I Have the Citi American Airlines Card – and One of My Favorite Benefits Keeps Getting Stripped Away

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I wouldn’t bring this up except that it’s happened multiple times.

One of the less prominent benefits of airline credit cards, like the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select personal and small business cards, is that you get to board before lots of other passengers.  I have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, which gives me group 5 priority boarding, allowing me to board before most other passengers.

But a careless gate agent can render this perk almost useless.

American Airlines Is the Biggest Priority Boarding Offender in My Experience

American Airlines Boarding Process

Boarding group 5 is dedicated for:

  • Travelers who purchased Main Cabin Extra
  • Eligible corporate travelers
  • Eligible Citi American Airlines credit cardmembers

I love this benefit, because it gives you the opportunity to get on the plane while there is still plenty of overhead bin space for carry-on luggage.  The folks near the end of the line might need to either check their bag at the gate or spend an uncomfortable amount of time exploring the plane for space.

An example came from the gate agent conducting the boarding process for one of my American Airlines flights this Thanksgiving week.

After carefully and patiently boarding groups 1 to 4 (active duty military, folks with American Airlines elite status, etc.), he blazed through groups 5 to 9 with extraordinary momentum.  I found myself boarding behind plenty of group 6 passengers.  And while I did have enough overhead bin space in proximity to my seat, there was VERY little. If I’d boarded any later, that space could well have been gone.

It occurred to me that gate agents perhaps don’t know that Group 5 is considered a perk.  Groups 6 through 9 are assigned to passengers who simply buy tickets.  If you’re assigned a group lower than 6, you’ve made some kind of effort to earn it.

Boarding in group 5 with my Citi American Airlines Platinum Select practically guarantees I’ll have overhead bin space.  But with gate agents announcing group 5 in the same breath as groups 6 and 7, I now have to stand near the boarding lane and wait like an Olympic sprinter against starting blocks just to make sure I’m one of the first 45 people aboard.

To be clear, this isn’t the norm.  I’ve only noticed this trend lately.  Boarding in group 5 is still very convenient, and you’ll get it with cards like:

Let me know if you’ve experienced gate agents with little regard for your preferred boarding group.

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Information for the AAdvantage® AviatorTM Red Mastercard®, AAdvantage® AviatorTM Business Mastercard®, AAdvantage® AviatorTM Silver Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® American Express®Card, and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Visa Signature has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.