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

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

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.

What Does Airplane Mode Do? (Is It Necessary?)

If you’ve ever been flying commercially in the US, you know that at some point during the beginning of your takeoff, you’ll be asked to put your devices like your iPhone in “airplane mode.”

But what exactly does airplane mode do and do you really need to put your phone in it when flying?

In this article, I’ll explain exactly what airplane mode does and why it might be so important to keep your phone in airplane mode when flying.

I’ll also give you some scenarios where airplane mode can be useful outside of the airplane context.

What does airplane mode do?

Airplane mode disables wireless transmission features on your mobile devices such as: cellular data, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Airplane mode is primarily designed to reduce the interference from cellular radio waves that could potentially interfere with cellular transmission on the ground but some also believe it helps to reduce navigational and communication issues between pilots and air traffic control.

Let’s look at why airplane mode may or may not be needed.

Reducing radio waves on the ground

Believe it or not, it’s not the FAA but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that is the primary driving force behind airplane mode requirements.

They prohibit in-flight cell phone use to protect the integrity of ground-based cellular systems.

The worry is that a cell phone hurling through the sky could ping multiple cell phone towers at the same time.

Consider that the farther that some phones get from cell phone towers, the more “aggressive” they get with their signal requests.

So you could imagine that with potentially thousands of passengers in the sky shooting out their cell signals nonstop, this could create an unstable environment for cellular data.

When flying at high altitudes of 35,000 feet, it’s very debatable that a cell phone signal could reach cell phone towers on the ground.

It’s not that the cell signal could not extend that far out — a typical cellphone has enough power to reach a cell tower up to 45 miles away.

It’s more about the angles of the signals and how the towers receive and transmit those signals.

Take a look at the image below and that might give you an idea of the direction the signals typically go out. As you can see, it is more of a lateral transmission than vertical.

So when flying 35,000 feet above these towers, it makes sense that the signals would not be properly received.

However, when flying at much lower altitudes (some say around 2,000 to 8,000 feet), it sounds like much more of a possibility that phones in a plane could ping these towers.

cell phone tower signal diagram
Image via

Protect flight controls

It was once believed that cellular phone transmission could affect the flight controls like the navigation systems and therefore create a major flight safety risk.

That risk may have been more prevalent with older technology with unshielded wiring but it seems this risk on modern planes may be overblown.

According to the North Carolina Consumers Council (NCCC), there are no proven cases of cellular phone transmission interfering with a navigation system.

It’s said that the shielded wires in the cockpit now should prevent those radio waves from penetrating and causing issues.

But there are still a couple of concerns.

One, it’s worth noting that shielding can degrade over time.

Also, with phones always rapidly evolving, it can be hard to predict exactly how new devices could affect flight control systems.

So it seems that while modern planes are more equipped to deal with lots of electronics, there still may be some room for concern in some cases.

The biggest inconvenience these days might be cellular signals interfering with communications between the pilots and air traffic control.

The cell signals could cause distracting noise in the headsets of the pilots which could result in miscommunications.

And that could obviously be a major problem.

The noise in the pilots headset theory is challenged by a lot of people who state this type of interference is extremely rare or potentially even nonexistent with today’s tech.

The evidence is a bit mixed, but I think the conclusion here is that older aircraft and older cellular devices posed a much greater risk when it came to interference from cell signals.

That risk from cell signals is probably very low in modern times but due to all of the factors that would go into testing this and how quickly technology changes, it’s really hard to know for sure what that level of risk is at any given time.

Therefore, I would still err on the side of putting your phone in airplane mode just in case something unthinkable could happen.

What can you do in airplane mode?

When you put your phone into airplane mode, your phone may or may not disable three separate features.

The features that will be disabled include cellular transmission, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Airplane mode allows you to toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth back on if needed which allows you to still use Bluetooth headphones and connect to Wi-Fi on an airplane, for example.

I actually learned this the hard way years ago after unsuccessfully attempting to pair my Bluetooth headphones on a flight.

I went hours without any music or sound only to later find out that all I had to do was toggle my Bluetooth on to get it to work!

Wi-Fi is the exact same way.

Just toggle your Wi-Fi on and you can connect and even engage in text messaging and making Wi-Fi phone calls.

