Airline Boarding Groups: The Master List (Updated June 2023)

by joeheg

When you check in for a flight, either by printing a boarding pass on your computer or by using a mobile device, you’re provided with a boarding group. This lets you know when you’ll be getting on the plane. Getting group 3 on one airline might be great but could be terrible for another airline.

Regardless of that number, know you’re not getting on the plane when the boarding process starts unless you’re a super-elite frequent flyer or a disabled passenger using a wheelchair. The passengers with loyalty status and ones who paid for first-class will go next. Why not stay seated until your group (or at least the one right before it is called) cause you’re gonna have a long wait to have your ticket scanned and all you’re going to do is stand on the jet bridge for a while before getting on the plane.

Just be patient and don’t be like the people in this video from JetBlue:

Listed in the order of the total number of passengers carried, here are the boarding orders for U.S. airlines.

American Airlines 


By Piergiuliano Chesi [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Customers who need special assistance and families with children under 2 can ask to board early at the gate.

  • ConciergeKey members
  • Group 1
    • First
    • Active duty U.S. Military with military I.D.
    • Executive Platinum
    • (Business on a 2-class international plane)
  • Group 2
    • Platinum Pro
    • oneworld Emerald
    • (Business on a 3-class plane)
  • Group 3
    • Platinum
    • oneworld Sapphire
  • Group 4
    • Gold
    • oneworld Ruby
    • AirPass
    • Premium Economy
    • Citi/AAdvantage Executive cardmembers
    • Travelers who bought Priority boarding
    • Eligible corporate travelers
  • Group 5 (Preferred Boarding)
    • Main Cabin Extra (excluding Basic Economy)
    • AAdvantage® members who earn 15,000 Loyalty Points
    • Eligible AAdvantage credit cardmembers
  • Group 6
    • AAdvantage members
  • Group 7
  • Group 8
    • Basic Economy to/from Europe & South America
  • Group 9
    • Basic Economy within the U.S. Canada, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean

Delta Airlines

  • Pre-Boarding
    • Customers needing assistance or additional time to board
    • Active duty U.S. Military with military I.D.
  • Delta One
    • Delta One customers
    • First Class customers
  • Diamond Medallion members
  • Delta Premium Select
  • Early boarding for customers traveling with car seats or strollers
  • Delta Comfort+
  • Sky Priority
    • Platinum Medallion members
    • Gold Medallion members
    • Flying Blue Platinum and Gold members
    • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members
    • SkyTeam Elite Plus members
    • LATAM Pass Black Signature, Black and Platinum Elite
    • WestJet Rewards Platinum and Gold Elite
  • Main Cabin 1
    • Silver Medallion Members
    • Delta Corporate Travelers
    • Gold, Platinum and Reserve Delta SkyMiles credit card members
    • Flying Blue Silver members
    • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Silver members
    • SkyTeam Elite
    • SkyMiles Select Members
    • LATAM Pass Gold+ Elite
    • WestJet Rewards Silver Elite
  • Main Cabin 2
    • Main Cabin Passengers
  • Main Cabin 3
    • Main Cabin Passengers booked in T, X and V fares
  • Basic Economy
    • Basic Economy Passengers (E)


There are only a few extra things they didn’t mention in the video:

  • Boarding positions A1-A15 are reserved for those paying Business Select fares. You can also pay from $30 to $80 for one of those spots at the gate if there are any left. Cardholders of the Southwest Priority Card can have their upgrade fee reimbursed four times a year.
  • Southwest A-List Members are assigned a check-in position 36 hours in advance.
  • For other passengers, your boarding position is based on when you check in. If you want a better place in line, you have to pay for Early Bird.
  • If an A-list member purchases or changes a ticket less than 36 hours before a flight and receives Boarding Group B or C, they can board the plane between the A and B boarding groups.
  • Children aged six or younger and ONE guardian may board between the A and B boarding groups.


  • Pre-boarding
    • Unaccompanied minors
    • Customers with disabilities
    • Active members of the military
    • United Global Services members
    • Families traveling with children age 2 and younger
    • Premier 1K members
  • Group 1
    • Premier Platinum members
    • Premier Gold members
    • Star Alliance Gold members
    • Customers seated in premium cabins: United Polaris, United First and United Business
  • Group 2
    • Premier Silver members
    • Star Alliance Silver members
    • Customers who have purchased Premier Access® or Priority Boarding
    • United Explorer, Club, Presidential Plus and Awards Cardmembers
  • Group 3-5
    • Economy Plus
    • United Economy
    • Basic Economy

Customers who purchased a Basic Economy ticket will be in the last boarding group, except for those who are Premier members, Chase Cardmembers of qualifying cards and Star Alliance Gold members, who will still receive their priority boarding.


Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 9.01.05 PM

  • Preboarding
    • Guests with disabilities who need help or a little more time to board
    • Families with children under the age of 2
    • Active Members of the military
  • Priority Boarding
    • Guests seated in First Class
    • MVP Gold 100K
  • Group A
    • Mileage Plan Million Miler, MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold members
  • Group B
    • Mileage Plan MVP members
    • Guests in Premium Class seats
  • Group C
    • Eligible Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® and Business cardholders who book their flight with the Alaska card
    • Group D
    • Guests in Main seats located in the back half of the aircraft
  • Group E
    • Guests in Main seats located in the front half of the aircraft
  • Group F
    • Guests in Saver Seats
  • Pre-Boarding
    • Customers with disabilities
  • Mosaic and Mint customers
  • Group A
    • Even More Space Customers
  • Courtesy boarding
    • Active military personnel
    • Customers traveling with small children in car seats and strollers
  • Group B
  • Group C
  • Group D
  • Group E
  • Group F
  • All remaining customers


I can’t find anything on the Spirit website about the boarding process. This is the most up-to-date information I can find.

  • Pre-Boarding
    • Passengers needing extra time to board
  • First Group
    • Passengers who have paid for a carry-on bag
    • Passengers in the “Big Front Seat” section
  • Second Group
    • Holders of the Spirit MasterCard
    • Free Spirit Silver or Gold members
    • Passengers who buy “Shortcut Boarding”
    • Active Military Members
  • Third Group
    • Passengers sitting in rows at the rear of the plane
  • Fourth Group
    • Passengers sitting in rows towards the front of the plane


  • Special Services
    • Anyone needing a wheelchair or other boarding assistance
    • Unaccompanied minors
  • Zone 1 Boarding
    • Elite myFrontier Miles members
    • Purchase the WORKS package
  • Board First
    • Purchase a carry-on bag
  • Courtesy Boarding
    • Families traveling with small children under 3 and any other passenger requiring special assistance.
  • Everyone else


  • Pre-boarding
    • Guests needing assistance
    • Unaccompanied minors
  • Premium Cabin
    • First Class
    • Business Class
  • Zone 1
    • Pualani Platinum Members
  • Zone 2
    • Pualani Gold Members
    • Premier Club Members
  • Early Boarding
    • Families with children under 2
    • Active duty military personnel
  • Zone 3
    • Extra Comfort seats
  • Zones 4 and 5
    • Main Cabin seats
  • Zone 6
    • Main Cabin Basic seats

Pualani Platinum, Pualani Gold and Premier Club members may be joined in the boarding line by two guests.

If your boarding pass does not have a boarding group, you can board with zone 4.

Final Thoughts

So there it is, the order in which the U.S. airlines board their planes. That is, until one of the airlines changes their process next week. If one thing is sure, some airlines will decide that THEY have figured out the best way to load a plane the quickest.

In my experience, airlines that don’t charge excessive fees for bags, like Southwest, or the ones who charge for all bags, like Spirit and Frontier, have the quickest boarding times. If the airline is checking every carry on bag at the gate to see if it’s the correct size (HI THERE, AMERICAN!!!!), it’s going to take a long time to get on the plane.

No matter what you do, please don’t stand up and block the path to the plane as soon as the boarding starts. We have a name for you, and it’s not a nice one.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

Featured Image courtesy Grant Wickes


amy October 31, 2018 - 2:47 pm

Where’s Hawaiian airlines?

joeheg October 31, 2018 - 9:13 pm

I didn’t include them because of their limited route map. Since I called the article a “master list”, I went and added them.

Mark S Rubacky November 7, 2018 - 1:55 pm

One additional comment on Southwest. A-List members can also board between A and B if they did not get a A boarding pass. For example I booked a Southwest flight 3 hrs before it left and got a C boarding position but was able to go after the As since I was A-List.

joeheg November 8, 2018 - 1:59 pm

Thank’s Mark. That’s not something they actively publish on the Southwest website. I’ve updated the article accordingly.

TP October 18, 2019 - 6:39 pm

Actually, Southwest has 4 boarding groups. Before group A is the special needs group where everyone and their dog boards including all family members boarding with grandma who seems to be able to walk off the plane just fine. I’m A list preferred and am often at least the 30th person to board the plane. There isn’t the benefit of being among the first to board anymore.

The abuse is rampant and nothing is done about it.

I love southwest, but it’s gotten out of control.

singaporeboomer October 19, 2019 - 7:12 am

JetBlue has the miracle flight to and from PBI. and NYC. At least half the flight is passengers that are in wheelchairs with their “comfort” dogs (no dog charge, best seats,and early access to overhead)when pre boarding and somehow inflight they are cured, running first off the flight and being first at baggage claim. It’s disgusting.

DaninMCI June 1, 2021 - 4:36 pm

AA Group 6 also includes Non-Revs, employees (when not in premium cabins). Group 6 is suppose to also include all AAdvantage members, even those in basic economy I’ve been told but never plan to find out.

Nice lists by the way.

joeheg June 1, 2021 - 11:11 pm

They don’t publish the rules for non-rev passengers on the websites 🙂

Ed Erris June 28, 2021 - 2:20 pm

I have main cabin 1 boarding on Delta (platinum credit card). Unless I missed it: I recently flew on Delta and when boarding started and after the premium passengers were called they started boarding from the back of the plane. Did I miss them calling main cabin 1? I don’t know. If I didn’t how would I exercise my main cabin 1 privilege’s if my seat is not at the back of the plane? Any ideas? Thanks.

ramcm7 June 15, 2022 - 3:58 pm

Thanks. A few more changes over the past couple years. With Alaska now part of One World, where do OW levels board on AS? Likewise, how about AA and B6 reciprocity?


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