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Guidelines on American Airlines Boarding Groups and Process

A flight’s boarding process varies from one airline carrier to another, although essentially they all do the same thing. The way the airlines carry out their operations can thus, vary significantly. For American Airlines Boarding Groups and Process, this is also true for American Airlines for Being one of the largest U.S. airline carriers. There are certain things that you need to know when flying on their flights.

In this travel guide prepared by Treknova, we will look into the various boarding groups of American Airlines and their respective process as well.

American Airlines Boarding Groups

Unlike other US-based airline carriers, American Airlines has broken down its boarding into several groups. There are a total of nine boarding groups and each one offers benefits according to the fare class or the ticket permits. These boarding groups are in fact, shown on the type of ticket that you purchase. So, depending on your ticket type, you will be seated in the designated group. Also, some groups are fortunate enough to be offered priority boarding. The same also goes for unaccompanied minors traveling on American Airlines flights.

Boarding groups is basically categorized for organizing the different fare class. Each group is individual but bundled together at the time of boarding for American Airlines in two different categories that are Priority and Non Priority. In which ticket fare class decides your boarding group.

In the following section, we will take a look at the various boarding groups in their respective order and their significance toward passengers and flight experience.

ConciergeKey® Members

This boarding group holds the highest elite status, where members are allowed to board along with passengers bearing Five Star status. Furthermore, for passengers that are adults or unaccompanied minors traveling alone that require assistance during boarding, makes your pre-boarding a lot easier.

Group 1

Passengers bearing First class and Business class (two cabins international) boarding pass types fall in the category of Group 1. Some aircraft consist of a two-cabin Business class instead of a First class, which is also considered the highest class.

In addition to First and Business class passengers, other passengers, such as U.S. military personnel on active duty can also board their flight in this group. However, they will be required to present their military ID proof.

Group 2

Passengers bearing the Executive Platinum boarding pass type, or Oneworld or Emerald elite status come in Group 2.

Also, passengers traveling in a Business class can board a 3-class plane.

Group 3

Passengers bearing the Platinum Pro boarding pass type fall in the boarding Group 3 category.

However, passengers that are members of the Platinum, Oneworld, and Sapphire elite status can also board their flights through this group.

Group 4

Passengers bearing the Gold boarding pass type are in the Group 4 category.

Also, passengers that are members of the Oneworld, Ruby, Air Pass, and Premium Economy elite status can board their flights through this group.

This group also allows boarding for passengers that have obtained Citi/AAdvantage Executive credit cards, travelers who have bought Priority boarding service, and eligible corporate travelers.

If you have an AAdvantage Executive credit card issued by Citi Bank, you are offered access to Admiral’s Club lounge and other benefits that include priority check-in, priority airport screening (depends on availability), free checked baggage, in-flight savings, and more. But, that’s not all. AAdvantage Executive cardmembers are also offered a sign-up bonus that gives you the advantage of quickly accumulating your AA miles.

Furthermore, the Group 4 category allows boarding to passengers who have also purchased Priority boarding, which usually costs around $9 to $74. If you have purchased a Basic Economy fare, you can avail of a Priority boarding service for flights that are operated and marketed by American Airlines. Priority boarding service can be purchased either online on the American Airlines website, during check-in at an airport kiosk or via reservations before your flight’s departure.

Group 5 (aka Preferred Boarding)

Passengers bearing the Main Cabin Extra (excluding Basic Economy) boarding pass type come in the boarding Group 5 category. This group is also called Preferred Boarding. The benefit of traveling in Main Cabin Extra is that you will have a little more legroom for comfort and will be served on board with complimentary alcohol.

In addition, eligible AAdvantage credit card members are also permitted to board their flights along with this group. So, if you hold an AAdvantage credit card, such as Citi Platinum Select or Aviator Red, you are eligible for preferred boarding and complimentary service, like checked baggage for you and your companion(s) when traveling on American domestic flights.

Below is a list of eligible travel credit cards that can easily get you the “Preferred Boarding” perk.

AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard

AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select American Express Card

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select Visa Signature

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Groups 6-8

Passengers bearing Basic Economy boarding pass type to/from Europe and South America come in the boarding Groups 6 to 8 categories.

These boarding groups consist of Coach Groups and Basic Economy, particularly flights operating on long-haul routes and trans-oceanic destinations.

