Airlines with priority boarding

Board your plane early and settle your bags in the overhead bin.

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Priority boarding is a cool airline perk designed to reward frequent flyers and those who fly in premium cabins and higher seat class. For these groups, priority boarding is complimentary. Others may either purchase priority boarding or purchase the airfare with eligible airline credit cards and get priority boarding as a reward.

What is priority boarding?

Priority boarding is the process at which certain customers can board the plane before others. This can give you enough time to settle your bags in the overhead bin and relax before takeoff.

How can I get priority boarding?

  • Earn elite status.
    Frequent flyers who have earned elite status with an airline often have the benefit to board early. Some airlines let elite status members of partner airlines use this perk.
  • Purchase higher class ticket.
    Passengers in the premium cabins and on first or business class usually get to board first.
  • Get an eligible credit card.
    Some airline cobranded credit cards come with priority boarding for the main cardholder and passengers traveling on their reservation. If you travel often, this perk can save you time and money.
  • Purchase priority boarding.
    Most airlines let you buy priority boarding. However, this is typically tied to a single flight and if you change it, you lose this perk. Also, the price varies depending on your itinerary.

Our pick for a card with priority boarding

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 17.49% - 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
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Compare credit cards that offer priority boarding

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months
2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and restaurants and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
60,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus 10,000 miles after your first anniversary
2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 60,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, plus 10,000 miles after your first anniversary. Rates & fees
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United℠ Explorer Card
60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rentals and 1x points on all other purchases
$149
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

Who’s eligible for priority boarding?

Most airlines offer priority boarding to specific customers without paying a fee, including:

  • US military personnel with an ID.
  • Passengers who need assistance to board.
  • Families with children of age two or younger.
  • Customers traveling with strollers or car seats.
  • Unaccompanied minors.

How to use priority boarding

Some airlines will include priority check-in and security along with priority boarding. This can help you reach the gate faster.

Once there, check your boarding pass to see which boarding group you’re in. Wait until the announcer calls your group to board. Some airline mobile apps offer push notifications to let you know when boarding starts.

Bottom line

Elite status members and passengers traveling in premium cabins enjoy priority boarding. Eligible airline credit card owners also get this perk while everyone else has to purchase it.

If you like to get priority boarding without paying for it, consider an airline credit card.

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