Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card issuers from which MillionMileSecrets.com receives compensation. Compensation does not impact the placement of cards on Million Mile Secrets other than in banner advertising. MillionMileSecrets.com does not include all credit card offers that might be available to consumers in the marketplace.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

How American Airlines Priority Boarding Caused Me to Board the Plane DEAD LAST

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

How American Airlines Priority Boarding Caused Me to Board the Plane DEAD LAST

Joseph HostetlerHow American Airlines Priority Boarding Caused Me to Board the Plane DEAD LASTMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

INSIDER SECRET: Many airline credit cards come with a free checked bag. Even if you’ve just got a carry-on, you can check it for no charge, and walk through the airport hands free. It’s a liberating experience.

I’ve made some pretty childish mistakes in my travel career. My crowning achievement was the time I sat waiting at my gate in Dallas, thoroughly engrossed in a Hulu show with headphones on, and looked up to realize I’d missed my flight.

I made another silly mistake last week flying American Airlines out of New York – LaGuardia. Thanks to the handy priority boarding perk that comes with my airline credit card, I was first to scan my boarding pass, but the last one on the plane. If I’d been paying any attention at all, I could have prevented this!

Few moments in life are as embarrassing as searching for space in the overhead bin. I almost had an incident when I took advantage of priority boarding on my latest American Airlines flight. (Photo by ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock)

Know When to Skip Priority Boarding (My American Airlines Example)

Lots of airlines offer their own credit cards that come with benefits for travelers who frequently fly that particular airline. One of these benefits is often priority (or preferred) boarding. It exists so you can board the plane before most passengers, and you’ll have plenty of time to find bin space for your carry-on and settle into your seat before the frenzied reprobates stampede aboard.

This is a great benefit! Most of the time.

As you well know, there are plenty of gates at plenty of airports that forego the jet bridge and shuttle you to your plane. This was the case for me last week. If you’ve got priority boarding, this turns your world upside down.

Paying no attention, I was one of the first to scan my boarding pass. I headed outside, sauntered toward the shuttle, and pretty immediately realized this was going to be a last-in-first-out situation. I walked to the back of the bus, and waited as the last Group 9 passenger squeezed aboard at the very front.

It was a bit worrisome because I had a fair-sized bag with me. I’d have checked it at the gate if I’d known I would be boarding last. The plane was small, and the flight was full.

Common-Sense Action Tips

If you know you’ll be shuttled to your plane (a quick look around your gate should be indication enough, especially if you’re on the ground floor), skip the priority boarding and scan your boarding pass dead last. You’ll be first out the shuttle, and first in the plane!

Meghan does this all the time when she travels. She’s got a toddler, and always ignores the “families with small children” boarding group if she knows she’s going to be shuttled.

And of course, if you find yourself boarding last, you can always ask the airline staff to check your carry-on, even when you’re entering the plane. Everybody’s got those bag tags.

Pro Tip: Many airline credit cards offer a free checked bag for domestic flights as a perk. I’ll occasionally check my bag, even if it’s just a carry-on, so I can walk the airport hands free (also convenient when you’re at an airport bar or restaurant).

I’d love to hear any newbie airport mistakes you’ve made during your travels! And subscribe to our newsletter for all things travel delivered to your inbox once per day.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

  • Designed for businesses
  • Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries to reduce travel costs and boost your bottom line.
  • 25% savings on American Airlines inflight Wi-Fi when you use your card
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations.
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

1comment

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Back around 2007 I think we booked a trip via Gate 1 travel and included flights and hotel in Rome. Upon arrival at Atlanta airport, we found the Delta gate, asked the clerk where we had to Check in and if we had time to go outside and smoke and they said yes, we came back in and were told that Delta was the agent only and we had to fly another airline and go to their gate which was nowhere close! We were told we missed our flight which was still over an hour and half away bc we weren’t there early enough! Fortunately they reticketed is for the next day and let us fly even though technically they could have told us no, we lost a day of our trip but learned a valuable lesson!

Citi Busines AA - Banner

AMEX Platinum  Banner

Capital One Venture Bannerr