British Airways Boarding Groups Explained [2023]

Are you preparing for a British Airways flight but not exactly sure how the boarding process works and what all of the boarding groups are?

In this article, we will break down the British Airways boarding process and give you some insight into what to expect as things at the airport don’t always go as smoothly as you might like.

British Airways boarding groups overview

British Airways currently has nine boarding groups but just who goes into each group will depend on which boarding process British Airways is using.

The first British Airways boarding process is designed for long-haul flights. So for example, if you were flying from London to New York you would utilize that boarding process.

The other one is for short-haul flights which would be, for example, flights around the UK and Europe.

We will break down both of these boarding group orders below but first let’s take a quick look at all of the boarding groups for long-haul flights and short-haul flights.

British Airways boarding groups for long-hauls

Priority Group 1

  • First
  • Executive Club Gold Members
  • oneworld Emerald members

Priority Group 2

  • Business (Club World)
  • Executive Club Silver Members
  • oneworld Sapphire members

Priority Group 2

  • Premium economy (World Traveller Plus)
  • Executive Club Bronze Members
  • oneworld Ruby members

Groups 4 to 9

  • Economy (World Traveller)

British Airways boarding groups for short-hauls

Priority Group 1

  • Business (Club World)
  • Executive Club Gold Members
  • oneworld Emerald members

Priority Group 2

  • Executive Club Silver Members
  • oneworld Sapphire members

Priority Group 3

  • Executive Club Bronze Members
  • oneworld Ruby members

Groups 4 to 9

  • Economy (Euro Traveller)
British Airways Boarding Group Sign


For both long-haul and short haul flights, British Airways offers pre-boarding for a variety of different groups.

If you’re traveling as a family with a small child under two years old and/or have a young child in a pushchairs, you can be among the first to board. It’s recommended that you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to departure so that you are ready for pre-boarding and the agents have enough time to load your push chair.

Some passengers do not care for family boarding getting lumped in with preboarding as they feel that it dilutes the value of priority boarding. This is especially true whenever huge “families” utilize preboarding. So if you are using family boarding, try not to be too liberal with your definition of family.

If you have a disability or require some type of mobility assistance, you can also utilize pre-boarding. It’s advised to contact British Airways 48 hours before your flight so that they can make special arrangements for you.

Anytime you are using pre-boarding, it’s a good idea to check in with the gate agent as soon as you arrive just so that you can verify that everything is in order. Airlines don’t always do a good job at announcing pre-boarding and so it always helps to double check everything at the gate.

Also, if you are wondering about unaccompanied minors and boarding, know that they don’t have a traditional UM policy and you can read more about that here.

Something interesting that British Airways sometimes does is that they bring up people who have to check their luggage at the gate during this time. This could happen because they have one of the last boarding groups and the flight is full or because they somehow got through with an oversized bag.

On some occasions, British Airways will allow these passengers to board during pre-boarding or shortly after. Sometimes the checking of bags and boarding of these passengers can be a little time consuming which can be frustrating for those with priority boarding.

British Airways plane

Long-haul flights

Priority Group 1

  • First
  • Executive Club Gold Members
  • oneworld Emerald members

If you’re flying first class, you’ll be among the first to board.

Some people heavily criticized the British Airways first class product for only being a slight step up from business class. While I agree it’s got some real room for improvement, I’ve enjoyed my experience on British Airways first class and you can read about it here.

Along with first class, the highest elite level members will be able to board: Executive Club Gold Members along with oneworld Emerald members. You should be able to see a sign with the emerald, sapphire, and ruby icons for one world elites.

One issue with the British Airways boarding process is that sometimes agents don’t give priority group one enough time to board before calling up the other priority groups.

There are instances where an agent might call up for group two only seconds after making the announcement for group one!

In fact, sometimes an agent might even lump all of the groups together. You could hear an announcement like boarding groups “one through three.”

It may not sound like a big deal but for people who really value their elite status, it can feel like you are losing out on real value. For example, if you are pushed to the back of boarding you may struggle to find overhead storage bin space which should not happen for someone with top elite status.

Also, calling so many people at the same time can result in a pretty disorderly boarding process. Sometimes it works but other times it doesn’t.

Generally, you may find the boarding process to be more orderly at London’s hub, LHR. But when boarding at countries outside of the UK, you may experience a lot of inconsistencies.

British Airways also have somewhat of a reputation for not policing boarding passes.

This is needed so that people from lower boarding groups don’t try to board early. Lots of airlines don’t properly police these things because they can slow down boarding and cause conflict/confusion between passengers and crew but British Airways seems to be a common offender.

At times, specific airports might enforce boarding groups harder than others so just because one airport is laid back about it, that does not mean that your next attempt to skip a couple of boarding groups is going to go so smooth.

With staff shortages, it’s very possible that some boarding issues have recently gone from bad to worse and it may take some major efforts by the higher ups to correct for the deficiencies. In the meantime, you can do your best to arrive to the boarding area early in order to try to secure a spot for your boarding group.

But other times, you may just have to deal with crowded areas full of gate lice, clueless passengers, and ground crew agents who are just trying to get the job done as quickly as possible.

Priority Group 2

  • Business (Club World)
  • Executive Club Silver Members
  • oneworld Sapphire members

The second group to board is business class along with the second level elites. British Airways recently revamped it’s business class product so that it’s now a much higher quality experience. As mentioned above, don’t be surprised if group two is lumped in with group one.

Priority Group 3

  • Premium economy (World Traveller Plus)
  • Executive Club Bronze Members
  • oneworld Ruby members

Groups 4 to 9

  • Economy (World Traveller)

If you purchase a Basic fare, you will be boarding in the last group. Otherwise, you would be in general boarding which consists of all but the final boarding group.

The boarding process for economy passengers can play out differently just like it can for premium customers. It’s possible that an agent could lump several groups together for an expedited process. Don’t be surprised to hear several groups called at a time.

But sometimes you might even see some of the groups lumped together by signage. For example, you could see a sign for groups four and nine but then a separate sign specifically for groups four through five. There may even be indicators for boarding positions based on your row.

British Airways Boarding Group Sign

Short-haul flights

You’ll notice that the boarding groups for short haul flights are very similar.

Missing is first class because British Airways only puts three cabin products on long-haul flights. Therefore, the highest class is business class and those will board with the Executive Club Gold Members and oneworld Emerald members as shown below.

On these shorter routes with smaller aircraft, getting the boarding order correct is probably even more important than the long-haul flights because overhead storage in space is more precious.

Priority Group 1

  • Business (Club World)
  • Executive Club Gold Members
  • oneworld Emerald members

Priority Group 2

  • Executive Club Silver Members
  • oneworld Sapphire members

Priority Group 3

  • Executive Club Bronze Members
  • oneworld Ruby members

Groups 4 to 9

  • Economy (Euro Traveller)

Arriving late to the boarding area

If you arrive late to the boarding area, British Airways will allow you to utilize the priority line to get ahead of other passengers as they state, “If you arrive after your priority group has been called, you can use the priority boarding lane to go through at your leisure.”

The biggest thing when doing this is to remember that you want to be respectful of other passengers. It can be off-putting when you cut others in line (even if you are justified in doing so). So just try to do this with some grace.

Boarding together

If you are traveling with others and receive different boarding groups, it’s still possible for you to board together. It’s recommended that you check with the gate and get them to sort it out.

Check-in requirements

If you’re curious about the cut off times for checking in, British Airways has several different cut offs.

It’s usually a good idea to check in as soon as you can so that you can decrease the odds of you getting bumped from a flight, so I always try to check in 24 hours prior to a flight. But here are the minimum times for those brave souls who are willing to cut things scary close.

AirportCheck-in close times
London Heathrow60 minutes before long haul flights depart
45 minutes before short haul flights depart
London Gatwick60 minutes before long haul flights depart
60 minutes before short haul flights depart
London City20 minutes before all flights depart
Other UK airports45 minutes before all flights depart
Short haul European airports45 minutes before all flights depart, except at:
Amsterdam, Amman, Antalya, Berlin (Brandenburg), Dalaman, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Lisbon, Madrid, Milan (Malpensa) and Palma de Mallorca – 1 hour
Long haul international airportsAt least 60 minutes before all flights depart
Chart via British Airways.

British Airways boarding FAQ

When do families with small children board?

Families with small children can board during pre-boarding.

When do passengers with a basic fare board?

Passengers with a basic fare will board after general boarding.

When do elite passengers board?

Priority Group 1:
Executive Club Gold Members
oneworld Emerald members
Priority Group 2:
Executive Club Silver Members
oneworld Sapphire members
Priority Group 3:
Executive Club Bronze Members
oneworld Ruby members

If you have priority boarding, can you skip the general boarding line?

Yes, you can use the priority lane even if you show up when general boarding is taking place.

How many boarding groups does British Airways have?

In addition to preboarding, British Airways has nine boarding groups.

Final word

British Airways adopted the numbered boarding group structure for boarding like many other airlines.

Their system is a little bit more complicated because the groups differ based on short haul and long-haul flights, though. Also, they have a reputation for not enforcing boarding groups very much and lumping several groups together which means that your boarding experience may not be as smooth as it could be.

Southwest Boarding Groups Explained: From A-List to Group C! [2023]

Are you wondering how exactly Southwest boarding groups work?

This article will show you everything you need to know about the Southwest boarding process.

I’ll also show you different ways that you can get priority boarding and cover things like family boarding and military boarding. I’ll also give you some details about Southwest seating (charts, maps, etc.) and some tips for getting the best seats.

How many boarding groups does Southwest have?

Southwest has three main boarding groups:

  • Boarding group A
  • Boarding group B
  • Boarding group C

If you want to understand the Southwest boarding process though, you’ll need to understand much more than the three boarding groups. Keep reading below for more info on the boarding process!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Best Southwest credit cards

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card

The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card comes with the following benefits:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 6,000 anniversary points (learn more)
  • Earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 Tier-Qualifying Points each calendar year
  • $99 Annual fee

Southwest Airlines Priority Card

The Southwest Airlines Priority Card comes with all of the benefits offered below:

  • Bonus spending:
    • 2X Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases
    • 2X Rapid Rewards on hotel and car rental partner purchases.
    • 1X Rapid Rewards on all other purchases
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit (learn more)
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list Status
  • $149 annual fee applied to your first billing statement

How does Southwest boarding work?

When you check-in for your flight, you’ll be assigned a boarding group (A, B, or C) and within that boarding group you’ll be assigned a number (1 through 60).

So for example, you might be assigned A50, which means you’ll be the 50th person to board within Group A.

It could vary depending on the airport, but generally, you’ll see monitors or signs showing you where to stand for your group. The signs will typically say something like “A 1-30” or “A 31-60.”

An “A 1-30” sign would mean that if you have an A boarding pass and your boarding number is 30 or under (e.g., A25), that is where you need to go to line up.

You should also see some silver posts marked with numbers which will tell you where to stand. These numbers are usually marked in increments of five.

So if you have A50, you’ll locate the post that might have something like “50 to 55” marked and that is where you will need to go.

Southwest boarding post

You will then stand in that space and as the other four passengers start to accumulate in that area you will usually sort yourselves out by asking each other what boarding spot they have.

If you have A50, you will be in front of that little “50 to 55” section but if you had something like A53 you would be in the middle. Not all passengers care about getting in the exact order but some do.

Once you find where you need to stand, you’ll simply wait for them to start boarding and proceed to make your way to the plane. Once you’re inside the plane, you can choose any seat since seats are not assigned with Southwest.

As unconventional as it might sound from other airlines like United, the boarding procedures are usually pretty smooth.

Southwest planes at airport

What order does Southwest board its planes?

Although there are only three boarding groups, the actual boarding pass issuance process is actually more complex.

Below is the order that boarding passes will be issued, which also determines the order that you will board the plane.

Note that Southwest will usually not call for people to board by these categories. For example, they are not going to ask for all the “A-List” or “EarlyBird” members to board.

Instead, they will call groups up by boarding pass group number. You will hear something like, “now boarding all passengers with Group A boarding passes numbered one through 30.”

So below is the order that you can expect boarding passes to be issued/the order boarding will go.

Passengers already on the plane

Some passengers may already be on the plane depending on the origin of the flight. But if some passengers got off the plane for a layover, they might be among the first to board.

This means that you could have a Business Select ticket, and still have several people board before you depending on the size of the crowds.


Preboarding is available for “customers who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability and/or need assistance in boarding the aircraft or stowing an assistive device.”

(Those with service animals will usually be included in this group as well.)

This is also when unaccompanied minors board the plane.

