This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite
“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
American Airlines has changed its boarding groups and TPG reader Dave seems to be getting the short end of it, as his Facebook message relates…
I just received word that my Citi AAdvantage credit card benefits have changed — I now get Group 5 boarding instead of Group 1 boarding. Can you provide some direction in this matter?TPG Reader Dave
On March 1, American switched from an already long 9 boarding groups to a now seemingly endless 10 groups (when you include Concierge Key members). Of course, neither version of the boarding procedure prevents everyone from crowding the gate the moment the boarding door opens. At the very least, you can safely assume that regardless of your group, when you’re called to board you’ll have to politely ask at least two people to move so you can actually get on the plane.
But if you have the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, up until this point you’ve enjoyed Group 1 boarding privileges. That’s no longer the case, as Citibank informed cardholders like Dave and myself in a recent email…
Now, you might very well be wondering how Citi can claim we’re going from Group 1 to Group 5 but somehow not changing the order in which we board? Is this a stealth devaluation in which an airline or bank is trying to spin a negative as a positive?
While that’s usually a valid concern, in this case Citibank is correct. Because what many folks don’t realize is that the old “Group 1” wasn’t actually the first group on the plane. In fact, there were many people who were previously invited to board ahead of Group 1 — they just didn’t have a group name or number. This included first-class passengers, those with elite status, active military, holders of the high-end Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and those who had purchased priority boarding.
In fact, so many customers were allowed to board before Group 1 that Group 1 was effectively the fifth group called to board. So American finally decided to call this what it really is and add group numbers to the non-numbered passengers, which means the previous Group 1 is now called Group 5, even though it hasn’t actually moved down in order.
Here’s American’s comparison chart of the old boarding groups versus the new groups, with eligible Citi AAdvantage credit card holders circled in both procedures…
So, Dave, while it may seem like we’re getting shafted, we’re actually just being renumbered. Hope this helps and thanks for the question. If you’re a TPG reader with a question you’d like answered, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image courtesy of John Gress/Getty Images.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 points! With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 60,000 point sign up bonus worth up to $1,200 in value, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards