American Airlines Changes Executive Platinum Boarding Priority

American Airlines made a couple of updates to their boarding process as of yesterday, March 31, 2014.

Under the old boarding process, American boarded in the following order:

  • First class, uniformed military, and Executive Platinum members
  • Platinum and Gold members
  • Priority Access passengers
  • Passengers without overhead luggage
  • Boarding groups 2-4

American-Boarding-Priority-New

However, under their new boarding process, American is no longer boarding Executive Platinum members with first class. Instead they’re boarding in the following order:

  • First class and uniformed military
  • Executive Platinum and Platinum members
  • Gold members
  • Priority Access passengers
  • Boarding groups 2-4

So not only do Executive Platinum members no longer board with first class, but it seems American also eliminated the boarding group for those without overhead luggage. They introduced this last year, so I guess it wasn’t proving all that beneficial for them.

American-Boarding-Priority-Old

What’s interesting is that they’re not actually adopting US Airways’ boarding process, as US Airways boards all elite members and first class at once. Their boarding process is as follows:

PreferredAccess

  • First/Business Class
  • Dividend Miles Preferred
  • American Airlines AAdvantage elite
  • oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members

Zone 1

  • Bulkhead seats
  • Exit row seats (without under-the-seat storage)
Zone 2

  • US Airways Premier World Mastercard® holders
  • US Airways® Visa Signature® card holders
  • ChoiceSeats
  • Exit row seats (with under-the-seat storage)

Zones 3 – 5

  • We board zones 3-5 back to front!

So color me puzzled. I found American was always amazing about taking care of top tier elite members, so I’m kind of surprised they would make this change, especially since it’s not like they’re “aligning” processes yet. With American, Executive Platinum members are the only elites to get unlimited complimentary domestic upgrades, so it was nice to at least be able to board with first class for the few times upgrades didn’t clear.

On the plus side, American still takes great care of Executive Platinum members seated in the main cabin — you receive a free snack and drink, which takes quite a bit of the sting out of an upgrade not clearing.

Comments

  1. Lucky — I’m not sure if I’m misunderstanding, but I’ve never had US mix elite and first class. They call first class first, then usually chairman (and now explat) and then other elite. Sometimes if boarding needs to be rushed, they call all elite at the same time.

  2. Although US had one preferred access group, in practice, they typically board first class separately from the rest of the cabin.

    I personally like that as it avoids a hoard of people boarding at once. You typically have some preboards before in wheelchairs. Board too many people too quickly and you end up with passengers trying to push the wheelchair passengers down. With first class first, you have time and space for the wheelchair passenger to get settled down, plus hopefully a short break for the FA to start PDB.

    But placing EXP and Plat in the same group seems odd. I was hoping for a slight break in between.

  3. Recently, US has been pretty consistently boarding first class separately from elites. And, amazingly enough, I’ve seen agents actually enforcing it at the door. I’m pretty much always in first as a Chairman’s Preferred, and this is a much appreciated contribution to my sanity . . .

  4. Anything is better than madness at delta. Delta boards all elite at once. Friday evening or monday morning at a hub airport 99% of people are elite causing mad pushing showing at gate. 100-150 people trying to get in line. Right

  5. Lucky, I’ve been a US elite for the last five years, and never once have they boarded F with other elites. It’s always F and uniformed military first, then other elites.

    I guess the AA change is a big yawn to me. If you’re an EXP who’s not flying in F, you’re still going to be the first coach passenger on the plane, just like it is today. Only now, you’re going to get to sit in your seat about two less minutes, which in my book is a good thing!

  6. @Mike, No. I never got anything as an EXP sitting in coach. I often see it mentioned in blogs, but I never experienced it myself. Should one expect it on AA and American Eagle?

  7. @ ABC — If they didn’t offer proactively I suggest just ordering something and if they ask for you to pay tell them you’re an Executive Platinum member.

  8. US changed their boarding process last week. GA’s at 3 airports across 5 flights last week all read the same new order.

    Pre-board needing assistance – First & military in uniform – CP, Plat, Gold, OW Emerald & Sapphire – Silver & OW Ruby – then by zone.

    Appears they used the switch to One World as an opportunity to align with AA

  9. Not sure what the big deal is — other than eliminating the non-baggage boarding which itself was only introduced a few months ago. Most ExecPlats will be upgraded to F (or booked into F and that far or a Yup fare) domestically so still board in the first group. Otherwise, as noted, they’re still in the first coach group to board. As an ExecPlat I don’t feel overly slighted by the change.

    At least AA hasn’t downgraded ExecPlats the way UA did when it gave uber-priority boarding to its Global Services members, then F, then C and 1Ks.

  10. Uniformed military. That’s an interesting one that you don’t typically see on most airlines’s boarding process. Is AA the preferred airline of the US military?