Other passengers who might board at this time are those with large camera equipment, instruments, and certain other select people like those who need an extra seat.

This group will be able to board before anybody else despite whatever boarding group or boarding number they are issued.

Because of the open seat policy for Southwest, passengers using preboarding may come under more scrutiny than other airlines.

So if you want to use preboarding with Southwest, it’s a good idea to inquire at the check-in counter about getting that on your boarding pass. In addition, you can also add a special service request to your booking.

Business Select

The next individuals to board are those who purchased Business Select fares. (This will be the first group to be issued boarding passes beginning with Group A.)

Southwest doesn’t offer a traditional first class but they do offer Business Select fares, which offer you the highest earning rate for Rapid Rewards. (More on those tickets below).

After passengers who have purchased Business Select fares, those who were upgraded to Business Select will be issued boarding passes.

A-list Preferred

The next to get boarding passes will be A-List Preferred, which is the top-tier elite status offered by Southwest.

You can qualify for A-List Preferred by flying 50 one-way qualifying segments or earning 70,000 qualifying points.

Once you qualify for A-List Preferred, you’ll receive a 100% bonus on Rapid Rewards earned, priority check-in, and security lane access. You’ll also get free in-flight wifi (on planes equipped with wifi) and the ability to get on earlier flights for free.


A-list is the bottom-tier elite status just below A-List Preferred and so they get boarding passes right after A-List Preferred.

A-List can be achieved by flying 25 one-way qualifying segments or earning 35,000 qualifying points.

Once you qualify for A-List, you’ll receive a 25% bonus on Rapid Rewards earned, priority check-in, and security lane access.


The next passengers to get boarding passes will be those with EarlyBird.

Southwest EarlyBird automatically checks you in 36 hours prior to departure and while it does not guarantee an A boarding spot, it will offer you a much better chance of getting a window or aisle seat.

Read more below on whether or not it’s worth it.

Boarding Group A/B

After EarlyBird passengers are issued boarding passes then boarding passes are issued based on the number of slots left over for Group A.

As mentioned, it is possible that there are no Group A boarding spots left for some EarlyBird passengers so the next boarding passes issued could be for Group B.

Some people might always be able to board right after Group A.

Need extra time

Something interesting about Southwest is that they state that if “a Customer with a disability simply needs a little extra time to board, we will permit the Customer to board before Family Boarding, between the “A” and “B” groups.”

Technically, this goes against the rules for preboarding because even people who only need a little extra time during boarding should qualify for preboarding.

Family boarding

If you are traveling with a kid 6 or under, you should be able to board in between Group A and Group B (this is the family boarding time).

A-List (last minute)

Also, if you’re A-List and you purchased a last minute ticket you’ll be able to board between Group A and Group B.


And finally, military members (usually in uniform but not always) can board between Group A and Group B. If you’re not traveling in your uniform, consider showing your military ID to a gate agent and inquiring about priority boarding.

Boarding Group B

Once boarding Group A is filled up, then boarding Group B boarding passes will be issued.

If you’re in boarding Group B, you can still get a decent seat if you’re in B1 to B30, but the closer you get to boarding Group C, the tougher it’s going to be to get your desired seat.

However, if you’re okay with sitting in the rear of the plane, it will be easier to find desirable seats or seats together.

Boarding Group C

Once boarding Group B is filled up, then boarding Group C boarding passes will be issued.

Most of the time if you’re in Group C, it’s going to be very difficult to get a window seat or aisle seat. Head towards the back for your best odds.


Standbys will be the last to board.


Southwest boarding area

Companion Pass Boarding

The Southwest Companion Pass allows a partner to fly for free with you for up to two full calendar years and it’s one of the most valuable travel perks sought by many.

When you utilize the Companion Pass you and your partner will not necessarily get boarding passes right next to each other. Southwest did run a trial allowing companions to board next to each other but I’m unaware of the results of the trial.

Why do boarding groups matter?

Besides just being able to board the plane quicker and choose your desired seat (window or aisle), there are two specific reasons why you’d want a higher boarding pass.


Southwest has a generous baggage policy where they allow you to check two bags for free.

As for carry-ons, it’s the same baggage policy that most other major airlines have for their standard tickets: 1 personal item and 1 carry-on.

So by getting a better boarding position, you’ll be able to guarantee that you’ll have overhead storage for your bags.

Emergency row seats

Emergency exit rows on Southwest planes have extra legroom and/or have rows with only two seats which are great for couples.

By securing a higher boarding pass, your flight can become a lot more enjoyable as you’ll have more room.

Southwest usually flies 737-700s and 737-800s and the 737-800s have more emergency exit rows with only two seats, so it’s a good idea to check ahead of time (if possible) to see which type of aircraft you are flying on.

Southwest seats

Southwest seating details (seating chart)

If you’re flying Southwest, chances are you’ll be flying on a 737-700 or a 737-800.

You might be wondering about how much room you’ll have with your Southwest seating and here’s what you can expect:

  • 737-700 — Pitch (leg room): 31 inches; width 17 inches
  • 737-800 — Pitch (leg room): 32 to 33 inches; width 17 inches
  • 737-800MAX — Pitch (leg room): 32 to 33 inches; width 17.8 inches

So as you can see, when it comes to Southwest seating, you’ll get more leg room with the 737-800 according to SeatGuru and you’ll have a wider seat with the 737-800 Max.

.8 inches might now sound like that much but every little bit helps when you’re flying. You can view the Southwest seating charts here

Southwest seats

Get the best seat selection (Southwest priority boarding)

There are a few ways that you can secure “priority boarding” with Southwest.

I put that in quotations because there aren’t true priority boarding groups but there are some ways you can effectively get priority boarding and get the best seat selection.

Business Select

If you purchase a Business Select fare, you’ll be guaranteed a boarding position A1 to A15.

Business Select fares are usually just a little bit more expensive than Anytime fares but they allow you to earn more points and also offer the following benefits:

  • Guaranteed A1-A15 boarding
  • Fly By lane access
  • Free premium drink
  • 12 Rapid Rewards per dollar spent
  • Fully refundable fare

You can read more on whether or not Business Select fares are worth it here

Upgrade to Business Select

Instead of purchasing Business Select fares you can also upgrade.

The cost to upgrade to Business Select varies from $30 to $50 per segment, depending on the route.

To upgrade, simply approach the ticket counter or desk at the departure gate and inquire about the upgrade.

Sometimes they make you upgrade at the gate reserved for your flight but other times you can do it at check-in or at another Southwest gate.

Southwest should be able to tell you exactly what boarding number you’d receive before you upgrade so you can see if it’s worth it.

Update: you can now upgrade online at the time of check-in!

The Southwest Priority Credit Card offers up to four upgrades to priority boarding (A1 to A15) based on availability per year.

Among other benefits, it also offers a $75 annual credit, 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies, and 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies. It’s not a bad way to cover those upgrades to Business Select if you only need to cover a few of those a year. 

Southwest EarlyBird

Another option to secure a priority boarding position is to go with Southwest EarlyBird.

This will automatically check you in 36 hours prior to departure.

EarlyBird does not guarantee an A boarding pass but it will almost always get you a boarding pass that will allow you to get an aisle or window seat.

For the most part, you should be able to get a window seat or aisle seat just by checking in yourself 24 hours before your flight. (It’s often possible to get an A boarding pass checking in on your own.)

However, if you won’t be available to check in 24 hours prior or you don’t think that you’ll remember then EarlyBird could be worth it.

EarlyBird used to cost $10 each way and then it was increased to $15 each way. But recently, the pricing was changed to dynamic pricing so it could cost up to $25.

Good News: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card now offers two annual credits for Southwest EarlyBird!

You can read more about whether or not Southwest EarlyBird is worth it here.

Can you save seats on Southwest?

There’s a lot of debate as to whether or not its acceptable to save seats on Southwest flights.

For the most part it does seem to be frowned upon but you can usually save seats within reason.

Generally, saving seats at the rear of the plane is not an issue, especially if you’re trying to keep your family together.

With that said, if you have a very large group, you might be inviting some issues since saving multiple rows can get a little messy at times.

Also, you don’t want to save seats in the front of the plane, as that might lead to confrontations. In addition, it’s usually not a good idea to save seats in the emergency exit rows as those are usually in high demand.

Tip: One trick I’ve done in the past is to get the flight attendant to occupy a seat as people board and people will usually pass over that seat.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Can groups board together?

Southwest will allow you to board in groups even if your boarding passes are not directly before or after each other.

The catch is that they want you to board with the member who has the lowest boarding pass.

So for example, let’s say there are three of you and you have the following boarding passes:

  • A25
  • A60
  • B30

Southwest will ask that A25 and A60 board with B30.

This is to preserve the “integrity” of the boarding process since it actually doesn’t affect the boarding waiting time of any of the other passengers.

How to print a Southwest boarding pass?

You can easily print your boarding pass by checking in online.

You can print your boarding pass online at or at the airport using a self-service kiosk on the day of departure.

Southwest also allows you to board with a electronic or mobile boarding passes. You can request a mobile boarding pass at the time of check-in on, the mobile site, or the Southwest mobile app for iPhone or Android.

But note that mobile boarding passes are not currently available to passengers traveling on international flights.

Southwest Tips

If you want to learn more tips about flying for Southwest click here.

Also, if you want to earn more Rapid Rewards, be sure to check out the Southwest Shopping Portal

Southwest boarding FAQ

How can I get the best boarding group?

You can get the best boarding group on Southwest by purchasing or upgrading to Business Select. Upgrading will cost you $30-$50 per segment.

You can also get a better boarding position by having A-List status.

By purchasing EarlyBird, you can also increase your odds of getting in the first boarding group although it is not guaranteed.

How do I choose my seat before the flight?

Southwest does not allow you to select your seat prior to the flight.

Is it okay to save seats on Southwest?

Opinions are mixed on saving seats with Southwest Airlines. The best advice is to save seats in the back of the plane if you must and try to avoid saving multiple rows at a time when flying with a large group.

When does A-list board?

A-List will board directly after Business Select. First, A-List Preferred will board and then following them A-List will board.

When do families board?

Family boarding (which is offered to families traveling with a kid 6 or under), allows you to board between Group A and Group B.

What boarding group do I need for a window or aisle seat?

Typically, if you have a boarding position under B30 you should be able to find a window or aisle seat. The further back in the plane you decide to sit, the more likely you will find a window or aisle seat.

When do standbys board?

Standby passengers will be the last to board.

How much legroom do you have on Southwest?

You generally will have 31 to 32 inches of legroom.

Does Southwest have a special boarding policy for coronavirus?

No, Southwest stopped doing the special boarding process in March 2021.

Final word

Southwest boarding policies are pretty straight forward.

There are a few ways that you can get priority boarding though they all come with different degrees of assurance.

United Airlines Basic Economy vs Economy (Key Differences) [2023]

Are you thinking about saving a little bit of money by flying Basic Economy on United Airlines?

If so, you’re probably curious about the differences between United Basic Economy and regular (or standard) economy.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive at all of the big (and small) differences so that you know exactly what to expect before flying on Basic Economy.

I’ll also analyze the price differences and give you some insight into whether or not it’s worth it to fly United Basic Economy.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Booking United Airlines Basic Economy

Booking a United Airlines Basic Economy fare will be the same process as booking a ticket for standard economy.

If there is a United Airlines Basic Economy fare available, you’ll clearly see it when selecting your fare during booking.

Also, the differences between economy and Basic Economy will be made very clear to you as you go through the booking process.

Multiple windows will appear showing you the difference between the two so that you don’t make an uninformed decision.

But even with all of those prompts, there still are quite a few nuances that you want to be aware of and I’ll go into those below.

Full-sized carry-on bags

The biggest difference between economy and Basic Economy that most people are probably familiar with is the carry-on baggage policy.

Basic economy fares do not allow you to bring on a free carry-on bag on all routes.

However, some routes will allow you to bring a free carry-on item and those include:

  • Trans-Pacific flights to and from the US
  • Trans-Atlantic flights to and from the US (flights to Europe, Africa and the Middle East)
  • Flights to and from Mexico and Central America, and South America.

Also, if you have a certain type of membership you might still be able to bring a carry-on even with the Basic Economy ticket.

These memberships include if you are a:

  • MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation
  • Primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or
  • Star Alliance Gold member.

If you are not allowed a carry-on bag but bring one anyways you will be required to pay the applicable checked baggage fee. In addition to that, you will likely be charged a $25 gate handling fee.

Personal item

Just like standard economy passengers, United Basic Economy passengers are still allowed to bring a personal item.

A personal item is basically a smaller carry-on which could be something like a small backpack, purse, laptop, etc.

