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 we make money.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!
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.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAPPLY NOW
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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! :)