  11. Amused that they have had to change from priority boarding for “uniformed military” to “uniformed U.S. military”. Have a surreal vision of North Korean Generals trying to use priority boarding.

  12. Still sounds better than the chaos BA have – all elites, from Gold to Bronze (OW Emerald to Ruby) plus business and first are all eligible to join the priority boarding line. Which the majority of the time they start board from at the same time as the general line – so on elite heavy flights you can be quicker standing in the general queue! Total shambles, made worse with the increase in hand baggage only fares.

  13. I am happy with either program as an EXP if they would follow it. About 75% of my flights so far this year, they have not “policed” the boarding and only had one boarding lane open. I have had Group 1 and 2’s board in front of me even thought I started heading to the line in advance of calling EXPs. When they are only one line open, it is hard to get to the front and people just glare at you…very annoying. My upgrade percentage is only 60% this year…it was 80% last year, so early boarding is more important to me this year.

  14. Well it matters to me. As an EXP, my upgrade % has not been that high this year, so it makes a difference. I am on typical business flights (Monday morning, Thursday early evening) where there are dozens of EXPs and Plats in coach, all sitting in the front Main Cabin Extra area. When EXPs board with Plats, there have been times when the Main Cabin Extra area runs out of luggage room, meaning you have to store your carry-on 5 rows back. It’s a seemingly minor inconvenience but actually a big annoyance to have to wait after you land to swim upstream to get your luggage.

    Come on AA, throw us a bone – what’s the cost to you to just announce Platinums AFTER EXPs? It’s no cost to AA but a major annoyance to their most loyal customers. We already missed the upgrade by a lot, now you want to rub salt in the wound?

    I’m puzzled just like Ben. AA, why not take the opportunity to differentiate the flying experience for your best customers? Now the only in-person airport/flying difference for an EXP from a Plat is that we get an extra snack (which can be a measly brownie or nut mix on flights shorter than 3 hours).

  15. The issue is NOT that an execplat doesn’t get to board 2 mins earlier withe 1st class, it’s that boarding with ALL the platinum a means there is a huge crowd AND bag space starts to get tight. As an execplat I shouldn’t have to fight to get on and get bag space

  16. Wow, laughing out loud at some of these pretentious comments filled with entitlement. I don’t travel for work anymore except a few times a year and then vacation 4 or so times, so am not elite at all. I always fly first though whether for business or pleasure and just choose whoever the cheapest airline is, the cost is worth it to me. Anyway, I’ve noticed the chaos the past few years though increasing. FIRST is always FIRST, but you have 10-20 guys in power suits crowding the boarding line, anxiously pacing, grunting, and blocking the first class and other passengers from the jet way. Jabbing away on cellphones, running other people over. I’m incredibly glad I don’t have to deal with this anymore on a weekly basis. Get over yourselves. Even when I was one of you, I didn’t act like one.

  17. My husband and I are currently having heated email discussions with AA Customer Support over their advertised “privileges” that are supposed to come with the AADVANTAGE Platinum Select Card, versus the reality of trying to use those benefits. The card (which AA is hawking relentlessly on its flights and airport areas) clearly states that having the card entitles the cardholder to “Group 1 Boarding Privileges” and “First Bag Checked Free”. During a recent trip east for Christmas 2015, we were not able to board with Group 1 on any flight, nor were we able to get our first bag checked for free. We tried checking in first using a kiosk, and then going through a human rep at the check in counter. Neither method got us the supposed privileges. Both times we were told that the gate agent would let us in with Group 1 (our boarding passes were issued with Group 3 on our first attempt, Group 4 on the second). And even though, on our second attempt to invoke the boarding and bag check privilege, I had the name of an AA desk manager (with phone extension) to offer in case we were denied Group 1 boarding, the gate agents still told us we weren’t able to board with Group 1. (The gate agents told us we’d have to board with Group 2). Normally we fly Business or First Class, but on this trip (over Christmas) those sections were full, so it was our first time using the card to invoke the so-called privileges. Not only were those privileges not forthcoming, but the experience of arguing and being turned away by the gate agents was unpleasant in the extreme. I can’t fathom how AA continues selling its AAdvantagePlatinum Select Cards on the basis of promises that are not kept in practice. Going forward, not only will we not be eager to fly AA using its credit card, but we will now also avoid it whenever possible for future Business and First Class travel. I realize it seems somewhat petty to complain about group boarding matters, but these particular flights were so crowded that boarding with an earlier group meant a difference in terms of whether or not one ended up struggling to find space overhead for carry Ons. I was told that the Group 1 boarding privilege and free bag check was supposed to be invoked automatically when we used the card at checkin. In our case, it did not work, and AA Customer Service couldn’t seem to care less. Evidently they’re too busy hawking AAdvantage Platinum Select cards to notice that the benefits aren’t working as advertised.

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