The dimensions allowed for your personal item are: 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm) or less. In my experience, if the object can easily fit under your seat it should not be a problem.

Mobility aids, assistive devices and medical devices including breast pumps are also permitted.

Seat selection

Economy passengers are allowed to select their seat at the time of booking. During that time, you’ll be shown a seat map of the plane and you can select any open seat or choose to pay more for an Economy Plus seat.

However, if you book a Basic Economy ticket, your seat will automatically be assigned prior to boarding (at check-in) and you cannot change it once you have been assigned to it.

In some cases when booking a Basic Economy ticket it will be possible to purchase advance seat assignments during booking and up until check-in opens.

This can be done after you input your personal information during booking and prices will differ based on your route and where in the cabin you are selecting a seat.

For a standard seat in economy, the price for seat selection may range from $10 to $20.

As you’ll see below, sometimes the price difference between economy and Basic Economy is not that great so selecting your seats could be more expensive than just booking economy.

Note: MileagePlus members, including MileagePlus Premier members, will not earn PQP or other accruals toward Premier status for purchasing a standard Economy seat assignment

If you want to purchase Economy Plus tickets, that will only be available at the time of check-in.

Elite benefits and upgrades

Also, MileagePlus Premier members won’t be eligible for complimentary Economy Plus seating. That’s actually a pretty major drawback because Economy Plus upgrades for elite members are extremely common to get.

Note: MileagePlus members, including Premier members, cannot use complimentary, earned or mileage upgrades, or Economy Plus subscription benefits.

Groups and families

When it comes to selecting your seats, a major factor to keep in mind is that customers traveling in groups (including families) will not be placed in seats together.

The only way to ensure that you’ll be seated by each other is if you book advanced seat assignments.

Unaccompanied minors

Seat assignments can be made for unaccompanied minors flying on United.

If you are dealing with an unaccompanied minor on a Basic Economy ticket, call the United Customer Contact Center after you finish your booking and pay the unaccompanied minor fee.

Passengers with disabilities

Passengers with disabilities can be accommodated when purchasing a Basic Economy ticket. You just need to make sure that you make a request at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled flight.


United Airlines has a pretty straightforward boarding process. If you booked an economy ticket you’ll be boarding somewhere between groups 3 through 5, unless some special status applies.

However, if you have a Basic Economy ticket you will be the last to board the plane in group 5.

Normally, that would cause issues for finding overhead storage bin space for your carry-on bag. However, in this case you won’t have a carry-on bag so it is much less of an issue.

There is a very high chance you’ll be given a middle seat so be prepared for that.

Something to be aware of is that if you are a United Basic Economy passenger, you can still retain your priority boarding if you are a:  

  • MileagePlus Premier member or companion traveling on the same reservation
  • The primary cardmember of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card or
  • A Star Alliance Gold member.

Checked baggage

For the most part, the checked baggage policies for United Basic Economy and regular economy are the same. However, things might be slightly different on international flights.

That is because for Basic Economy fares on trans-Atlantic flights, you’ll have to pay for your first checked bag.

Refunds and changes

There is no change fee for most United standard economy tickets. The only out-of-pocket expense you would have when changing a standard economy ticket would be if the fare is more expensive.

However, things are much different for United Basic Economy. In order to make a change you would have to add economy benefits (which I talk about below).

Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for changes, but are eligible for a full refund inside 24 hours of booking as long as you completed your purchase one week or more before the original scheduled departure flight.

Also, if you cancel a United Basic Economy ticket, you will not get a travel credit. Instead, you would have to add the economy benefits in order to receive a travel credit upon canceling.

Most likely that travel credit will be good for 12 months from the time of ticketing.

MileagePlus and Premier member benefits

If you’re wondering about earning miles and credit toward elite status things are almost the same between economy and Basic Economy.

MileagePlus members will earn award miles for Basic Economy tickets but they will be at 50% the rate as a standard economy ticket.

They will also earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) as well as lifetime miles and accrue toward the four-segment minimum.

But one major difference is that Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs). 

If you’re wondering about checked baggage, elite members will still receive the complimentary checked baggage allowance they are entitled to.

In-flight experience

The in-flight experience for a Basic Economy and economy passenger will be very similar.

Basic Economy passengers will still have access to purchase things like in-flight Wi-Fi, entertainment, food, drinks, etc.

And contrary to some rumors that surfaced at some point, Basic Economy passengers will not have to pay to use the lavatory.

Adding economy benefits (upgrading)

If you purchase a Basic Economy ticket but end up deciding that you don’t want to miss out on the standard economy benefits, you can still add them.

Prices may vary but you might be paying around $45. Keep in mind that every passenger on the itinerary must be upgraded with economy benefits — you cannot mix economy passengers with Basic Economy.

This can be done after the time of booking by visiting the Trip Details page on, or Reservation Details in the United mobile app. 

If you’re in the middle of the trip you can still add economy benefits to your return trip as long as the return trip has not started.

Obviously, the sooner you act the more seats you will have available to you, so acting quick can be very beneficial.

The Basic Economy upgrade benefits include being able to:

  • Cancel or change your flight without paying a change fee
  • Bring one full-size carry-on item on board
  • Receive a complimentary seat assignment prior to check-in
  • Purchase Economy Plus or premium cabin seats
  • Enjoy select Premier status benefits associated with your Premier status: complimentary access to Economy Plus and preferred seating, Complimentary Premier Upgrades, and the option to upgrade using PlusPoints, as applicable

You may not be able to add economy benefits to all Basic Economy tickets but generally you should be able to when flying on select domestic U.S. flights and short-haul flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

Note that you may not be able to add economy benefits if you purchased a bulk fare, award ticket, or a deeply discounted ticket.


Now that you know about all of the major differences and benefits between basic economy and economy, let’s take a look at the price differences for some of the most popular routes.

After analyzing 100 data points, we found that United Basic Economy was on average about 18% cheaper than economy.

The price difference could range from a small as $3 to over $60 so if you’re choosing between the two fares you don’t always want to assume that United Basic Economy is a far superior deal.

Here is all of the data that we found.

Basic EconomyEconomy
Chicago, IL (ORD)
Phoenix, AZ (PHX)$185$199
Seattle, WA (SEA)$232$249
Washingon, D.C. (DCA)$69$94
Las Vegas, NV (LAS)$192$195
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW)$79$89
Baltimore, MD (BWI)$89$109
Atlanta, GA (ATL)$163$173
Akron, OH (CAK)$116$194
Cedar Rapids, IA (CID)$141$169
Charleston, WV (CRW)$184$209
Denver, CO (DEN)
Phoenix, AZ (PHX)$64$84
Allentown, PA (ABE)$156$181
Brownsville, TX (BRO)$123$168
Butte, MT (BTM)$79$89
Cheyenne, WY (CYS)$56$61
Dodge City, KS (DDC)$96$107
Fresno, CA (FAT)$127$167
Harlingen, TX (HRL)$123$168
Hobbs, NM (HOB)$173$193
Joplin, MO (JLN)$122$127
Houston, TX (IAH)
San Antonio, TX (SAT)$79$104
San Diego, CA (SAN)$149$174
Austin, TX (AUS)$59$84
Jacksonville, FL (JAX)$129$154
Columbus, OH (CMH)$139$164
Indianapolis, IN (IND)$129$154
Lincoln, NE (LNK)$224$249
Louisville, KY (SDF)$192$231
Madison, WI (MSN)$158$183
Manchester, NH (MHT)$177$227
Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
San Diego, CA (SAN)$89$114
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW)$182$193
Austin, TX (AUS)$70$99
Jacksonville, FL (JAX)$256$267
Mason City, IA (MCW)$165$220
McAllen, TX (MFE)$168$193
Miami, FL (MIA)$229$233
Milwaukee, WI (MKE)$308$329
Mobile, AL (MOB)$250$267
New York, NY (LGA)$199$218
New York, NY (EWR)
Phoenix, AZ (PHX)$137$168
Philadelphia, PA (PHL)$174$199
San Antonio, TX (SAT)$108$133
San Diego, CA (SAN)$158$198
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW)$99$134
Austin, TX (AUS)$94$119
Jacksonville, FL (JAX)$49$74
Columbus, OH (CMH)$89$114
Indianapolis, IN (IND)$119$144
Charlotte, NC (CLT)$119$144

When United Basic Economy is not worth it

There are a few instances when United Basic Economy will probably not be worth it.

  • You want to bring a carry-on item
  • You want to sit together with a family or group
  • You think you might need flexibility to make a change or cancel
  • You need to earn Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs)

As you can tell from above, the price difference between economy and United Basic Economy is not always that much but the price to add economy benefits can be much higher than that difference.

For example, imagine purchasing United Basic Economy because it is $20 cheaper but then having to shell out $45 to make a change or cancellation.

So at the end of the day you may end up spending more money trying to save if you later end up realizing you need the economy benefits.

United Basic Economy FAQ

Are Basic Economy fares available on all United flights?

United Airlines states that “Basic Economy fares are available on select routes” so you might not be able to find these on every route.

Does United offer you a carry on for Basic Economy fares?

On domestic flights you are not offered a free carry-on but on many international routes you will be allowed a free carry-on bag.

Can you change a United Basic Economy fare?

No, you cannot change a Basic Economy fare. Instead, you will have to add economy benefits in order to make a change to your flight. This essentially works out to be a “change fee.”

Does United Basic Economy count towards status?

Yes, you can earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) as well as lifetime miles and accrue toward the four-segment minimum. But Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs). 

What can you take on United Basic Economy?

You can take a personal item with you but full-sized carry-on bags are not allowed on many routes. When flying internationally, you may be allowed a carry-on bag so be sure to check the terms of your booking.

How much does it cost to check a bag with United Basic Economy?

The standard checked bag fees will apply. However, if you have to check a carry-on bag you will have to pay an additional $25.

How do you upgrade from United Basic Economy?

Upgrading can be done after the time of booking by visiting the Trip Details page on or Reservation Details in the United mobile app. You may not be able to add economy benefits to all Basic Economy tickets. 

How much is it to choose a seat on United Basic Economy?

The price will differ based on the route and where in the cabin you are selecting a seat. Prices can be as cheap as $10 but can increase to $20+.

How much cheaper is United Basic Economy than standard economy?

We analyzed 100 data points and found that United Basic Economy is approximately 18% cheaper on average.

Final word

United Basic Economy is a way to save money on airfare no doubt. If you don’t have a need for a carry-on and don’t care where you sit on the plane, it could make sense for you to purchase a Basic Economy fare.

The problem is that if an unexpected situation arises and you need to make a change or cancellation, you may end up spending more money than you initially would have had you simply booked an economy ticket.

Also, while you can retain some elite benefits like priority boarding and free checked baggage, you lose out on things like upgrades to economy plus.

JetBlue Boarding Policy Guide (Window vs Aisle Seats) [2023]

Every airline has a different type of boarding policy (although a lot of them are pretty similar). JetBlue boards its planes by groups in a pretty standard fashion compared to other US airlines, such as United and American.

So boarding a JetBlue plane is pretty straightforward.

But there are some things that you likely will have questions about such as what boarding group will you likely get based on your seat (window vs aisle).

In this article I will answer all of the questions you may have about JetBlue’s boarding policy and groups.

JetBlue boarding groups order

There are a total of ten JetBlue boarding groups and these include:

  1. Pre-Boarding for customers with disabilities
  2. Mosaic and Mint customers
  3. Even More Space customers (Group A)
  4. Courtesy Boarding
  5. Group B
  6. Group C
  7. Group D
  8. Group E
  9. Group F
  10. All remaining customers

Below, I will go into detail as to who qualifies for each boarding group. Note that the below is an overview and provides general guidance but your specific boarding group may vary.

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Pre-Boarding for customers with disabilities

If you need pre-boarding it’s recommended that you speak to a crew member at the gate prior to the boarding time.

Just let them know the type of assistance you may need and they can help you out with things like wheelchairs, service animals, or any equipment that might be needed.

If you have a disability and require special travel needs JetBlue recommends that you book your flights as soon as you can and that you add a Special Service Request (SSR).

Adding an SSR is easy and you can do it when you choose your own seat when you book online at or with the JetBlue app.

Just check the box under the traveler info, and dropdown menus will appear. There is no fee to add an SSR.  

You can find out more about disability seating here.

Unaccompanied minors can also board during pre-boarding as well. However, if they show up at the gate after pre-boarding has already ended or later they may board the aircraft at the end.

Keep in mind that JetBlue usually has designated seats on the last row of the aircraft for unaccompanied minors.