However, be aware that most airlines prohibit voice calls while flying, mostly because it can be super annoying to other passengers nearby.

A lot of smart phones like iPhones will remember the last configuration of your airplane mode to make things easier for you.

So if you enable Bluetooth while your phone is in airplane mode, it should be enabled the next time you put your phone in airplane mode.

Airplane Mode settings on phone

What about GPS in airplane mode?

GPS functionality is a bit different from everything else mentioned.

Airplane mode disables the transmission from your device but GPS on your phone is not transmitting signals; it is receiving signals from satellites.

So, in theory, your phone could still register a GPS signal even when flying on a plane (some devices might disable GPS).

The problem is getting that signal through a high flying metal tube is not so easy.

In addition to that, the absurd speed at which planes fly can essentially confuse a lot of algorithms used by GPS software, making them struggle to pin point where you are.

This is why some people will prompt their phone to receive a GPS signal before boarding the plane — it will make it easier to track.

With your cellular data turned off, you also won’t have the benefit of assisted GPS which helps your phone receive a GPS signal in a timely manner (WiFi might be able to help).

So receiving a sufficient GPS signal on a plane is difficult and maybe even impossible.

However, if you are seated by the windows and you position your phone next to the plane window, a lot of times (with a bit of patience) you can still get a GPS signal.

If you look at your maps on your phone, you might see a little dot located on a “map” that looks more like a sea of blankness. And that is because data is required to populate your map.

But, if you were to have a map downloaded off-line and your phone received a GPS signal through the window, you should be able to see your position on a map, albeit with questionable accuracy.

Airlines with in-flight entertainment (seatback TVs or streaming) often have maps for you to see where you are so relying on your phone for a map view is not always necessary.

What happens if you don’t put your phone in airplane mode?

If you choose to defy the orders of putting your device in airplane mode, here are some of the outcomes that you might face.

Get a slap on the wrist or kicked off the plane…

If a flight attendant notices your phone is not in airplane mode, because you are yapping on the phone or because they just happened to glance over and see your screen (should be very rare), they’ll probably just request for you to put your phone in airplane mode.

This could amount to a polite request but it could also come off as an admonishment.

Basically, it could just be an embarrassing scene and other passengers may not appreciate that you may have put their safety “at risk” by being selfish.

For some people, interactions like this can quickly escalate (especially post pandemic). It could even lead to you getting kicked off the plane like this person or this person.

In a worst-case scenario it might even land you on an airline’s no-fly list!

So it’s a good idea to avoid these situations when possible by just keeping your phone in airplane mode.

You could cause disruptions for the pilots

If it is true about pilots hearing static noise from cell signals in their headsets (which I do believe is the case), you could be interfering with the communications going to and from the person trying to navigate you safely from Point A to Point B.

Is that really something that you want to risk by keeping airplane mode off?

Could you cause a plane to crash?

It seems unlikely that you would directly interfere with plane navigation systems simply by keeping airplane mode off.

After all, if there was a real threat to airline safety from cell phone signals, it would be such a high national security concern that phones would not even be allowed to be turned on in planes.

The risk from a terrorist attack would just be way too high.

But as just discussed, cell phone signals can probably interfere with the pilots ability to communicate and hear instructions from air traffic control.

In a perfect storm scenario, it would not be impossible for something horrible to happen.

So while not putting your phone on airplane mode will not directly cause a plane to crash, it could contribute to a dangerous scenario under the worst of circumstances.

Get hit with a fine?

Although there are some reports that passengers could face a fine for not putting a phone in airplane mode, I struggled to find confirmed cases of passengers getting fined for not putting their phone in airplane mode.

It seems that if fines were being issued on a regular basis, that would not be the case.

But while you may not have to worry about getting a fine, you might still be out of pocket if you choose to leave airplane mode off.

How exactly is that the case?

If you don’t turn on airplane mode it’s possible that your device could connect to the in-flight roaming network and you could be billed several hundred dollars for usage!

Cell phone battery goes dead quicker

Not putting your phone in airplane mode means that it could keep working to connect with cell phone towers.

That could drain your battery very quickly.

When should you use airplane mode?

Obviously, when you are requested by flight attendants to put your phone in airplane mode you should comply.

