American Airlines Boarding Procedures


I have the dubious distinction of being a frequent flier now. A distinction, because it means I get to fly to a lot of interesting places and see a lot of interesting people. Dubious, because it would be even better if I got to fly in business class instead of on the cheapest tickets I can find.

This being the case, I’m familiar with boarding procedures which see me following the first class, business class and club member fliers. American Airlines, however, have done something new with this. Instead of having the unwashed masses board via seat number, they’ve split us up into numbered groups, from 1 to 6.

On the whole, this is a good idea since there are always people who cannot cope with the concept of reading their seat number and correlating it with what they hear over the PA. However, it’s ended up with me always being assigned to group 6, the last to board the plane.

I don’t know whether to feel flattered or insulted by this. Unlike most fliers, I have no especial hatred of the boarding lounge and I don’t really know why you’d rush to board a cramped plane (unless, of course, you aren’t travelling in coach). So by this measure, I should be pleased. Even better, being in group 6 means that you are generally seated at the front of the plane and so are among the first to escape, which is certainly a good thing.

I still wonder, though, why I’m in this group, along with about 20 other bemused-looking fliers stranded in the lounge. I don’t check in particularly late or early, I don’t look particularly smart or scruffy, and I don’t always get the cheapest ticket. So what gives? How do I get assigned to this group? Is it defined by bloggers, or somewhat-frequent fliers, or what?

Of course, it could all be chance. We will discover the truth the next time I go flying.

3 Replies to “American Airlines Boarding Procedures”

  1. apparently there is some logic to this. i.e. group 1 or group 6, cant remember which sits near the emergency exits. although if my memory serves me correct on a chicago-heathrow flight they numbered it such that those sitting in the aisles were in a higher numbered group than those in the middle. not that i like AA very much anyway!

  2. I read this article when searching the web for American Airlines boarding procedure. I always seem to get into group 5 or 6 and it sometimes frustrates me. Until the liquid ban, finding a spot for your carry-on luggage was a big hassle when you board late. I am a frequent business traveller (paying higher fare) and that might be the reason?
    I hope to hear more on this.

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