 Related: Guide to Visiting Airports & Flying with Vision Impairments

Mosaic and Mint customers

Mosaic status is the elite status of JetBlue.

It comes with a number of benefits which include a free first and second checked bag, change and cancellation fees waived, 15,000 bonus points upon qualifying, expedited security line, early boarding, and additional bonus points.

Mint is the business class cabin for JetBlue and it is widely considered one of the best offered by any US airline. You can read more about what the Mint experience is like here.

JetBlue Mint seat

Even More Space customers (Group A)

JetBlue Even More Space customers get to board with Group A.

Even More Space is just like economy plus for other airlines and they provide you with extra legroom.

The extra legroom could be up to 7 inches which is pretty significant for economy seats so this can be well worth it for a lot of people who value that extra space for their feet and legs.

Courtesy Boarding for active military personnel and customers traveling with small children

After Group A is courtesy boarding which is for active military personnel and also customers traveling with small children. It’s always a good idea for active military members to have their military ID with them.

If you are traveling with a car seat or a stroller this would be the boarding group you would likely fall into.

Related: Comprehensive Military Airline Benefits and Discount Guide

Group B

Group B is the first general boarding group for JetBlue. If you are seated in the rear of the plane you will likely be a part of Group B.

Also, if you have a window seat towards the back of the aircraft your odds of getting Group B should be pretty high.

Group C

Group C is the second general boarding group and it caters to those in the middle seats, especially for those sitting towards the back of the plane.

However, if you have a window seat and are seated towards the front of the plane then this might be the group you get.

Group D

Group D will be for economy passengers seated in middle seats towards the front of the plane or people in aisle seats towards the back of the plane.

If you are boarding in this group and your plane is full there is a chance that you may not find room for your carry-on items in the overhead storage bin. This is especially true if you are flying on an E-190 aircraft.

Group E

This group will not be called if you are flying on an E-190 aircraft.

Group F

One of the last boarding groups. Again, don’t expect to have overhead storage bin on many flights.

All remaining customers

If you somehow did not fall into any of the above groups such as an unaccompanied minor arriving late you will then board last.

H/T: Flyertalk

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JetBlue boarding area

When do you need to board the plane?

Your exact boarding time is usually dictated by two things: 1) your destination and 2) your aircraft.

The best advice for arriving at the proper time to board is to first see what boarding time is listed on your boarding pass whenever you check in and/or arrive at the airport.

You still need to be diligent about your boarding time even after your boarding time is printed on your boarding pass though.

The reason is that your boarding time could potentially change (and even your gate of departure could also change).

So it is best to double check your boarding times with the schedules available in the airport or with an airport agent.

Still, JetBlue does provide some general guidance for boarding.

For domestic flights each customer must board the aircraft at least 15 minutes prior to departure.

For international flights, each customer must board the aircraft at least 20 minutes prior to departure.

Note: In the event you had a connecting flight on the same itinerary that was late, it’s possible that the flight attendant could delay boarding in order to give you enough time to make it to the plane.

Related: SSSS on Boarding Pass? What Does It Mean & How to Avoid It!

Different boarding areas

On occasion, it’s possible that you won’t be boarding in a JetBlue boarding area.

This is the case when JetBlue uses another airline’s boarding area such as a boarding gate for British Airways. The boarding process will remain the same although you won’t have the same types of signage to follow.

In these cases, just listen carefully to when your boarding group is called and where they want you to line up since it won’t be quite as clear.

British airways boarding area
A British Airways boarding area used for JetBlue.

Boarding together on JetBlue

If you are traveling as a group you probably are interested in also boarding together as a group.

If you want to make sure that you will be boarding with other passengers make sure that you are on the same reservation AND that you check in together.

If you are on the same reservation and check in separately you will not be guaranteed to be in the same boarding group. This even applies to Mosaic members.

In the event that you fail to check in together I would contact an agent and see if they can get you in the same boarding group but it may not be possible.

Related: JetBlue Airways Baggage Fees Guide

JetBlue Boarding FAQ

What are the JetBlue boarding groups?

Pre-Boarding for customers with disabilities
Mosaic and Mint customers
Even More Space customers (Group A)
Courtesy Boarding
Group B
Group C
Group D
Group E
Group F
All remaining customers

How many boarding groups does JetBlue have?

There are a total of nine JetBlue boarding groups.

What boarding group will I get if I have a window seat?

You will often get one of the earlier boarding groups such as Group B or Group C but it also depends on where you are located in the plane (back or front).

What boarding group will I get if I have an aisle seat?

You will often get one of the later boarding groups such as Group D but it also depends on where you are located in the plane (back or front).

Will I get to board with my friends and family?

If you are on the same reservation and you also check-in together you should be able to board together.

When do unaccompanied minors board?

Unaccompanied minors will board during pre-boarding unless they arrive later. In that case, they may be the last to board.

What is the latest I can board the plane?

For domestic flights you can board at least 15 minutes prior to departure and for international flights, you must board at least 20 minutes prior to departure.

Final word

As you can probably tell, the boarding policy and boarding groups for JetBlue are pretty straightforward. They allow for pre-boarding and give priority to premium customers at the front and then board according to where people are situated in the plane.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class Guide [2023]

Hawaii is a bucket list destination but one way to make your trip even more memorable is to fly first class.

But is it really worth it to fly first class on Hawaiian Airlines and what can you expect?

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about flying Hawaiian Airlines First Class. I’ll break down the different aircraft you might fly on whether you are flying from the mainland or between Hawaiian islands.

In addition to showing you the product, I’ll also talk about both cash prices and award prices so that you’ll have a good idea of what to expect when it’s time to make your booking.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class Aircraft

When you’re flying Hawaiian Airlines first class, you can expect to be flying in one of the following aircraft:

  • Airbus A321neo
  • Airbus A330-200
  • Boeing 717-200

Beginning in 2023, you might also be able to fly on the Boeing 787-9. Those will have an entirely new seat including window seats with direct aisle access!

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Mainland first class product

If you’re flying between the Hawaiian islands and the mainland you’ll be flying on an Airbus A321neo or Airbus A330-200. Let’s take a look at each of those aircraft to see what they have to offer.

Airbus A321neo

The Airbus A321neo is going to be found on some of the routes between Hawaii and the western continental United States. For example, the A321 might serve a flight from Oakland to Honolulu or from Las Vegas to Honolulu.

The A321 is the only cabin I have not personally flown (with Hawaiian Airlines) but it looks like a pretty aesthetically pleasing (yet basic) first class cabin.

They have some interesting touches like foot rests and a compartment for water bottles but for the most part it looks like a pretty standard domestic first class cabin.

The biggest thing to note about the Airbus A321neo is that you don’t get the lie flat seats. Instead, you get the standard recliner seats with 39 inches of pitch in a 2-2 cabin with 16 seats.

Also, you won’t find seatback TVs and will be issued a tablet which is smaller than the one given on the A330.

Airbus A330-200

The Airbus A330-200 is the main first class product that people actually get excited about. You’ll find this aircraft on all of the long-haul flights between Hawaii and states like Florida, Massachusetts, New York, etc.

But this aircraft will also serve some destinations on the West Coast including states like California and Washington.

You can check out my full review of my Hawaiian Airlines First Class experience flying between Honolulu and Phoenix.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class seats

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the flight especially the service.

But the hard product was not bad either.

The A330 has fully lie-flat seats which is very nice when crossing the Pacific but there are a couple of potential shortcomings.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class seats

First, the first class cabin is arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration with a total of 18 seats

This means that if you have a window seat you will not have direct aisle access. If you’re flying as a couple then this is not a big deal at all.

But if you are sharing a row with a stranger than it is more of an issue.

The other thing that might surprise you is that there are no TV screens in first class. It’s pretty rare to find fully lie-flat seats with no TV screens.

In place of screens, Hawaiian Airlines provides tablets for your entertainment.

The tablets are pretty big and there is a stand that pops out allowing you to easily stand up the tablet for viewing.

Initially, I was a little turned off by using a tablet but I found that it was a pretty decent in-flight experience.

The only real drawback is that you have to wait for it to be distributed to you and they take it prior to landing so it cuts down on your viewing time a little bit.

I also found the dining to be a fairly solid first class experience.

It did not blow me away like some international airlines would such as Singapore Airlines but I also did not expect it to be on par with the best of the best. Instead, it was more in line with a pretty solid domestic first class meal.

Hawaiian Airlines First Class dining
Hawaiian Airlines First Class dining
Hawaiian Airlines First Class dining

Inter-island first class product

When flying first class between islands, you’ll likely be on the Boeing 717-200.

The first class cabin is pretty small on this aircraft and you can read about our flight experience flying between Honolulu and Lihue.

The inter-island first class experience is going to be very similar to a domestic first class flight. You’ll have a standard recliner seat and the seats are arranged in a 2-2 configuration.

I did find the reclining feature to be a little bit different than most domestic first class seats. It’s hard to explain and it’s a pretty subtle difference but it’s almost as if the entire seat is shifting versus just the back of the seat.

Obviously, these flights are going to be very short usually ranging from about 30 minutes to 45 minutes. A lot of people question whether first class is worth it for such a short flight.

Personally, I thought it was well worth it to fly first class for a few reasons.

Most of all, whenever I factored in the baggage fees we would be paying with an economy seat, I realized that booking a first class ticket would essentially be a break even point since you get two free checked bags as a first class passenger.

That was more than enough reason to book first class since we’d also be getting things like priority boarding, lounge access, and free drinks.

Speaking of free drinks, I was surprised that they even served drinks on such a short flight. This goes back to the great service we experienced one flying first class with Hawaiian Airlines.

Read: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort Review

One thing to keep in mind is that the economy cabin is arranged in a 3-2 configuration.

Therefore, if you’re just looking to have a row to yourself or with just you and your partner, you can still get that in economy by choosing a row with only two seats.

Just keep in mind that those seats tend to get selected first so if you want to choose a row with only two seats be sure to do that as far in advance as possible.

Related: Hawaiian Airlines Boarding Groups & Process Explained

Hawaiian Airlines First class lounges

If you love to spend time in airport lounges, you might be a little bit disappointed when flying out of Hawaii because your first class ticket will not provide you with access to any amazing airport lounge.

If you’re flying between Hawaii and North America (West Coast) or between Neighbor Islands in First Class, you’ll get access to the Premier Club, which is a very, very basic airport lounge.

If you’re flying between Hawaii and New York, Boston, or Orlando, you’ll get Plumeria Lounge Access. This is a much more equipped airport lounge but still on par with a standard Priority Pass lounge.

In fact, it actually is a Priority Pass lounge so if you are limited to access to the Premier Club but you have Priority Pass you definitely want to head to the the Plumeria Lounge.

Related: Which Lounge at HNL: Premier Club or Plumeria Lounge for Hawaiian Airlines?

Hawaiian Airlines mainland first class routes and prices

Now let’s talk about prices.

I think the first thing that I thought was notable was that the prices for the lie-flat A330 cabin can be just as expensive or cheaper than the A321 which has the standard recliner seats.

This is very different from when I was researching American Airlines first class prices since most of the time the standard recliner cabins are significantly cheaper than the wide-body cabins with life-flat seats.

Also, as you probably would imagine Hawaiian Airlines First Class prices get much more expensive when you are flying between Hawaii and the East Coast.

For example, when flying between the West Coast and Hawaii it’s not very difficult to find a first class ticket for around $1,000 and usually the most expensive tickets were still under $1,500 for the most part.

But when looking at prices to East Coast destinations such as Orlando and Boston, the first class prices went up quite a bit. For the most part I was seeing prices around $2,000 to $3,000.

Award tickets

If you’re looking to book an award ticket with Hawaiian Airlines miles, you’ll find different prices for different regions. They have different prices for the West Coast, Central US, and East Coast.

The cheapest first class awards go for 40,000 miles and that rate applies to all regions of the US. That award can offer you exceptional value especially when flying from the East Coast.

The problem is I really struggled to find awards for 40,000 miles. I searched for lots of routes and throughout different months and when I did find open awards it was only for one seat.

So while 40,000 miles can definitely be a bargain you might find it challenging to find a booking opportunity especially if you were looking for more than one seat.

On the other hand, the more expensive awards range from 80,000 miles to 130,000 miles. These prices are much less of a bargain but in my experience it was very easy to find open awards.

West Coast

First ClassAward Amount
First Class 140,000
First Class 280,000
Upgrade 125,000
Upgrade 250,000


First ClassAward Amount
First Class 140,000
First Class 2110,000
Upgrade 125,000
Upgrade 250,000

East Coast

First ClassAward Amount
First Class 140,000
First Class 2130,000
Upgrade 125,000
Upgrade 250,000

You can always refer to partners to book Hawaiian Airlines flights and those may offer better deals. For example, booking Hawaiian Airlines with Virgin Atlantic Miles could offer a sweeter deal.

