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Is American Airlines Priority Worth It?

Booking a flight these days can feel like navigating an obstacle course. Between basic economy fares, checked baggage fees, and the infamous middle seat, simply getting from point A to point B requires strategy.

One amenity airlines offer to make travel less stressful is priority boarding.

But is paying extra for this perk on American Airlines really worth it?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: American Airlines priority boarding can be worth it if you’re a frequent leisure traveler who wants early access to overhead bin space and doesn’t have elite status.

It probably isn’t necessary for infrequent travelers or those who already get priority as an elite member or premium cabin passenger.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to decide if American’s priority boarding is worth the cost for your particular situation and travel habits.

We’ll look at what priority boarding includes, how much it costs, who can benefit the most, and strategies to get priority without paying extra.

What Does Priority Boarding on American Airlines Include?

Priority boarding on American Airlines offers several benefits that can enhance your travel experience.

Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect when you opt for priority boarding.

Board in early boarding group

When you have priority boarding, you will be among the first passengers to board the plane. This gives you the advantage of having extra time to settle in and get comfortable before the rest of the passengers board.

You won’t have to worry about rushing to find overhead bin space or feeling cramped in your seat.

Better chance of overhead bin space

One of the main advantages of priority boarding is the increased likelihood of finding available space in the overhead bins.

By boarding early, you have a greater chance of securing a spot for your carry-on luggage, ensuring that you won’t have to gate-check your bags or worry about them being stored far away from your seat.

Pre-board seating selection

Another perk of priority boarding is the opportunity to select your seat before the general boarding process begins.

This allows you to choose from the available seats and find the one that best suits your preferences, whether it’s a window seat for a scenic view or an aisle seat for easier access to the restroom.

Pre-board seating selection

Priority security screening (select airports)

In some airports, American Airlines offers priority security screening for passengers with priority boarding.

This can save you valuable time and help you avoid long lines at security checkpoints. It’s important to note that this benefit is only available at select airports, so be sure to check if your departure airport offers this perk.

How Much Does American Airlines Priority Boarding Cost?

American Airlines offers priority boarding as an option for passengers who want to enjoy a smoother and more convenient boarding experience.

The cost of priority boarding can vary depending on several factors.

Ranges from $15-$50 per flight segment

For non-elite status members and passengers who did not purchase a priority bundle, American Airlines charges a fee for priority boarding.

The cost typically ranges from about $10 to $75 per flight segment, depending on the specific route and demand.

This fee grants passengers the benefit of boarding the plane earlier, allowing them to secure overhead bin space and settle in comfortably before takeoff.

Included free for elite status members

Passengers with elite status in American Airlines’ frequent flyer program, AAdvantage, enjoy the perk of complimentary priority boarding.

Elite status is achieved by accumulating a certain number of qualifying miles or segments or by meeting specific spending requirements.

This benefit is a valuable perk for frequent travelers who can take advantage of priority boarding without incurring any additional costs.

Can purchase a 5- or 10-segment priority bundle

American Airlines also offers the option to purchase a priority bundle, which includes priority boarding for a set number of flight segments.

Passengers can choose between a 5-segment or 10-segment bundle, allowing them to secure priority boarding for multiple flights at a discounted rate compared to purchasing it individually for each segment.

This option is particularly beneficial for travelers who have multiple flights planned and want to ensure a consistent boarding experience throughout their journey.

It is worth noting that the cost of priority boarding may change over time, so it is always recommended to check the American Airlines website or contact their customer service for the most up-to-date information on pricing and availability.

Who Gets the Most Value From American Priority Boarding?

American Airlines offers priority boarding as a perk for certain travelers. This allows them to board the plane before the general boarding process begins. But who exactly gets the most value from this priority boarding?

Let’s take a look at a few different groups of travelers who benefit from this service.

Frequent leisure travelers without status

For frequent leisure travelers who don’t have elite status with American Airlines, priority boarding can be a valuable perk.

It ensures that they have a better chance of finding overhead bin space for their carry-on luggage.

This is especially important on busy flights where space can be limited. By boarding early, they can secure a spot for their bags and avoid the hassle of having to check them at the gate.

Is American Airlines Priority Worth It

Those who need overhead bin space

Even for travelers with elite status or those who have access to other perks like first-class or business-class boarding, priority boarding is still valuable for those who need overhead bin space.

Whether it’s because they are traveling with larger carry-on items or simply prefer to have their bags within reach, being able to board early ensures that they won’t have to worry about finding space for their belongings.

Customers who want less stress getting seated

Another group of travelers who get the most value from priority boarding are those who want a less stressful boarding experience.

By boarding early, they can avoid the rush and chaos of the general boarding process.

This can be particularly beneficial for families with young children, elderly passengers, or individuals who need extra time to get settled. Priority boarding allows them to find their seats and get situated without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.

Tips for Getting Priority Without Paying For It

Are you looking to enjoy the benefits of priority boarding and other perks without shelling out extra money?

Here are some tips to help you get priority treatment on your next flight:

1. Book premium economy or first class

One way to secure priority boarding is by booking a premium economy or first-class ticket.

These classes typically come with additional benefits, including priority access to the aircraft. While it may cost more than an economy ticket, the extra comfort and perks can make the investment worthwhile, especially for longer flights.

If you are a frequent traveler or have a flexible budget, this could be a great option for you.

Keep in mind that availability may vary depending on the airline and route, so it’s always a good idea to check the options before making your booking.

2. Obtain elite status through a credit card

Many airlines offer credit cards that come with elite status benefits. By obtaining one of these credit cards, you can enjoy priority boarding, free checked bags, and other perks without having to pay for them separately.

For example, American Airlines offers several credit cards that come with different levels of elite status, such as AAdvantage Platinum and AAdvantage Executive Platinum. These cards often have annual fees, but the benefits they provide can easily outweigh the cost if you frequently fly with the airline.

Keep in mind that elite status benefits may vary depending on the credit card and airline, so it’s essential to compare the options and choose the one that best suits your travel needs.

3. Arrive early for regular boarding groups

Even if you don’t have priority boarding, arriving early can still give you an advantage. Airlines typically board passengers in different groups, starting with those needing extra assistance or with young children.

By arriving early, you increase your chances of being among the first to board in the regular boarding groups.

This can be especially beneficial if you have carry-on luggage and want to ensure overhead bin space or if you prefer to settle into your seat before the plane gets too crowded.

Remember to check the airline’s boarding process and arrive with enough time to go through security and find your gate. Being punctual is key to taking advantage of this strategy.

By following these tips, you can enjoy the benefits of priority boarding and other perks without having to pay extra for them. Whether you choose to book a premium class ticket, obtain elite status through a credit card, or arrive early for regular boarding groups, these strategies can help enhance your overall travel experience.


At the end of the day, American Airlines priority boarding is worth considering if you’re a frequent leisure traveler looking for a relatively low-cost way to make your airport experience less chaotic.

For those who already get priority treatment through elite status or premium seating, purchasing priority boarding likely offers diminishing returns.

Infrequent travelers can probably skip priority and rely on early arrival for a decent boarding group.

By understanding what priority boarding consists of, how much it costs, the type of customers who benefit the most, and some workarounds, you can determine if paying extra for this perk fits your budget and travel habits.

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