But there are a handful of scenarios where airplane mode could come in handy.

Coming back in the country

Something that hardly anybody knows about or thinks about is the need for putting their phone in airplane mode when they are coming back in the country through customs.

The point of doing this is to prevent a customs agent from snooping through everything on your phone.

In case you were not aware, a customs agent can seize your phone and search all of its contents without needing a warrant or even suspicion.

The limitation is that they cannot access anything that is stored on the cloud. So if you were to exit out of your apps and put your phone into airplane mode, that would be the extent of anything a customs agent could inspect.

You’re unsure about roaming charges

Some phones can be a little bit confusing when it comes to roaming settings.

People don’t always know exactly what setting needs to be turned on or off and because of that they run the risk of getting hit with huge roaming charges.

Some people also just forget to disable roaming.

By putting your phone in airplane mode you can be guaranteed that you will not be subject to any unexpected roaming fees.

When troubleshooting

A lot of times whenever I have trouble getting reception I utilize airplane mode to to get me service.

This will help “reset” your phone to seek out cell phone towers and speed up the process for getting you service.

In my experience, this has been really handy when arriving in a new country. When my phone struggles to get service I simply put it in airplane mode and then take it back out and it often resolves the issue.

Battery saver

If you ever are running low on your battery one of the best ways to preserve it is to put your phone in airplane mode. You’d be surprised how quickly your battery can be drained when it’s attempting to get a signal.

Put your phone on airplane mode, dim your screen, and you just extended your battery life so that you can hopefully make it to your next charging session.

This can be extremely helpful when traveling or when out and about in remote places such as when you’re hiking.

When you need a break

When you just need a break from communication, it’s easy to just put your phone in airplane mode so that you won’t be bothered with phone calls, text messages, and emails.

This is also a refreshing thing to do when traveling.

Nothing is worse than getting hit with a work email when trying to enjoy the sights of a museum or an amazing dinner at sunset.

Airplane mode can be your solution for staying present in the moment.

Final word

Airplane mode is designed to disable transmission from your mobile devices.

While many people doubt or seriously question the necessity for it, it seems that in certain instances cell phones from planes can interfere with cellular data on the ground and also with the ability of pilots to clearly communicate and potentially even navigate.

Future innovation may resolve some of the issues and more studies might give us answers to the questions that remain about the disruption of cell phone use on a plane, but for now given what we know, I think it makes sense to keep our phones on airplane mode until we have more clarity on the potential effect of these devices.

Switching Seats on a Plane? Etiquette Tips for Getting “Yes” and Saying “No”

Switching seats on a plane is a hot button topic for a lot of travelers.

Whether you are switching with a stranger or just trying to swap seats with a friend, there are certain factors that you need to be aware of in order for your plan to go smoothly and to avoid confrontations.

In this guide, I’ll talk about how to properly ask someone to switch seats with you and also how to politely tell someone no. I’ll also give you some tips on how to swap seats with a friend or family member to make things easy.

Call ahead of time

If you’re flying a premium cabin on a well respected airline, you might be able to call ahead of time to figure out your seating situation.

For example, when we booked the first class suites on Singapore Airlines I noticed that one passenger was occupying one of the suites that could be shared.

This meant that Brad and I would be in suites that were not adjoined and because that traveler was a solo traveler it wasn’t a very efficient use of the cabin features.

So I called Singapore Airlines to see if they could contact the passenger and see if they would be interested in changing seats.

I fully did NOT expect my request to work but somehow Singapore Airlines worked their magic and arranged for the seat swap a couple of months before departure.

I would not expect this to work every time but it is worth a shot when flying in certain premium cabins.

Ask the agent at check-in

If you’re not crazy about your seat or you want to inquire about other options you can do so whenever you arrive at the check-in desk.

Medical exceptions aside, a check-in agent is usually not going to move anybody’s seat for you but it could happen.

But even if they don’t relocate others, they might be able to find you a newly opened seat or perhaps a seat that was not available to choose online.

This could help you avoid having to ask another passenger to swap seats with you.

Depending on the type of ticket you purchased and the airline’s same day change policy, you might also just be able to inquire about other flights. Perhaps you can depart an hour or two later but with better seats?