However, when I called Virgin Atlantic to search for open awards that I found on Hawaiian Airlines they struggled to find those same open seats so you might run into some award inventory issues.

Now that you have an idea of the award prices, let’s take a look at the cash prices from various Hawaiian Airlines routes within the continental US.

Note that we searched for prices a couple of months out and picked a random day to get out quick view of what the prices might be like.

If there was more than one price, we listed the range of the prices for that day.


Phoenix (PHX) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,861


Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $845 to $1,314

Los Angeles (LAX) to Kahului (OGG) [A330]

  • $970

Oakland (OAK) to Honolulu (HNL) [A321]

  • $1,418

Oakland (OAK) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,442

Sacramento (SMF) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,713

Sacramento (SMF) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,413

San Diego (SAN) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,015

San Diego (SAN) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,851

San Francisco (SFO) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $899

San Francisco (SFO) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,428

San Jose (SJC) to Honolulu (HNL) [A321]

  • $1,341

San Jose (SJC) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,318


Orlando (MCO) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $2,071


Boston (BOS) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $3,489

New York

New York City (JFK) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $3,489


Las Vegas (LAS) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,209 to $1,219

Las Vegas (LAS) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,536


Portland (PDX) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,021

Portland (PDX) to Kahului (OGG) [A321]

  • $1,850


Austin (AUS) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,608


Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) to Honolulu (HNL) [A330]

  • $1,764

Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) to Kahului (OGG) [A330]

  • $1,769

Hawaiian Airlines inter-island first class routes and prices

If you’re wanting to book an award flight for an inter-island route here are the prices for first class:

First ClassAward Amount
First Class 115,000
First Class 230,000
Upgrade 17,500
Upgrade 215,000

Paying 15,000 miles for an inter-island first class flight might be getting you somewhere around one cent per mile which is not too great. In some cases, the higher fares could get you closer to 1.5 or two cents per mile which is much better.

But personally, I would just be looking to pay cash for these flights because they can be so cheap.

Also, I would not consider 30,000 miles for an inter-island first class flight to be a good deal in the vast majority of cases.

Related: Flying Southwest Inter-island in Hawaii? Here’s What to Expect


Hilo (ITO) to Kahului (OGG) [Boeing 717]

  • $159

Hilo (ITO) to Honolulu (HNL) [Boeing 717]

  • $143

Kona (KOA) to Kahului (OGG) [Boeing 717]

  • $137 to $210

Kona (KOA) to Honolulu (HNL) [Boeing 717]

  • $143

Kona (KOA) to Lihue (LIH) [Boeing 717]

  • $159


Kahului (OGG) to Honolulu (HNL) [Boeing 717]

  • $143

Kahului (OGG) to Lihue (LIH) [Boeing 717]

  • $159 to $294


Honolulu (HNL) to Lihue (LIH) [Boeing 717]

  • $143

Final word

Personally, I’m a pretty big fan of flying first class on Hawaiian Airlines.

Above everything else, I was impressed by the level of service from the crew members during all of our first class flights. While the in-flight entertainment is non-traditional it’s still not a bad experience in my opinion.

I would just make a few notes about booking Hawaiian Airlines First Class:

It’s odd that the A321 can be just as expensive or even more expensive than the A330 considering that it only offers standard recliner seats versus the fully lie flat seats.

First class awards for 40,000 miles are an absolute bargain especially from the East Coast but can be extremely difficult to find.

American Airlines Domestic First Class Ultimate Guide [2023]

American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world and you might be wondering about what the first class experience is like on a domestic flight in the US.

Most of my domestic first class experiences have been on United but I have had a few on American and I thought it would be helpful to put together an article that covers everything you need to know about American Airlines domestic first class.

What is domestic first class on American Airlines?

Domestic first class on American Airlines is the top premium cabin offered on domestic flights within the US. It is also often the same product offered to other nearby international destinations, such as Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Domestic first class on American Airlines typically comes in a two class cabin configuration (first class + economy) but there’s also something called “Flagship First,” which is a three cabin configuration (first class + business class + economy).

The most common type of domestic first class seating is the standard recliner seat, which you will be able to find from many destinations and on aircraft like the 737-800.

When flying domestically this is called “business/first” or just “first” but when flying on shorter international flights it is called “business.” When people refer to “domestic first class” this is typically what they mean.

But you can also fly on lie-flat seats when flying in first class on domestic routes.

First class cabins with lie flat seats are also usually only flown on select routes from hubs but these can be on many different types of aircraft (I will break down these in more detail below). In some cases, these will be known as “Flagship Business.”

Three class cabins with a first class and business class cabin are only flown on a couple of premium transcontinental routes in the US and on aircraft like the A321T or 777-300ER. This is known as “Flagship First.”

Don’t Miss out! Find out which American Airlines credit card can set you up with a big bonus, lounge access, free checked bags, and a short-cut to AAdvantage elite status! Read more here!

Pricing in miles

If you want to use miles to book a domestic first class flight on American Airlines, it’s going to cost you 25,000 miles one-way for a MileSAAver award.

Tip: It’s possible to find web special awards lower than 25,000 miles one way.

If the award includes travel on an aircraft that offers lie-flat seats in the U.S. and Canada, the Business/First levels will be 7,500 miles higher.

If you are redeeming on the three class cabin such as the Flagship First on the A321T, you will be shelling out 50,000 miles for a one-way flight.

For more information about how to maximize your American Airlines miles be sure to check out our top uses of AA miles.

Aircraft & Routes

There are quite a few different aircraft that you can fly on when it comes to American Airlines domestic first class.

And these aircraft have different seats so it’s a good idea to do some research to find what type of aircraft you would prefer to fly on. (Google Flights is an easy way to do this.)

The most common aircraft operated by American Airlines is the 737-800 so that is the most likely aircraft you will be flying on.

That aircraft has a standard reclining first class seat and will have four rows of first class.

Two first class seats
American Airlines first class seats on a 737.

The A321-200 and A319-100 are two other very common aircraft that American Airlines uses, and you will probably see them pop up in your searches. The seats will be pretty standard and you will likely encounter four or five rows of first class.

While narrow-body aircraft will be the most common you will encounter with American Airlines, due to different scheduling policies, you can also get wide-body planes on domestic routes sometimes.

If you are trying to fly on a lie-flat seat then consider booking a flight on one of the following aircraft:

  • 777-300ER
  • 777-200
  • 787-9
  • 787-8
  • A321T
  • A330-200
Lie flat on the 777-200.

In the past, you may have also looked for fully lie flat seats on the 757, 767, and A330–300. However, many/all of those aircraft have recently been retired, so I’m not sure it will be possible to fly first class on them in the future.

Typically, you will have your best luck finding these wide-body planes flying between premium routes or across the country from AA hub to AA hub.

Routes to consider include the following:

  • DFW — MIA
  • DFW — HNL
  • DFW — LAX
  • DFW — OGG
  • DFW — ORD
  • JFK — LAX
  • JFK — SFO
  • MIA — LAX

Some of these wide-body aircraft will feature some of the top business class seats like the 777-300ER which offers the Zodiac and the 787-9 which offers the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat.

The first class perks

If you choose to fly first class on a domestic flight with American Airlines, you can expect to receive a number of perks.

Priority check-in

When you show up to the airport, you’ll be able to check-in at a desk that is separate from the standard check-in desk.

Look for the sign that states “Priority” as shown below and that is where you will be able to check-in and check your baggage.

Passengers who can use this priority check-in area include:

  1. First, Business, and Premium Economy passengers
  2. AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, Platinum and Gold members
  3. AirPass travelers
  4. oneworld Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby members
  5. Citi AAdvantage Executive cardholders
  6. Eligible corporate travelers
Priority check-in area for first class passengers at airport
Priority check-in area for first class passengers.

Priority security

You will be allowed to enter the priority security line which will offer an expedited security waiting time in many cases.

Personally, I just choose to jump in to the TSA Pre-Check line and you might even want to jump ahead to CLEAR if you have it.

With TSA Pre-Check you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Shoes can stay on
  • Belt can stay on
  • Light jackets can stay on
  • Laptops allowed to stay in bag
  • Liquids (3-1-1 Rule) can stay in bag

Checked baggage benefits

When flying on first class domestically, you’ll be offered two free checked bags. What’s more, these bags can weigh up to 70 pounds.

The typical checked baggage fees for American Airlines are $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second bag so you’re looking at saving at least $70 whenever you check two bags.

Keep in mind that you can also get free checked baggage on domestic flights with the Citi Platinum Select Card.


American Airlines lounges are known as Admirals Clubs. These are pretty standard airport lounges that offer comfortable places to relax along with light snacks, free drinks, and free Wi-Fi. You can also choose to purchase certain meal items and premium alcoholic beverages.

Related: Admirals Club Houston IAH (Terminal A) Review

Many domestic first class passengers wonder whether or not they will have lounge access.

In most cases, you will not get airport lounge access when flying domestic first class with American Airlines. Typically, you will need to be flying internationally to get access.

If you are flying domestically, you can get lounge access if you are flying on certain premium routes like the following:

  • New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)
  • JFK and San Francisco (SFO)

Note that if you are flying between other premium routes, you will only get lounge access if you are flying on the right type of aircraft.

  • LAX and Boston (BOS) – traveling on A321T aircraft only
  • LAX and Miami (MIA) – traveling on Boeing 777-300 aircraft only

Of course, if you want lounge access you can always purchase it by getting a day pass or by purchasing an annual membership.

Tip: The annual fee for the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard is only $450 so if you get approved for that card you can save a lot of money on your membership.

Sitting area at American Airlines Admirals Club Houston IAH
American Airlines Admirals Club Houston (IAH).

Priority boarding

When flying domestic first class, you will board with “Group One,” so you will be boarding directly after pre-boarding.

You will see a sign near your departure gate that clearly indicates where to line up. When it is time to board, you will line up on the left side which is designated for priority groups and consists of groups one through four.

Tip: If for some reason you show up late to boarding, you can bypass the line at any time by heading through the left side.

To find out more about how the American Airlines boarding process works, click here.

Boarding sign showing priority groups on left and main groups on right.
Boarding sign for American Airlines.

The flight experience

Below, I will walk you through some of the features of flying first class on an American Airlines 737 since that is such a common aircraft.


You will be among the first to board the plane so you will easily make your way to your seat at the front. You should have no issue with overhead storage bin space as there are compartments reserve specifically for first class passengers.

American Airlines first class overhead storage bin space.

Once you get settled in your seat, you may be offered a drink which includes complimentary alcoholic beverages.

You may also be brought out a hot towel at some point and your seat may already have a (very thin) blanket and headphones that may be sponsored by Avis.

Freshen up with a hot towel in first class.

The cabin

The first class cabin is located in the front of the plane and you will also have access to the first class lavatory.

The number of first class seats in the first class cabin and the configuration all depends on the type of aircraft you’re flying on.

A standard 737 or similar will have a 2-2 configuration and may have four or five rows of first class seats. A smaller aircraft may only have two rows of first class like the A319 or even a 1-2 configuration.

American Airlines first class on the Airbus A319.

The seat

The typical domestic first class seat is going to be a traditional reclining seat and not a lie flat seat.

You will have much more legroom than you would in economy.

You can expect the pitch to be around 40 inches to 42 inches compared to economy which is around 31 inches. (It’s worth noting that you can get some pretty decent legroom of around 34+ inches with Main Cabin Extra.)

American Airlines first class seat showing legroom.
Enjoy extra legroom on American Airlines first class.

The seat will also be wider and more comfortable. For the width, you’re looking at over 20 inches versus an economy seat which is closer to 17 inches.

There typically is a neck support that you can mold to your liking.

Folded neck support on first class seat
First class seat neck support.

Your main tray table will usually pop out of your armrest on an aircraft like a 737. It’s pretty spacious and can function as a workstation as well.

In addition to your main tray table, there will also be multiple cocktail trays that can be pulled out.

You may be able to pull out these cocktail trays from the front/side of your seat.

Bloody Mary on seat cocktail tray.
The drink trays are a great use of space.

There may also be a tray that folds down from in front of you.

Back of the seat drink tray.

Also, you may or may not have an in-flight entertainment screen built in the seat in front of you.

If you don’t have a screen right in front of you, there may be a larger screen at the front of the cabin or you may just be expected to stream entertainment via a mobile device/laptop.

You should be given instructions on how to set up your entertainment on your own device.

