New: American Airlines App Boarding Notifications

Filed Under: American

Here’s a fantastic development. As of today, American Airlines’ app will notify you when boarding for your flight starts. A message will pop up saying:

“We have started to board your flight to [destination]. Please head to gate [number].”

It’s my understanding that the push notification is tied to when the first boarding pass is scanned, so if there’s a delay in boarding time then you should know as a result of this new feature.

American Airlines has been testing this functionality since April, though for whatever reason it took them nearly six months to implement it systemwide. This is an area where American has lagged both Delta and United, as both airlines have offered this functionality for a long time now.

So, why does this matter? If you’re in a situation where you have a rolling delay (either due to maintenance, crew, or weather), it can be risky to wait in a lounge or leave the gate area, since boarding could start at any moment.

It’s one thing if American did a good job of keeping people updated during delays, but they don’t — instead they always only delay a flight by a few minutes, and often only do so after the scheduled departure time. Since gate monitors aren’t always updated correctly, I’m always on edge when I leave the American Airlines gate area during a delay.

With this new functionality you’ll know as soon as boarding starts, which would put me at ease if leaving the gate area during a delay.

I’ve written in the past about just how frustrating it can be not to get push notifications in these kinds of situations, especially given that American is awful about posting delays in advance.

This is also useful in those instances where a gate agent decides to start the boarding process early, so that you can know it makes sense to head to the gate (to make sure there’s room in the overhead bin for your bag).

This is a development I’m really excited about…

  1. Brilliant IT move to counteract all the “false starts” created by AA’s chronic delays, seemingly random boarding policies, etc. I guess it was easier than fixing the underlying problems.

  2. @Lucky. Thank you so much for this post. I find the most stressful part of traveling is during the boarding process. (Handicap People, Concierge Key people, Group 1 Military, Group 2 Biz First, Group 3 Plat Pro / Plat, —— Group 8)
    Traveling with a simple backpack I really don’t need the overhead bins. So, this will allow some of us to stay in lounge (or in a relaxed state) until app kicks in.
    No need to congregate at that gate.

  3. Hopefully these will be more accurate than the rolling 15 minute delays for problems that they know will take much longer than 15 minutes. Or the “non-delays” even though the aircraft has yet to arrive.

  4. Also, I notice a new pop-up on upcoming flights prompting me to upgrade to Biz First for X amount of money. This is lessening the strength of the elite status.
    I think that is big news.

  5. This is huge news to regular AA flyers! Actually knowing when boarding has started will greatly improve my experience, hopefully it works!

  6. If you are flying in/out of a big hub or even a big city like NYC (if its an AA hub is debatable, I know) the congregation of people to queue into their zone lines is huge and starts well before boarding calls start. If you need overhead space this feature is useless. If you do not need overhead space its a nice little perk.

  7. Great … but, often when AA is late especially rolling delays once boarding starts they are in hurry up mode. Since push notifications start when first BP scanned don’t be far away! I hope they fix the underlying problems and notification

  8. This actually started a couple weeks ago, unless I was unknowingly part of some pilot program. Flew on 10/3 and received the alerts described by Ben above. But regardless, great development.

  9. All the great technology doesn’t make up for their last-place-in-the-industry customer service! I am currently sitting in MSY because they are unapologetically terrible at their jobs.

  10. Except it wouldn’t have helped on my last AA flight which was on a rolling delay then boarded First Class before unloading and going back on a floating delay for another hour. Luckily I don’t live in a hub city so I can choose which airline pisses me off this week.

  11. God. Please tell me there is a way to turn this off. Don’t want / don’t need.

    Can see where it would be useful to people – but I don’t need it, just want to be able to disable it. Information overload.

  12. This is a great development.

    I once missed a flight while sitting in an airline lounge that didn’t announce flights because I misread the departure time as the boarding time.

    And it was early morning before the bar opened and the first connection. Thought I had 2 hours but the first flight was late … etc.

    This would have saved my bacon.

  13. Hahaha i really just spit my drink. Hahaha.
    “Go to the gate now” arrives to find they are boarding Zone 8 or the flight is delayed. No other option

  14. @Frank has hit on a point. AA’s passive-aggressive boarding practices will create false positives with this feature. It’s not uncommon for boarding to “begin” and then halt, perhaps for a long time. Scan one boarding pass, then everyone’s notified?

    I’d be reticent to sit in the lounge, well past the “boarding time” on my BP, waiting for the “push” notification. Then again, these days, I’m reticent to fly American.

  15. And Delta has been doing this for quite some time. This really isn’t news other than the fact that American finally caught up with the other airlines.

  16. @Robert

    I do have issue when DL doesn’t alert all the time, and did alert once for a flight I cancelled months earlier.

    No system is perfect, but most of all if AA is actually truthful about time (15 mins delay is 15 mins not 15+15+15 until 3 hours then cancel).

  17. I had 2 flights on AA today. No notification for the first flight but I did get one for the second flight…about 2 minutes after I boarded. Seems they still have a few kinks to work out but glad this functionality is finally here.

  18. Just flew on American, third person to board, and half way down the jet bridge got the alert on my Apple Watch.

  19. My husband and I had a very unpleasant experience with AA two weeks ago. Flying from QBC to Ohare only b/c it’s the only way to connect to our home in LAX. O’Hare is absolutely the worst airport for the elderly ( like us over 85) to make connections. We had requested wheelchairs but they never arrived. Navigating that airport is like going to the Mall. Nobody can give proper directions. We had two hours to connect to our LA flight and it’s a good thing that the plane was late to go to LAX or we never would have made it. Hopefully we never have this horrible experience again.

  20. Seriously “Jr”?

    I take 75-100 flights a year – all without boarding notifications being pushed to me. And I’ve never once missed a flight. Think I’ll manage just fine. As I said don’t want / don’t need.

    But other notifications – such as flight delay or cancellations – are useful to me, so I don’t want to turn off all AA app notifications.

    So…anyone have an actual answer to the question?

  21. Can confirm notification goes out after 5 boarding passes are scanned.. all 4 of my recent flights including JFK

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