How to get priority boarding with United Airlines

Settle in sooner and find a place for your carry-on bags.

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passengers boarding a plane

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Priority boarding on United Airlines will you get you on the plane before other passengers. Active US military members or families with children 2 years old or younger are entitled to preboarding. Otherwise, you can earn your spot in the first boarding groups with elite status, by purchasing priority boarding or by using an eligible United credit card with complimentary priority boarding.

Priority boarding order.

A certain hierarchy is laid out to determine who boards the plane first. Check out the table below to find out where you might stand in the line.

  • Unaccompanied minors
  • Customers who need assistance
  • Active members of the US military
  • United Global Services members
  • Families traveling with children 2 years old 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 Card and United Club cardmembers
Group 3 – 5
  • Economy Plus
  • United Economy
  • Basic Economy

How to get United Airlines priority boarding

You can get United priority boarding if you:

  • Purchase a higher fare class.
    Flying on United Polaris, United First and United Business classes get you Group 1 boarding.
  • Earn elite status.
    Premier 1K members get preboarding, Premier Platinum and Gold members board Group 1, and Premier Silver members board with Group 2.
  • Earn elite status with partner airlines.
    As a member of the Star Alliance, United grants priority boarding to frequent flyers on partner airlines. Once you reach elite status with a partner airline, that status converts to elite status with the alliance. Star Alliance Gold members board with Group 1, while Silver members board with Group 2.
  • Get an eligible United credit card.
    The United℠ Explorer Card and the United MileagePlus® Club card let you board with Group 2. Companions traveling on your reservation also benefit from this perk.
  • Being an active duty US military member.
    Carry your military ID to preboard your United flight.
  • Purchase United priority boarding.
    If you don’t meet any of the conditions to earn United priority boarding, you can buy one starting from $15.

Our pick for United priority boarding

United℠ Explorer Card

  • $0 first-year intro annual fee, then $95.
  • Signup bonus: 40,000 miles after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 2x miles on United purchases, hotel stays and restaurant purchases.
  • Credit every four years for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
  • 25% back as statement credit on United inflight purchases. Plus, priority boarding and your first checked bag free on United-operated flights.
  • 2 United Club one-time passes each card anniversary.
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Compare credit cards with United Airlines priority boarding

Only two United credit cards let you board with Group 2 by simply being a card member.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
40,000 miles after spending $2,000 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)
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

How to get United Airlines priority boarding with your credit card

  1. Get an eligible United Airlines credit card.
  2. Use your card to purchase United airfare and include your MileagePlus number on your reservation.
  3. You will automatically receive a Group 2 priority boarding.

Who gets priority boarding?

Entitled to preboarding are unaccompanied minors, customers who need assistance, active members of the military, families traveling with children age two and younger, and the ultimate United travelers who have earned Premier 1K elite status or are invited to the United Global Services status.

Next to board are United and Star Alliance elite tiers and customers who fly in premium cabins. Owners of eligible United credit cards and those who purchased priority boarding come next.

Bottom line

If you don’t belong in any of the groups entitled to get United priority boarding, you can either purchase one for your flight or you can get an eligible United credit card and get priority boarding on United-operated flights.

However, if you prefer a different airline, check out other airline cards that offer priority boarding and compare your options.

Frequently asked questions

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