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Understanding boarding groups at the airport (and how to improve your status) in 2024

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You’ve made it through the crazy line at security, paid way too much cash for your very average sandwich and now waiting in the not so nice general terminal section waiting to board your flight. Just when you see that the gate opens, an announcement comes over saying that only group 1 can enter the plane. You hurriedly look at your boarding pass and see you are group 9, why?

Well – as anyone who travels in the US regularly knows, getting on the plane before someone else is somewhat of a status symbol here. Yes, the tiered nature of the different boarding groups is meant to give order to the chaos, but – it also is a way for the airline to offer their VIP clients or top tier Frequent Flyer, the added benefit of boarding before us plebs.

It allows people to enter the plane earlier, but without having to necessarily have purchased a business class ticket or a first class ticket. This gives them more chance to get settled, but most importantly more room to put bags with all the free space.

How to improve your boarding group status

There are a few tips to getting yourself bumped up on the boarding groups (if you’re into that sort of thing)

  • Get yourself a Frequent Flyer account with all the major airlines (this is mostly always free)
  • Don’t ever book basic economy flights – I’ll talk about this in next week’s blog
  • Do your seating ahead of time, and select a seat closer to the front of the plane
  • Book a branded fare – Airlines just love you booking their bundled product options
  • Try to stay loyal to an airline or airline partnership, this will increase your status the more you fly, and bring you closer to the front of the plane

No matter where you sit on the plane, always remember that some people get really stressed at airports and that while you think that someone may be rude, or just totally stupid – the only remedy to certain situations, is not like that yourself.

Alternatives to boarding group upgrades

My suggestion is to pack light (or at least have checked-in yoru bags) when you travel and then you can get on last without any issue. If you don't need storage space, then you can sit comfortably in the terminal right until the last minute and jump on board when all the hustle is out of the way!

This also means you can get off quickly. It's a win-win.

Joshua Engstrom

Joshua Engstrom

I now work on Madison Avenue, in the Air Experts team for Flight Centre. We consolidate, group rate and manage the heck out of any and every kind of flight you could possibly think of. We solve problems and send off happy and sad people. We humanize what has become a very transactional process. To get in touch with Josh and ask a question, feel free to contact him via his email [email protected]View Author posts

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