Clever Tips To Be In One Of The First Boarding Groups On American Airlines Flights

If you're hoping to fit your luggage onto your next American Airlines flight, you're probably wondering how you can get bumped up the boarding order to get onto your flight first. While some have complained that American Airlines doesn't enforce its boarding groups particularly strictly, they do have a clearly delineated boarding order with nine groups. If you're hoping to board earlier in the schedule, you might have to book a premium ticket, but you might also be able to get bumped up because of what credit card you carry or a compensation for changing flights. If you happen to be on active duty in the military or want to board early because of an injury or disability, you might even be able to board first — it never hurts to check.


If you really want to be 100% certain that you can get on the plane early and get overhead bin space on your next flight, you may be able to pay a bump-up fee during check-in for priority boarding. On American Airlines, that only gets you into the fourth boarding group, however, and you may end up paying more than $70 for it. Only you can say whether or not that coveted overhead bin space is worth it to you. Fortunately, there are a few other ways to get priority boarding.

Buy a premium ticket for American's complimentary priority boarding

If you're willing to splurge on your flight but you don't think paying for priority boarding by itself is worth it, you should know that on American Airlines flights, anyone who buys a first-class ticket gets to be in boarding group one automatically. Fortunately, American Airlines is one of the airlines you should be booking with if you want to save money on first-class seats — but if the price tag is still too high, you could go for business class. Depending on the particular plane, you would either be in boarding group one or two, which essentially guarantees you access to those overhead bins and gets you a pretty nice flight experience, too.


If you don't want to shell out a huge amount of money for your flight, however, there is one more option that gives you complimentary priority boarding: Premium Economy. These tickets give you a lot of in-flight benefits, like larger seats, Wi-Fi, and free drinks, and get you into the lowest tier of priority boarding: Group four. While that won't help you speed onto the plane like a first-class ticket might, it gets you into the same boarding group as paying for priority boarding by itself, so if you're willing to pay extra, it might be a good option.

Use American's frequent flyer rewards program

While it might not be cheap or easy, like getting the EarlyBird pass — the ultimate trick for getting priority boarding on Southwest Airlines — American Airlines has rewards programs you can join for free to try to earn all kinds of perks, including, with enough spending, priority boarding. If you're a regular flyer and you like taking American Airlines flights, it might be worth it to try to rack up enough loyalty points through the program to gain elite status. If you spend enough (think around $7,600 in a year), you can reach AAdvantage Gold status, which gets you into boarding group 4, along with a whole host of other benefits. If you happen to have elite status at JetBlue or through Oneworld alliance (which includes popular airlines like Alaska Airlines, Finnair, and Japan Airlines), American Airlines will honor those and give you priority boarding as well.


If you spend even more annually through American Airlines, you might be able to get AAdvantage Platinum or Platinum Pro, which come with some major advantages like free checked bags, upgrades, and boarding in groups 2 and 3, respectively. There's even an extremely high level called ConciergeKey, which allows you to board before group one has even started lining up, but rumor has it you have to spend tens of thousands a year with American Airlines to be invited to join that level — and at that point you probably aren't too worried about getting priority boarding.

Use your American Airlines credit card

If you have a strong preference for one airline over another, getting a brand-specific credit card for extra perks and rewards might be worth it. Just like if you're trying to get priority boarding on Delta Airlines, having an American Airlines credit card can help you secure your spot in an earlier boarding group. While just having an American Airlines credit card won't get you priority boarding on the flight, it will get you into the next best thing: Preferred boarding, AKA group five.


In order to qualify for preferred boarding, you'll have to choose either the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard or the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard. If you can get approved for these cards, they can help you earn perks and miles, and come with some sign-up bonuses as well as locking in preferred boarding on all American Airlines flights.

Negotiate if you have to be bumped from your American flight

If you're a regular flyer, you probably know that if you get denied boarding on an overbooked flight, you may be entitled to compensation, but there's a lot of wiggle room on what that compensation can look like. American Airlines typically offers money to passengers who volunteer to be bumped off their flight. You can end up with offers anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000, either as airline credit or a check. However, you may be able to negotiate for perks like upgrades and priority boarding, too. If you have to miss your flight, you might as well make sure your next one is a good experience.


What if just your bags get bumped? While it's not an American Airlines policy, sometimes airlines will move you up the boarding order or even upgrade your seat if you volunteer to gate check your bags. While it's a long shot, it's a totally free strategy, and if it doesn't work and you find yourself all the way at the end of basic economy's boarding group nine, at least you don't have to worry about finding space in the overhead bins anymore.