously and now Group 6. What an awesome downgrade. I can’t hardly wait!

  11. So many people here commenting that obviously didn’t even read the article. If you’re group 5 with credit card, or group 2 with Elite, your still group 5 or group 2, you still board before the people who are only AAdvantage members. The people who are only AAdvantage members now get to board before people with no affiliation. It doesn’t affect anyone else’s priority boarding, you’ll still board first, it just shuffles around people that were currently in group’s 7-9 and means those who are AAdvantage members now get to be in Group 6. It’s a nice perk for them, with absolutely no effect on higher priority boarding.

  12. @Monique, @Biggy – Note that it is group 6 MINIMUM for AAdvantage members. You will still get Group 5 boarding with your credit card – it’s just no-status, no-card AAdvantage members getting Group 6.

    @Stu – I’m no expert in economics, but I’d guess these improvements to AAdvantage have to do with the loan AA took out against it… they had a significantly higher valuation than UAL/DAL for their loyalty program, so maybe they had to do some stuff to actually increase its value.

    @George N Romey – Actually they *did* used to just call First Class, Executive Platinum, etc. until finally Group 1 which was economy pax. But then it created a separate issue because half the plane was lining up for Group 1/Group 2 boarding, when there were 5 pre-groups to board first. So that’s the reason they implemented 9-group boarding – yes it’s more numbers, but it really is simpler to understand.

    @Mike C – The average person is traveling with a rollaboard and a backpack. Those in Group 8/Group 9 usually have to gate-check their rollaboards if it’s a full flight.

    Anyways – Theoretically, *every* flyer can now get Group 6 as long as they sign up for an AAdvantage account, which I assume is the goal. This builds loyalty by giving benefits even to low-revenue loyal flyers. I’d imagine a non-zero number of people will choose to fly AA just because of this benefit.

  13. I apologize to all. I realized after I had posted last night that AAdvantage was those who participated in frequent flier miles and not necessarily those with the AAdvantage Credit Card with the same name. So yes, those in Group 5 would remain in 5.

    I do have a question though, at one time “if I remember correctly” we used to be Group 4 and then became 5? Does anyone remember when this occurred (was it when they went up to 9 groups) and why? I used to feel like having the credit card was an advantage but now, not so much.

  14. @Monique… The change from Group 4 to Group 5 wasn’t actually a downgrade, it was just a more honest renaming of the groups. When credit card holders boarded with Group 4, certain passengers, like First Class and Concierge Key, boarded before Group 1, so Group 1 wasn’t really the first group to board. They renamed the groups so that the first passengers to board are now referred to as Group 1, and every other group number was incremented, even though there was no actual change to boarding priority.

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