How To Board Early: Understanding United Boarding Groups

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How to board early: understanding United boarding groups

How To Board Early: Understanding United Boarding Groups

Understanding United boarding groups can help you know who boards when. Knowing that can help you understand how to move up in the boarding order when travel becomes normal again. People want to know how to board early for numerous reasons. Today, we’ll look at the United boarding groups and how to move yourself up into an earlier boarding group.

United Boarding Groups & Boarding Order

United tells us its boarding groups and boarding order here. Let’s look at the United boarding groups for who boards when, remembering that those with disabilities will board before anyone on this list.

  1. Active duty U.S. military
  2. United Global Services members
  3. Families traveling with children age 2 and younger
  4. Premier 1K members
  5. United Premier Platinum members
  6. Premier Gold members
  7. Star Alliance Gold members
  8. Customers seated in premium cabins: United Polaris, United First and United Business
  9. Premier Silver members & Star Alliance Silver members
  10. Customers who have purchased Premier Access or Priority Boarding
  11. United Explorer, Club, Presidential Plus, and Awards Cardmembers
  12. Economy Plus
  13. United Economy
  14. Basic Economy

There it is. That’s how we are getting on the plane with United. Depending on things like airline elite status, what cabin you’re traveling in, and if you paid for early boarding, you can move up in the line. Let’s see how we can move up in the line of United boarding groups.

How To Get Priority Boarding With United Airlines

Want to move up in the line and board earlier? If so, there are several approaches. We’ll work our way through the United boarding groups and see how to move up in the boarding order.

Be Active Duty Military

If you really want to be the first one to board, sign a contract with Uncle Sam. Active duty military are number 1 on our list. Delta will let you board first in the process by showing your CAC and/or orders with your ticket. If you’re military, make sure to check out our articles about special perks from American Express and banks that waive fees for military members & their families. No one will join the military just for this perk, so let’s continue.

Earn Elite Status

Next on our list, we see people with elite status. United’s elite status program is Premier, and it has several levels. From highest to lowest, it’s 1K, Platinum, Gold & Silver. As a member of Star Alliance, they also recognize elite status from other members, as long as it’s Gold or Silver.

Starting from the top, number 2 on our list is United Global Services members. What is it? If you’re asking, you aren’t in it. It’s United’s invitation-only, unpublished elite status. Despite Google searches a-plenty, finding out what perks it offers and how to join remains internal to United. Let’s assume we aren’t getting invited and look at other status levels.

The remaining levels of United’s Premier program board in numbers 4, 5, 6 & 9. Star Alliance Gold boards in number 7. To achieve status, you’ll need to understand the requirements for 2020. If you’re looking for guides on status runs, Ian has one here. If you’re lazy or don’t see the value in it, then let’s keep moving down.

Travel With A Small Child

Don’t have a kid just for this, but it’s nice to know that you can board 3rd. Additionally, a lap infant will fly free on domestic United flights, so get those flights in before the 2nd birthday. United’s policies on children’s seats are here.

Fly In A Higher Fare Class

8th on our list, we see United’s business class products: Polaris, United First (domestic first class) & United Business. If you want to get priority boarding with United Airlines, this is a good option. Without the effort needed to qualify for elite status each year, book a higher fare class. Look for points breaks and deals on flights in business class. This boarding group is obtainable with points & miles, rather than shelling out for it. United co-branded credit cardholders can also take advantage of reduced mileage fares and award fares not visible to other people.

Pay For It

Number 10 on the list of United boarding groups is people who paid for more space & earlier boarding access. If you pay for more space (think bulkhead seats & exit rows), that will move you up on the list.

United’s Premier Access offers more than just earlier boarding. You also get priority check-in access and priority security screening lines at some airports. Priority Boarding is exactly what it sounds like: board a little earlier, but nothing else is included. Both start at $15 and go up, charged per segment of your booking.

Get A Credit Card

Coming in at number 11 is anyone with a United credit card, except the United TravelBank card. By having a United credit card, you’ll board before all the different types of economy bookings. United has multiple credit cards which offer early boarding benefits:

Personal Credit Cards
  • Chase United Explorer Mileage Plus Card
    • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
    • $95 Annual Fee, waived first year
    • Learn More
  • Chase United Club Infinite Card
    • Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
    • $450 Annual Fee
    • Complimentary Premier Access boarding
    • Learn More
  • United Business Card
    • Earn 60,000 miles after Spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
    • $99 annual fee is waived the first year

Final Thoughts

This is how the United boarding groups work and how to get priority boarding with United Airlines. We looked at the order of boarding and how to move ourselves further up in the line. Having one of their United Airlines co-branded credit cards (learn more) is not only a good way to get priority boarding but also free checked bags on domestic flights. Status and class of travel are other ways to move up quite high on the list. Being in the military or traveling with infants are other options that can move you up pretty far on the list. If you’re really desperate to move up on the list, there are also options to pay for it. Have a great trip!

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. Other than getting to sit on the airplane for a longer amount of time, why do people want to board the airplane early? I understand with some airlines you want to get space in the overhead bin, but ever since united started restricting basic economy from carry ons, I have never seen a problem finding overhead space.

    • I don’t try to board early, either, but I’ve realized I’m not the norm. Many people want to get on as early as possible for various reasons.

  2. This is just not right in so many points.
    1) The boarding group 1 and 2 are clustered within each group, so they don’t prioritize, as an example, your group number 5-8 differently from each other within the group.

    • We tried it the way you suggested (big groups with lots of items) and people complained. The info isn’t “wrong” just made easier to read after feedback on a previous post.

  3. No offense but this mostly irrelevant right now given that currently United boards by row numbers starting from the back. If I remember correctly active military and GS can board first but the rest is by row number.


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