Instructions on how to connect in-flight entertainment.
Many aircraft require you to connect your own device for entertainment.
Back of American Airlines first class seat.
Not all first class seats have monitors in the back.

You should have access to power outlets but you may not on all aircraft. On a narrow body like a 737, look for the outlets in the middle between the seats.

It’s worth pointing out that there are new American Airlines first class seats for domestic flights. The cabin has more noticeable privacy partitions, better seat cushions, more underseat storage, 5-volt USB ports, and they even added phone/tablet holders.

Dining and drinks

Went flying first class domestically, you’ll be offered complimentary alcohol and food, depending on the length of the flight and the time of your flight.

Here is what you can generally expect:

  • Flights under 700 miles: Light snacks (fig bar, cookies, and/or pretzels)
  • Flights between 700 and 899 miles: Warm mixed nuts and a plated snack (fruit/cheese, pita/hummus, or spinach dip/pita). A small dessert may be offered.
  • Flights between 900 and 1,298 miles: Warm mixed nuts and a three course meal. A small dessert maybe offered.
  • Flights between 1,299 and 2,199 miles: An appetizer with your entree and dessert. You might receive cake for lunch desserts and ice-cream for dinner desserts.
  • Flights over 2,200 miles: The above plus you’ll receive a choice of dessert. You might receive made-to-order sundaes or a cheese plate for both lunch and dinner desserts.

Tip: No meals are offered between 1:30pm and 4pm on flights under 900 miles.

There are some flights under 900 miles that will receive a more extensive meal service. These include flights on the following routes:

  • Dallas (DFW) – BJX/ORD/MEX/QRO/SLP
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – PAP
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – DEN
  • Miami (MIA) – DCA/IAD/PAP
  • New York (LGA) – ATL
  • Phoenix (PHX) – MZT

When flying on premium transcontinental routes such as between JFK and LAX/SFO or MIA-LAX you can expect an upgraded dining experience.

For example, you might be offered three meal choices, better service, printed menus, tablecloth linens, etc.

If you are flying on a smaller regional jet you can expect the following meal offerings:

  • Up to 175 miles: A light snack mix along with beverage service
  • 176-899 miles: Snack basket
  • 900-2199 miles: Warm mixed nuts, two meal options, and dessert.

If your flight has scheduled meal service, you can pre-order your meals starting 30 days before your flight and up to 24 hours before departure.

H/T: Flyertalk

To give you a sense of what to expect on a shorter flight of around 2 hours I’ve broken down the meal experience below.

Initially, you may find a nice little refreshing mint waiting on your seat.

Packaged peppermint.
First class mint.

As things get closer towards meal service, you may be brought some warm mixed nuts to hold you over. Note that you may not get these for early morning flights.

Bowl of mixed nuts.
Warm mixed nuts.

On the handful of times that I have flown American Airlines, I did not think that the food was too bad.

I’ve enjoyed the dishes like ravioli, lasagna, salad, and some fantastic desserts. Typically, you will be offered a vegetarian dish and a meat dish.

Meal on tray table
American Airlines first class meal.
Plate with piece of bread
American Airlines first class bread.
Plate with a piece of cake.
American Airlines first class dessert.

Sometime after your meal service or just any time during the flight, you may be offered additional snacks. In some cases, they may bring around a basket of snacks and allow you to select whatever appeals to you.

Bag of chocolate chip cookies.
First class snacks on American Airlines.

American Airlines domestic first class FAQ

How many miles do I need to book American Airlines domestic first class?

For a standard domestic first class MileSAAver award, prices will begin at 25,000 miles.

If you are flying on a lie-flat seat you will have to pay an additional 7,500 miles.

If you are flying on Flagship First, prices start at 50,000 miles one way.

How can you get lie flat seats in American Airlines domestic first class?

You can get lie flat seats by selecting the right type of aircraft on a specific type of route.

These include the following aircraft:

  • 777-300ER
  • 777-200
  • 787-9
  • 787-8
  • A321T
  • A330-200

And these aircraft can sometimes be found on the following routes:

  • DFW — MIA
  • DFW — HNL
  • DFW — LAX
  • DFW — OGG
  • DFW — ORD
  • JFK — LAX
  • JFK — SFO
  • MIA — LAX

Do you get free checked baggage when flying American Airlines domestic first class?

Yes, you will receive two free checked bags.

Do you always get a meal on American Airlines domestic first class?

No, you will only receive a meal if your flight is a certain distance or route. If your flight is over 900 miles, you can expect a meal although some routes offer meals on flights shorter than that.

Do you get lounge access with American Airlines domestic first class?

No, you normally will not get lounge access. However, if you’re flying on a premium route such as from New York to Los Angeles, you will get access to a lounge.

Do you get priority boarding with American Airlines domestic first class?

Yes, you will be able to board with Group 1.

Do all first class seats have TV monitors?

No, unfortunately some first class seats will not have TV monitors installed for in-flight entertainment.

Can unaccompanied minors travel in first class?

Yes, unaccompanied minors may travel in first class.

Final word

As you can see, there are a lot of details regarding the American Airlines domestic first class experience. There are quite a few different products out there and they come with different features and special offerings.

Can You Change the Name on a Plane Ticket? [2023]

Did you make a typo or error when inputting your name in your airline ticket reservation? Or are you trying to completely change the name on the ticket that you purchased to someone else? In either case, you’d likely need to request a name correction or name change.

This can be a slightly confusing process because there are very different restrictions for each but in this article I will break it all down and explain how this can be done, sometimes even for free.

Can you change the name on a plane ticket?

Yes, assuming there is sufficient time before departure you may be able to make a name correction or name change.

Name corrections involve simple changes such as fixing one letter and are generally free.

However, for major name changes many airlines will force you pay a pretty hefty fee. Keep reading below to find out how this process works and for some helpful tips on how to deal with the situation!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Why can’t you change your name on a plane ticket?

There are two major reasons why you are not allowed to freely change your name on a plane ticket without approval or fees from the airline.

Security reasons

Changing your name on a plane ticket can present major security issues.

When you purchase a plane ticket, you can expect your name to be ran through a database to make sure you are not on a no-fly list.

This could be a no-fly list ran by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) or the individual airline. Either way, airlines need to know that when you board the plane your background has been checked.

If you could change your name at will this could make it much more difficult for the background checks to be done properly, since they would be continually getting updated.

Aftermarket concerns

If passengers could freely change the name on a boarding pass they would essentially become transferrable and you could imagine a secondary market emerging for airline tickets.

People could buy airline tickets far in advance for holidays or peak seasons for routes heading to tourist hotspots like Orlando.

They could then sell those tickets for sky-high prices similar to the way people do it for concerts, sporting events, etc.

This could make it more difficult to find tickets and introduce uncertainty when dealing with shady aftermarket vendors. It also removes a lot of price control power from the airlines.

Airlines don’t let you transfer your boarding pass to just anybody.

How to change the name on a plane ticket

There are basically three different types of name changes that take place and the process for each is different.

Minor name corrections

When a change is being made to fix a spelling mistake or typo and ensure that the name matches a government-issued ID, this is typically considered a “name correction” or “minor name correction” and NOT a name change.

Examples of minor name corrections could include:

  • First names (Jon to Jonathon)
  • Last names (3 letters or fewer)
  • Adding/removing middle name
  • Changing initial to full name
  • Nickname to legal name (“Bob” to “Robert”)
  • Adding an additional last name (hyphenated last name)
  • Inverted first and last name
  • Suffix and prefix changes

If you find yourself needing to correct the name, contact the customer service phone number for your airline as soon as you can and let them know that you need to make a minor correction to the name (not a change).

Some airlines request that you make this known to the airline at least one week prior to your trip.

If you have a travel agent simply let them know and they may be able to make the change for you and without any penalty.

But if you don’t realize the error until you arrive at the airport, some airlines will still allow you to make the change there.

Sometimes a minor name correction may have a limit on the characters that can be changed such as three letters.

This is especially true if you are correcting the last name (shorter last names may be limited to changes of only two characters).

It depends on the airline and perhaps even the discretion of the agent you are dealing with but you can pretty much rest assured that if you need to simply correct one or two letters of a misspelled name, it will be considered a minor name correction.

Most airlines should allow you to make minor name corrections for free.

This is the case even for some budget airlines as Spirit states: “Reservations with slight misspellings or legal name changes are eligible for a free name change.”

Here are a few more things to keep in mind about minor name corrections:

  • If you need to make multiple minor name corrections, airlines will usually consider that a major change and begin charging you to process the change.
  • If you need to make changes to the gender and/or date of birth as well as the name, that will also often be considered a major name change.
  • If your itinerary involves flights on codeshares or partner airlines, making a minor name correction could be more difficult

And finally, sometimes for whatever reason the airline cannot make a change to the error on your boarding pass.

This recently happened to us when flying through Alaska when Brad’s middle initial was displayed as the last letter on his first name. “BradleyK.”

We contacted the airline and they told us that his name was showing up properly in the system that TSA uses so it would not be a problem.

However, his boarding pass still had the typo “BradleyK” when printed.

So in some cases you may not be able to fix the error on your boarding pass but it apparently doesn’t matter because as long as it is correct in the airline’s system, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Indeed, we got through TSA just fine.

Major name change

Now let’s say that you need to change the name on your boarding pass from John Doe to Sarah Sally.

This is referred to as a “major name change” and is often possible but it can be a very expensive endeavor. The reason?

This type of change will involve fees which could include:

  • Name change fee
  • Difference in fare from the time you booked to the current date
  • Possible change fee

In some cases the fees can total up to several hundred dollars pretty easily.

So your best bet is to try to avoid this approach as much as possible or be prepared to shell out a lot of cash.

Tip: If you realize your mistake within 24 hours of booking your ticket you should be able to cancel the ticket without any penalty.

If you are not allowed to make a major name change then your only real option is to purchase a new airline ticket (assuming that you can find availability).

Assuming your ticket was nonrefundable, you may be able to get a flight credit for your original ticket.

Make sure you take note of the expiration time for it because these flight credits/travel funds usually expire within one year.

Sometimes you can change the name on the flight credit but other times you cannot.

If you need to change your name because your legal name changed due to things like marriage, divorce, adoption, etc. every airline should be willing to work with you so long as there is enough time before takeoff.

Airlines may allow you to make a name change based on a legal name change for free provided that you submit the necessary documentation.

Possible documentation needed could include:

  • Marriage License
  • Court Order
  • Divorce Decree
  • Or Legal Name Change Document

Some airlines will have a dedicated webpage for you to submit this information and attach copies of your documents and in other cases you may just need to email them at a specific email address.

As you can imagine this process will take a little bit of time so it is best to make your submission as soon as possible.

However, based on the DOT Fly Rights it seems you could show up at the airport with your documentation and be fine as is states:

If your name has recently changed and the name on your ticket and your I.D. are different (or will be different by the time of your trip), bring documentation of the change (e.g., a marriage certificate or court order).

Just be sure to give yourself extra time for the verification process.

Name matching issues

Middle names

Sometimes (as shown above) middle names can be a problem.

In some cases, due to glitches your middle name might appear as part of your first name or simply an initial in front of your first name.

If an airline is familiar with this glitch they should be able to recognize it and allow you to proceed with a minor name correction.

In other cases there are issues were a middle initial is used in one case but the full middle name is used in another.

This should be okay in a lot of instances but my advice is to always be consistent with the use of your middle name. This is especially true for international travel.

Non-ascii characters

If your name has non-ascii characters, and you are trying to make sure that it matches with your passport you can check the name on the bottom of the main passport page and go with that.

This will be located in the red rectangle found in this image here.


Sometimes you might encounter routes where name changes are not permitted.

For example, as of the summer of 2021 Delta does not allow changes on international flights between the US and China.

Other times, there may be special policies in place to deal with name changes on certain routes.

In these cases you may have to call a special phone number and speak with an agent and the name change process may not be as smooth, even for minor name corrections.


If you run into an issue where your name is not accepted and you need to modify or change the name there’s a good chance you will not be issued a refund.

Why can’t you get your money back?

Typically, a refund is only granted by the airline if they were at fault. For example, if they have staff shortages that lead to a significant delay in your flight, it’s possible that you could receive a refund.

In the case of needing a name correction or name change, you are the party who filled out the identification information and therefore you are the party at fault.

When you proceed through the booking process, airlines usually make it very clear that your name you fill out needs to match exactly what your government issued ID shows.

For example, here is the warning from United Airlines.

This is key because it means that if you input a name during the booking process that does not match your ID, the mistake is on you and not the airline.

That doesn’t mean that you will never get a refund but it is just going to be more of the exception and not the norm.