However, one drawback that passengers may notice in these boarding groups category is the overhead bin for storing their luggage. These overhead bins may not provide you with enough storage space and also, may not align with where you are seated. In most cases, you may even have to gate-check your baggage.

Group 9

The last boarding group in this category is Group 9. Passengers bearing the Basic Economy boarding pass type fall in the category of Group 9. Here, the boarding allows passengers to travel within the U.S., Canada, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean regions.

Again, similar to the Groups 6-8 boarding category, the Group 9 category also has some drawbacks with regard to the overhead bin. Passengers may have a hard time finding the overhead bins for storing their luggage. However, in such situations, seeking assistance from flight attendants can make things easier for you.

American Airlines have made a few changes to its boarding process. The airline has added additional 15 minutes to its boarding procedure.

There is now 30 minutes of boarding time for domestic flights and 45 minutes for passengers traveling on international flights. The closing of boarding before your flight’s departure is also now 15 minutes.

Here from the given table, you can easily understand the groups with the boarding pass type

GroupsBoarding Pass Type
ConciergeKey® membersConcierge Key®
Group 1First-class passengers Active duty U.S. military with military I.D.
AAdvantage Executive Platinum®(Business on a 2-class international aircraft)
Group 2AAdvantage Platinum Pro® oneworld® Emerald℠(Business on a 3-class aircraft)
Group 3AAdvantage Platinum® oneworld® Sapphire℠
Group 4AAdvantage Gold® oneworld® Ruby℠AirPass℠ travelersPremium EconomyCiti® / AAdvantage® Executive cardmembersTravelers who bought Priority boarding Eligible corporate travelers
Group 5Main Cabin Extra (excluding Basic Economy) Eligible AAdvantage® credit card members
Group 6AAdvantage® members
Group 7Group 7
Group 8Group 8 Basic Economy to/from Europe & South America
Group 9Basic Economy within the U.S., Canada, Central America, Mexico & Caribbean

Priority Boarding

American Airlines gives the benefits to the premium range customers by categorizing their groups by their ticket class and giving benefits according to that. Basically, American Airlines split into two boarding lanes in which group 1 to group 4 through the priority lane whether group 5 to group 9 board through the main lane. Here some additional benefits are giving those who have tickets permits the board group 1-4 where they can skip the line and directly board through the main gate.

Flight Boarding Time

American Airlines has most of their flights start the boarding procedure 30 (domestic flights) to 50 (international flights) minutes prior to departure, with the exact time depending on your destination and plane type. Boarding doors will typically close 15 minutes before the flight’s departure. Once the boarding doors are closed, you will not be allowed to board, even if you arrive at the gate at the last moment.

Keep in mind that your flight’s boarding time is also shown on your boarding pass. Sometimes, gate agents get a little ahead of themselves and arrive at the gate 10 minutes prior to scheduled boarding.

When you fly on American Airlines flights, it is a good idea to spend some time in the lounge, then head for the boarding gate a few minutes earlier. Doing so can help you get through the gate agents quickly, and still be able to get on the plane with your scheduled boarding group.

Furthermore, in addition to starting the flight’s boarding procedure early, not all American Airlines gate agents may respect the boarding sequence of all nine groups. This may happen so, particularly on smaller aircraft or on flights that depart from smaller airports. You will often see gate agents simply emerging passengers of a few boarding groups.

Thus, it is important that you pay a little more attention, especially if you are onboarding Group 6. Just because you are in boarding Group 6, that does not mean there will be 5 separate groups ahead of you. In fact, it might only be just 2 or 3 groups before you.


American Airlines’ boarding process may appear to be overly detailed. But, even with a total of nine boarding groups, the boarding process is usually quite easy.

Also, that’s for sure that you will still find a lot of passengers from Groups 8 and 9 standing right in front of the boarding lines when you are trying to board the plane along with Group 3 passengers. However, this may not surprise you because a lot of such things also occur with other airline carriers.

Thus, to conclude, we can say that by holding the right credit card and paying attention to your flight’s boarding time, you will have sufficient time to get on the plane and find your seat to get settled quickly. Also, you will have overhead space for your carry-on bag.

Lastly, if you want to make changes to your flight or may want cancellations then the boarding policy may change according to the new flight scheduled and you will find that American Airlines’ boarding process is pretty standardized throughout their network around the world. This makes things easier and you will know what to expect so that you can simply start your holiday trip outright – be it solo traveling or going on a trip with one or more companions.

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