Breaking Down the New American Airlines Boarding Process
March 1, 2017
Not only is March 1 the unofficial start of Spring, this year it also marks the roll-out of American Airlines' new boarding process.
This is sure to cause a lot of confusion, especially for Elites no longer hearing their coveted status name announced.
First I will give the new order, then I will break down what I view as the pros and cons.
Preboarding - Concierge Key
Group 1 - First Class (Biz Class on 2-class international)
Group 2 - Executive Platinum/oneworld Emerald (Biz Class)
Group 3 - Platinum Pro/Platinum/oneworld Sapphire
Group 4 - Gold/oneworld Ruby/Alaska MVP/Airpass/Prem. Economy/Citi
AAdvantage Executive Cardholders
Group 5 (Preferred Boarding) - Main Cabin Extra/AAdvantage Credit Cardmembers/Eligible Corporate Travelers
Group 9 - Basic Economy (This group matters so little to the airline that you're lucky if they even bother calling you)
What it means
Unless you have status, you will most likely be in groups 6-9. THIS IS NOT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE!
The order doesn't necessarily change, but it does give a little more value to AA credit cards. If you have the Citi Prestige Card and are worried about what to do when you no longer get Admirals Club access, this is even more reason to get the Citi Executive card come July.
Why they did it
I definitely think the boarding process was getting too complex with the 4,832 different status levels (all numbers approximate) so this should in theory make it easier for the gate agents and also for infrequent travelers to understand where they are in the process.
Why it is bad
This is not going to be a welcome change for high-status travelers that like to receive glowing recognition at all times for their loyalty. I am a believer in this as well, and I don't believe it's ever a good idea to take away an opportunity to recognize someone's status.
This is hardly a groundbreaking change to the process, but all changes bring some level of confusion to the process, so be prepared with your number!