This is one reason why it helps to fill out your frequent flyer profile and save your account information.

This will prevent you from needing to input your name each time you book a flight with that airline and thus decrease the odds of an error happening.

Getting through TSA security checkpoint

Whenever you head through the TSA security checkpoint a TSA agent will be screening your ID to make sure that it matches your boarding pass.

This is why you need to handle your name change request as soon as you can.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, TSA agents usually do not scan your ID which is one reason why people with outstanding warrants are often allowed to get through security.

On one occasion I was actually allowed to get through security with a boarding pass that did not match my name!

I made it through the TSA Pre-Check line and realized that I had a boarding pass with Brad’s name on it. I told the agent that my husband had my boarding pass and the agent allowed me to get through security.

It turns out that actually Brad somehow had a duplicate of his own boarding pass so I actually made it through TSA security without having any boarding pass with my name on it.

But you don’t want to rely on blind luck like that and instead you should just take care of your name change needs.

Related: Can You Get Through TSA and Fly with No ID?

Final word

Changing your name for a plane reservation can be a simple process if you are only fixing a typo, have the necessary documentation needed, and you give yourself plenty of time before departure.

Things get pricey when you need to make a major name change and everything can get a lot more complicated if you are trying to sort this out just before departure. So do your best to take care of everything in advance.

Can You Make A Phone Call From A Plane? [2023]

Did you know that it is possible to make a phone call from 30,000+ feet up in the sky? I know this is the case because I recently attended a conference call while on a plane.

Placing a phone call from the plane can be tricky though because you have certain legal obstacles to avoid and also airline policies to consider.

In this article, I’ll break down how exactly it works and I’ll give you some helpful tips on how to make a phone call on your next plane ride.

Can you make a phone call from a plane?

Yes, it is possible to make a phone call from a plane via Wi-Fi but you need to consider that some airlines prohibit voice calls and such calls can be annoying to other passengers. If you’d like to make a phone call from a plane, keep reading below to find out how.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Is it okay to make a call on a plane?

Just because you can technically make a phone call from a plane does not mean that you should. Here are a few things to consider.

The law

According to 47 CFR § 22.925, the FCC does not allow you to operate a cell phone while airborne.

Cellular telephones installed in or carried aboard airplanes, balloons or any other type of aircraft must not be operated while such aircraft are airborne (not touching the ground). When any aircraft leaves the ground, all cellular telephones on board that aircraft must be turned off.

This makes it sound like your cell phone would have to be completely powered off but further guidance from the FAA makes it clear that when in the air, “airplane mode” is an acceptable option for your personal electronic device (PED) aka cell phone.

While airborne, operators should instruct passengers to turn off cellular telephones, disable a PED’s cellular transmitting functions, or place PEDs in airplane mode that have cellular or mobile telephony capabilities

So it’s super important to remember: by law you can’t use your phone to make a phone call via cellular data when flying on a plane because your cell phone can only remain in airplane mode (which disables cellular data).

Why exactly do you have to put your phone in airplane mode?

This is required for two reasons.

  • Signals from your cell phone could interfere with flight communication equipment (there is very mixed opinions on this)
  • The cell signals from hundreds of passengers could disrupt service on cell phone towers down on the ground

Having your phone in airplane mode means you can’t use cellular data but you CAN still utilize Wi-Fi.

As explained below, Wi-Fi is all that you may need to make a phone call from a plane but there are still some additional considerations to think about before doing so.

Using phone on airplane

Airline policies

In the US it’s likely that the airline you’re flying on has a policy that prohibits you from making a voice phone call.

For example, back in 2013 Delta made it clear that they do not want passengers making phone calls. United Airlines and American Airlines are also on record stating they don’t allow voice calls, along with JetBlue.

But note: some airlines like JSX may allow you to make these calls in the future.

One of the biggest reasons why you typically would not want to make a phone call is because it could annoy other passengers.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who don’t realize how loud they are on the phone or simply don’t care how loud they are.

There is nothing worse than being stuck by someone who is just going on and on during a phone call with no regard for the annoyance he or she is causing other passengers.

If you are able to talk quietly or whisper, this might not be an issue but it is not an easy task for a lot of people.

And once again, if the airline outlaws phone calls it doesn’t matter how quiet your phone voice is, you’d be violating their policy by talking on the phone.

Airplane passenger talking on phone

The future of phone calls

The FCC has thought about allowing passengers to make phone calls above 10,000 feet in the past but that hasn’t gained traction.

Considering how instances of unruly passengers have increased dramatically since the outbreak of coronavirus, I doubt airlines are going to be more open to introducing things that could lead to even more confrontations and Royal Rumbles.

So while the FCC has had discussions about whether or not to allow passengers to make calls on planes, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.

Conference calls

If you simply need to attend a conference via a wifi phone call that may not be an issue for an airline.

That’s because airlines are primarily concerned about passengers getting annoyed by you talking on the phone. But if you were simply listening in on a phone call, you’re not presenting any disturbances to other passengers.

If you have enabled text messaging you can always sit in on a call and simply text someone at the meeting in order to silently communicate from the cabin which is something that I have also done before.

Sure, it’s not the most ideal way to participate in a meeting but at least you will be able to be a part of the meeting (yipee, I know).

Related: Can You Text On A Plane? (Wifi vs Cell Phone Data)

Many major airlines don’t allow voice phone calls when in the air.

How to make a phone call from a plane

The first thing you need to do is connect to the planes Wi-Fi.

Some airlines allow you to connect to the Wi-Fi in order to send out text messages and other types of messages for free but if you plan on making a phone call, you probably will have to pay for the Wi-Fi session.

After you are connected to the Wi-Fi, you need to activate Wi-Fi calling on your phone if you haven’t already. This can be done from your settings on your phone in just a couple of seconds.

On an iPhone, go to Settings -> Cellular -> Wi-Fi Calling. Next toggle the button for “Wi-Fi calling on this iPhone.”

There are additional settings for things like roaming but you do not need to toggle these on in order to make a phone call from the aircraft.

Depending on your service provider and mobile device you may have to deal with a couple of pop-up screens to turn Wi-Fi calling on.

But once you do that, your phone should be capable of making a phone call from the plane.

Nowadays you don’t have to do anything extra to add Wi-Fi calling to your cell phone services — it is probably already there.

When you make a call over Wi-Fi with your cell phone company, you should be billed the same way but you may want to check with your phone company first.

You can also potentially make phone calls from apps such as WhatsApp that allow you to send calls over Wi-Fi. And of course there are other options like FaceTime.

Note: Some airlines may not have quality Wi-Fi which means that you will be able to connect to the Wi-Fi and maybe complete a call but you will struggle to have a quality, non-disrupted conversation.

wifi icon on plane

Air-to-ground telephones

There’s also something called “air to ground” telephones.

You may have heard of Airfone or Air One which were more common to find on planes in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Each block of three economy seats would have one phone while first class seats would have an individual phone per seat back.

These services allowed passengers to make calls from the plane when at cruising altitude at expensive rates such as $4.99 per minute. In fact, during the 9/11 attacks this is how a lot of the phone calls were made, including on United Airlines Flight 93.

The services eventually proved to have limited popularity with only a couple of passengers per flight using it.

In 2002, Air One was discontinued and after a series of auctions and acquisitions Airfone essentially no longer existed as of 2013.

Today, you will likely be hard-pressed to find an aircraft with an air to ground telephone available to passengers. So your best bet for completing a phone call will probably be via Wi-Fi.

Final word

While you cannot use cellular data to make a phone call while in a plane, it’s often possible to make a phone call from an airplane via Wi-Fi. But you need to be aware that some airlines prohibit these calls and a lot of passengers can find it extremely annoying when someone is chatting on the phone.

United Airlines Premier Access Benefits Guide: (Worth It?) [2023]

Getting through the airport can sometimes be an extremely stressful experience. Whether it is dealing with those dreaded long security lines, trying to secure valuable overhead storage bin space, or waiting for what seems like an eternity to get your checked baggage from baggage claim, frustration can mount at various times.

Luckily, there are some programs that can help remedy these situations. One of these programs is called United Airlines Premier Access, and I have had a lot of experience with it.

In this comprehensive article, I will discuss all of the benefits of United Premier Access and give you some insight into whether or not these benefits are worth it. I’ll also show you which airports offers these benefits and what to expect.

What is United Premier Access?

United Premier Access is a collection of benefits that allows certain customers to have a more convenient airport experience from the time of check-in, through the time of boarding, and even when picking up their luggage. These benefits are only offered to specific United customers and I’ll discuss who is eligible below.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

United Premier Access line
United Premier Access at IAH.

How do I get United Premier Access?

United Premier Access is available for the following customers:

Customers traveling on the same reservation as someone who is eligible to receive complimentary Premier Access will also receive complimentary Premier Access.

MileagePlus Premier members

If you are a MileagePlus Premier member (meaning you hold elite status with United Airlines), then you will be offered United Premier Access with all of your tickets. 

Here are the different elite statuses with United Airlines and how to achieve them.

Premier levelPQF and PQP Requirement
Premier Silver12 PQF and 4,000 PQP or 5,000 PQP
Premier Gold24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP
Premier Platinum36 PQF and 12,000 PQP or 15,000 PQP
Premier 1K54 PQF and 18,000 PQP or 24,000 PQP

There is also the invite-only status of Global Services as well.

Travelers in United Polaris business class, United First and United Business

If you are flying business class or first class, then you will be offered United Premier Access. This includes domestic flights so you do not need to be taking an international flight to get access.

In addition to the Premier Access perks, you will also be able to check in free baggage with an increased weight allowance. For example, on a typical domestic flight you could check two bags in for free and their weight allowance would be up to 70 pounds (up from 50). To find out more about United baggage fees click here.

United Airlines first class
United business class on the 787.

Star Alliance Gold members

If you are a Star Alliance Gold member, then you should be given access.

United Club Infinite Card and Presidential Plus credit cardmembers

If you are a United Club Infinite and/or Presidential Plus credit cardmember, you will get access. 

The United Club Infinite Card is a great card for people who fly United and are interested in taking advantage of perks like free bags and priority check-in and who value United airport lounge access.

In addition to Premier Access, you’ll earn 4X United miles on all United purchases which is nice but the biggest perk is that you get access to United Clubs, which are United airport lounges found all across the country. (You’ll also get access to participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges worldwide.) 

Purchase Premier Access

You can now purchase Premier Access. A Premier Access purchase includes priority check-in, security lane access (where available) and boarding, but it does not include priority baggage handling. Prices, starting at $15, are segment-based, and subject to change.

You can purchase Premier Access on anytime from booking through check-in. This means that you can call the United customer service number and request this purchase or you can even make the purchase at a check-in kiosk at the airport.

You may have the option to purchase Premier Access for one segment of your trip or all of your segments — it just depends. You can also purchase it for multiple people on your itinerary. Keep in mind that Premier Access purchases are generally nonrefundable (unless a flight is canceled).

Also, remember that if you purchase a basic economy ticket you cannot purchase Premier Access.

Whether paying $15 dollars for this benefit is worth it or not will depend on the person and on the airport that they are traveling through. For example, if you are traveling through a major airport that you know is backed up during the peak holiday travel season, then it could absolutely be worth it to pay $15 to avoid those depressingly long lines.

However, if you are just traveling through an ordinary airport at non-peak/busy times and you already have something like TSA Pre-Check, then you likely won’t get that much benefit from this.

United Premier Access check in area
United Premier Access check-in.

How do I know I have United Premier Access?

You can verify that you have United Premier Access by checking your boarding pass. You should be able to see it on your mobile boarding pass or if you have printed out a boarding pass it should be on the top of the boarding pass as shown below. 

United Premier Access boarding pass
Boarding pass showing Premier Access.

United Premier Access benefits

Here are the United Premier Access benefits:

  • Premier Access check-in
  • Premier Access security lane
  • Premier Access priority boarding
  • Premier Access priority baggage handling

Premier Access check-in

The first benefit that you will notice when you arrive at an airport that has Premier Access perks, is that you will have a dedicated area to check in.

The Premier Access check-in lines are often very short compared to the standard check-in lines available to the public. In fact, most times I have checked in, I have been able to go immediately up to the desk at IAH.

There will usually be lines for different levels of elite status at the Premier Access check-in. For example, you might see a line for 1K and a line for Global Services. But if there are no elite members in those lines, you should be able to check in at those desks even if you have lower elite status.

Premier Access priority check-in lines are available at all airports United serves.

