Not Flying First Class? You Could Still Board First

Fancy some VIP treatment without the VIP price tag? Priority boarding is a small luxury that can get your vacation started a little earlier, and enable you to board the aircraft without the bustle of a large mob of fellow travelers. Of course, if you’re flying first class, boarding first comes with the territory. But for those times you need to fly coach, here are ten ways to secure priority boarding, ensuring that you get your journey off to a VIP, stress-free start!

boarding an airplane

1. Get the right credit card

There are a number of credit cards that can offer a host of benefits to the frequent flyer. One of our favorite benefits is of course, priority boarding. American Airlines offer priority boarding to those who hold a Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage Visa Signature Card or a Citi Executive/AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard. In addition, you’ll also get your first bag checked in for free.

2. Check in online

More and more passengers are choosing to check in online, mostly to save time at the airport. What many of these passengers may not know is that some airlines offer priority boarding to those who have checked in online. Airlines such as U.S. Airways prioritize those who check in online over those who check in at the airport.

3. Travel in uniform

If you’re a member of the military, consider traveling in uniform. Delta Airlines has received wide praise for their approach to military passengers. Uniformed members are invited to board with first class and elite passengers. In addition, service members are allowed four free bags when traveling in economy. And on most flights, pilots and flight attendants recognize military personnel with a round of applause.

4. Sign up for “silent boarding”

Jetblue offers a service called “silent boarding,” where passengers can board before the announced boarding starts. This service is aimed primarily at passengers with disabilities, or those who need a little extra time to board. If your child has autism and or sensory issues, this could make the boarding process that much smoother.

5. Book a seat at the back of the plane

While at first, the thought of booking seats at the rear of an aircraft doesn’t seem very VIP, the reality is that the majority of airlines actually board their planes back to front. These airlines include Air Canada, Alaska, American, Delta, British, Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit and Virgin Atlantic. Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to United, which operates an outside-in boarding style, and also Southwest and U.S. Airways, who apply a random approach to boarding.

6. Buy a premium economy seat

More and more airlines are providing the option to fly premium economy. This is a step up from coach, offering more leg room, better food and beverage options, and sometimes even a dedicated check-in and bag drop. Almost always, premium economy passengers are also able to board before the rest of the aircraft.

7. Purchase priority boarding

An increasing number of airlines are now charging a small fee for those passengers who want to beat the lines and board first. It’s certainly worth checking whether your carrier offers this service, as the fees are usually very small, allowing for a little first class treatment without the first class ticket fee.

8. Take the kids

Some airlines allow those traveling with children to board first. Alaska Airlines pre-boards families with children under the age of 2, while Virgin America pre-boards families with children aged 5 and under. Southwest Airlines allows children aged 4 and under to have priority boarding, and Frontier allow those with children aged 3 and under to proceed with their “courtesy boarding group.” JetBlue allows priority boarding for those traveling with children aged 2 and under. Despite American Airlines and Delta not advertising pre-boarding for families, it is certainly worth asking the agent at the gate. It’s worth keeping in mind that this tip may not work if traveling with United.

9. Become a frequent flyer

Of course, the best way to guarantee that you get to board first is to have elite status with the airline’s frequent flyer program. Most flights will allow first-class, business-class, and passengers with elite status to board before everyone else.

10. Call the airline and ask!

In a world where people do everything through digital means, the idea of actually picking up the phone and talking to someone sounds almost ludicrous! We promise you though, the humble telephone may just get you that priority boarding you’re looking for. Call the airline’s customer service number and simply ask about the order of boarding on the flight you have booked. Of course, you are more likely to have some success if you are traveling with children or the elderly, or a member of your party has an ailment that could be impeded by late or delayed boarding. If at first you don’t succeed, call again! It’s definitely worth a try. If you don’t particularly make progress with the first agent you speak to, call back.

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