Premier Access security lane

You will also have special access to the Premier Access security lane. This security line should be much shorter than the standard security lines available to the public. Also, sometimes the Premier Access security lane is shorter than the TSA Pre-Check line.

So, you often have to make a judgment call on which line to go into. I would typically choose the TSA Pre-Check line because those are usually quicker and you will not have to take off/out your shoes, jacket, electronics, and liquids. The exception would be if the Premier Access security lane is just moving much quicker than the TSA Pre-Check line.

Some airports provide you with TSA “light” benefits when you go through the Premier Access security lane. For example, you may not have to remove your laptop or remove your liquids or something along those lines. You might even be funneled into the TSA Pre-Check screening.

So getting the Premier Access security lane is nice, but TSA Pre-Check will often be better. To read more about TSA Pre-Check, click here

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Premier Access priority check-in airport locations

Premier Access priority check-in and boarding are available at all airports United serves, but access to priority security lines is offered only at the following airports:

  • Albuquerque (ABQ)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS)
  • Anchorage (ANC)
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Baltimore-Washington International (BWI)
  • Boston Logan (BOS)
  • Brussels, Belgium (BRU)
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
  • Cleveland (CLE)
  • Columbus (CMH)
  • Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Fort Myers (RSW)
  • Guam (GUM)
  • Harlingen (HRL)
  • Hartford (BDL)
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Houston Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Jacksonville (JAX)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Melbourne, Australia (MEL)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Milan, Italy (MXP)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • New York LaGuardia (LGA)
  • New York/Newark (EWR)
  • Oklahoma City (OKC)
  • Orange County (SNA)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Panama City, Panama (PTY)
  • Paris, France (CDG)
  • Pensacola (PNS)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • Portland, Oregon (PDX)
  • Providence (PVD)
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
  • Quebec City, QC Canada (YQB)
  • Raleigh-Durham (RDU)
  • Reno (RNO)
  • Richmond (RIC)
  • Rochester, NY (ROC)
  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Savannah (SAV)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Singapore, Singapore (SIN)
  • St. Louis (STL)
  • Sydney, Australia (SYD)
  • Tampa (TPA)
  • Tulsa (TUL)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Washington National (DCA)
  • West Palm Beach (PBI)

Additional airports may be added in the future. ​​

Priority Boarding

Your boarding group will be determined based on the way that you obtained United Premier Access. If you have elite status, then you will board according to the established boarding groups that United publishes. Depending on your status, you could be boarding with pre-boarding, Group 1, or Group 2.

If you purchased United Premier Access or obtained priority boarding via a United credit card, then you will be boarding in Group 2. Here is a look at all of the United boarding groups to give you an idea of how the boarding process works.


  1. Unaccompanied minors
  2. Customers with disabilities
  3. Active members of the military
  4. United Global Services members
  5. Families traveling with children age 2 and younger
  6. 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, Club, Presidential Plus and Awards Cardmembers

Groups 3 – 5

  • Economy Plus
  • United Economy
  • Basic Economy

Tip: As you might be able to tell, there are a lot of people who can board with Group 2. As a result, if you want to take advantage of the priority boarding then you should try to get in line for Group 2 as early as possible.

The line is not always that long but it can get pretty backed up at times, especially with big aircraft.

United boarding signs.

Premier Access priority baggage handling

When you check your bags, the agents should place a specific tag on your luggage for priority baggage handling. In theory, this tag should allow your bag to be one of the first bags that is unloaded off of the plane and so you should be able to be one of the first passengers to pick up your bag.

However, this does not always work out and so this benefit can be a bit hit or miss. In fact, many report that their bags are rarely the first to come out so I would be reluctant to place a lot of value on this perk. In my personal experience, my bags have come out first over 50% of the time.

Do I get lounge access?

Unfortunately, you will not get lounge access with United Premier Access. However, if you had one of the credit cards like the United Explorer Card, then you can get a couple of annual complimentary lounge passes and also get some of the Premier Access benefits like priority boarding.

United Club Lounge at IAH.

Premier Priority Desk phone number

If you are a Premier customer and have questions you can call the Premier Priority Desk phone number — the number is listed on the back of the membership card or you can call the United Customer Contact Center at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331).

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

United Airlines Premier Access FAQ

How can I get United Premier Access?

United Premier Access is available for the following customers:

– MileagePlus Premier members
– Travelers in United Polaris business class, United First and United Business
– Star Alliance Gold members
– MileagePlus Club and Presidential Plus credit cardmembers
– Those who purchase Premier Access for a particular flight.

What credit card offers United Premier Access?

You can get United Premier Access with the United Club Infinite Card.

Do travel partners also get United Premier Access?

Yes, people traveling on the same reservation as someone who is eligible to receive complimentary Premier Access will also receive complimentary Premier Access.

Do business class passengers get United Premier Access?

Yes, If you are flying business class or first class, then you will be offered United Premier Access. This is true even if you are flying domestically.

Can I purchase United Premier Access?

Yes, you can now purchase Premier Access. 

A Premier Access purchase includes priority check-in, security lane access (where available) and boarding, but it does not include priority baggage handling. 

Prices start at $15.

Note: If you purchase a basic economy ticket you cannot purchase Premier Access.

What are the United Premier Access benefits?

– Premier Access check-in
– Premier Access security lane
– Premier Access priority boarding
– Premier Access priority baggage handling

When does Premier Access get to board?

Your boarding group will be determined based on the way that you obtained United Premier Access.

Depending on your status, you could be boarding with pre-boarding, Group 1, or Group 2.

If you purchased United Premier Access or obtained priority boarding via a United credit card, then you will be boarding in Group 2. 

Do I get lounge access with Premier Access?

No, unfortunately you do not get lounge access.

What is the Premier Priority Desk phone number?

The United Customer Contact Center is 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331).

Final word

Overall, United Premier Access offers a lot of benefits that will make your airport experience much more convenient and streamlined. However, the value that you get from these benefits will often depend on the the times of the day and year that you travel, how frequently you travel, and also will be dependent upon the airport that you are frequenting.

How Long Does It Take To Leave the Airport After Landing From an International Flight?

Are you arriving from an international flight and trying to figure out how long it will take you to get through the airport?

Perhaps you are scheduling a pick up with someone and you want to make sure that they arrive close to your scheduled “airport exit time.”

Well, there are a lot of different variables that go into play when trying to predict how long it will take you to exit the airport after an international flight. But by breaking things down a little bit, you can often arrive at a pretty close estimate and we will show you how to do that in this article.

How long does it take to leave the airport after landing from an international flight?

You can generally expect to exit the airport after an international flight anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour after the scheduled arrival time assuming that your flight departed on time.

However, the exact amount of time that it takes can vary dramatically based on a lot of different factors so keep reading below to find out how to more accurately predict this time!

Your journey through the airport after an international flight

Let’s walk through what your journey will be like after an international flight to see how long it will take you to get through the airport.

Arrival time

If a flight departs on time or at some time near the departure time, there is a high chance that the flight is going to arrive earlier than the scheduled arrival time.

In my experience, this is even more so the case with long-haul international flights where predicting the exact arrival time is a little bit more difficult because of the longer distance.

Here are some examples of flights between LAX and Sydney Australia (SYD) taken from Flight Radar to give you an idea of just how early these flights can arrive.

These are the actual arrival times for a Delta flight with a scheduled arrival time of 6 AM:

  • 5:24 AM
  • 5:18 AM
  • 5:25 AM
  • 5:20 AM
  • 5:41 AM
  • 5:38 AM

Something interesting about these flights is that they all did not depart until about 15 to 30 minutes AFTER the scheduled departure time. So a long international flight could depart a good 20+ minutes late and still arrive over 30 minutes early from the scheduled arrival time.

I would encourage you to check out the specific flight you are concerned about and look through the past couple of weeks of arrival times. This will help you get a very accurate sense of when the flight will be arriving.

Delay getting to the jet bridge

Arriving at an airport extra early is great but sometimes getting there too early can be a problem. This is because there may not be an open gate for the aircraft to deplane at.

I’ve been on international flights where we arrive super early and are essentially forced to just wait 20+ minutes on the tarmac until the gate opens up. So unfortunately, sometimes even though your flight is early, you’re not going to be able to get a jumpstart on exiting the airport.


How passengers deplane will depend on the aircraft and also on the airport.

Some aircraft may have multiple jetbridges while others may only have one exit point. For those that only have one exit point, typically first class/business class get priority exit and then economy will follow.

Being one of the first off the plane also means getting a jump in line for immigration and customs.

Airport size and layout

If you are arriving at a large airport you may have to take a shuttle bus or tram to travel between terminals.

In my experience, trams are pretty reliable at airports but the shuttle bus systems can be a cluster you-know-what.

Sometimes it may take you 15 to 20 minutes to get from your arrival gate area to the immigration and customs lines. Other times, you’ll be there within five minutes.

Immigration & Customs

Unless you were able to do some type of pre-clearance through customs in a foreign country, you will have to go through customs and immigration whenever you arrive in the US.

First, you go through immigration which is where you will show your passport and explain the reason for your international visit.

If you want to get an idea of the waiting times for your specific airport, you can look up those wait times here.

The wait times will be different based on if you are a US resident or non-resident (it typically takes a non-resident longer to get through).

You can also see what the wait times are at different times in the day — certain hours tend to be MUCH busier than others.

If you are trying to play things conservatively, you could take a look at the maximum wait time which should give you an indication of what the worst case scenario would likely be.

Remember that if you have Global Entry you’ll be able to breeze through immigration, sometimes in only a matter of a couple of minutes. Another way to get through immigration quickly is to enroll in Mobile Passport.

International checked baggage

Another time hurdle you have for getting out of the airport is getting your checked baggage (assuming that you checked a bag).

By the time that you get through immigration, your checked bag may already be on the carousel because bags can start hitting the conveyor belt in as little as 15 minutes.

Usually, passengers with premium tickets such as first class or business class get their bags handled with priority so they should be the first ones out although that does not always happen.

Just keep in mind that the widebody jets that fly international routes are often some of the bigger planes with lots of passengers and bags. That means that it could take longer for the plane to be unloaded and for all of the bags to be transported.

Having to wait close to 45 minutes for your bags to arrive on the carousel is unfortunately a possibility for some unlucky passengers.

As a rule of thumb, you could probably expect your bags to arrive within 20 to 30 minutes of the plane arriving at the gate but arrival time for checked bags can sometimes be hard to predict.


Airports handle immigration and customs differently with some combining the two and others utilizing a separate process for each.

So just be prepared to potentially go through two separate areas, one for immigration and one for customs.

I’ve had the unfortunate experience of dealing with some extraordinarily long customs lines when trying to exit with my baggage so be prepared to add extra time if you get caught in a scenario like that. (Global Entry can help you avoid these long lines, too.)

At some point you will likely have to indicate if you have something to declare or not. For example, you may have to walk through a special line for people declaring items and speak with an agent.

If you have to declare anything or need to have certain items inspected such as plants or animals, remember that you may have to spend a lot more time in customs. This could easily add an extra 10 to 15 minutes but if there is a hiccup it could take even longer.

Also, there is the possibility that you could be subjected to some type of screening, even on a random basis, so that could easily add to your wait time.

So what time should you arrive to pick someone up from the airport on an international flight?

In the end, it’s really difficult to give specific guidance on when you should arrive at the airport to pick someone up from an international flight because there are so many variables at play and some of these will always be unpredictable.

To recap, these variables are:

  • Arrival time (which is often early)
  • Tarmac delays
  • Deplaning time
  • Airport size/layout
  • Immigration
  • Baggage Claim (which can vary widely)
  • Customs

Generally, for an international flight that departed on time I would estimate that it would take about 30 minutes to one hour from the scheduled arrival time for someone to get through all of these but there will always be outlier cases.

I remember times when I would arrive back at Houston Hobby Airport (HOU) from an international flight and with no checked bags + Global Entry + seat up front, I would probably exit the airport within 15 minutes of the plane’s door opening at the gate.

However, there are also times when you might arrive at a larger and busier airport where it could easily take you an hour to an hour and a half to get through with late-arriving checked bags.

If you are trying to get as specific as possible then consider all of the different variables and factor in:

  • Average early arrival time from last few weeks of prior flights (using Flight Radar)
  • Average customs wait times for that specific airport/Global Entry status
  • Whether or not the passenger has checked bags

By getting these details and tracking the flight status of the person’s flight on the day of arrival, you could very closely estimate the exact time they would be walking through those exit doors.

When you show up to the airport to pick up somebody I would suggest you checking out the cell phone parking lot as that is a great place to park for free while you wait for your passenger to arrive.

Or, if you are having someone picking you up always be sure to text them as soon as you arrive.

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