Ask the agent at the gate

Sometimes you run into a less than happy check-in agent that only seems interested in doing the bare minimum (checking you in and checking your bags).

If you get the sense that they are not helping you as much as they could or they are just being not very fun to deal with then consider heading to the gate and inquiring with an agent there.

They may be able to help you with changing seats although they probably will not get involved with calling up on the passengers to give up their seats.

Be sure to arrive early before boarding though because they will be too busy to help you once boarding begins.

Ask a flight attendant

Getting a flight attendant involved with your seat swapping pursuit is one of the best routes to go.

If you are shy they can facilitate the requests and other passengers might be more likely to honor the request of a flight attendant (although it is debatable).

Unless there are weight or balance safety issues, I don’t believe a flight attendant can force another passenger to switch seats with you, although there are some horror stories out there of tyrant flight attendants.

Be sure to ask a flight attendant that is located near your seat for assistance rather than bombarding a flight attendant at the entrance of the plane.

Explain your reason (briefly) and be transparent

Your odds of getting someone to switch seats with you will probably increase if you can provide them with a very short and reasonable (and preferably honest) explanation for your request.

For example, you want to keep your family together or perhaps you are taking care of someone, those are generally good reasons for wanting a seat switch.

Just try to avoid getting too long-winded with your explanation and avoid sounding overly pushy or sob-storyish (spare other passengers your personal drama).

In addition to providing a good reason for swapping, make sure you also are 100% upfront about where exactly your seat is and what type of seat it is.

You also need to disclose relevant details like if there is a crying baby next to the seat, stinky passenger, etc.

Don’t ever poach a seat proactively

The number one tactic to never do (because it is a jerk type of move) is to sit in a seat that is not yours with the expectation that the original seat holder will switch with you when they show up to their seat.

This not only causes confusion for people but it’s actually pretty rude.

Also, you will likely rub someone the wrong way or simply piss them off to the point that they will not want to switch seats with you (even if they would’ve been open to it before).

The much better strategy would be to stand near their seat and make a request when they arrive to that seat before they store all of their belongings.

If you can clearly and calmly articulate the perks of the seat you can provide them with (e.g., “the seat is just two rows back and is the exact same type of window seat”), that will be an exponentially better route to go than simply taking their seat.

Don’t trade for a worse seat

Sometimes it’s very clear what constitutes a worse seat like asking to swap a first class seat for an economy seat.

But you need to be very conscious about both the subjective and objective value of a seat when requesting a seat switch.

First, be aware that many passengers place a high value on a particular type of seat such as a window or aisle seat.

For me personally, I’m a window seat person and not having the window as an outlet is a pretty huge deal to me.

For others, having direct access to the aisle could be worth a lot to them, especially if they have some sort of digestion concerns or plane anxiety by the windows.

Other people might place value in sitting in a bulkhead, emergency exit row, towards the front of the plane, back of the plane, etc. Don’t assume that just because you don’t care for a seat that others will feel the same way.

Also, a lot of times people pay extra money for different seats within the economy cabin.

They could be paying for a little bit of extra legroom or to sit towards the front of the plane. And this is important: the amount that they paid could be different from the amount someone in the adjacent seat paid.

Asking another passenger to essentially cover the cost of your seat upgrade while losing out on their paid benefit is a major ask. Some might even say it’s inconsiderate to put a stranger in a position to deal with that scenario.

If you’re asking someone to switch with a seat that appears to be of equal value such as a seat directly behind them then consider maybe adding on a little incentive.

Maybe offer to buy them a drink or give them a bag of chips or something along those lines. Heck, even $5 can go a long way.

The best way to motivate someone to switch seats is to offer them a seat that is better than what they have.

If you can offer them a change from a middle seat to a window or aisle or perhaps extra legroom you have a lot more leverage.

Don’t get upset if people say no

If you ask to switch seats with someone, even if you have a very legitimate reason, don’t get upset or rude if they refuse.

Once again, you don’t know what type of value they are putting on their seat or what type of situation they may be in.

For many nervous travelers, they’ve just gone through the hectic experience of arriving at the airport, going through security, boarding, and are now anxiously awaiting take-off.

By adding an unexpected seat request swap, you could be throwing them for a real loop and they could be more prone to an outburst type of response if they feel you are getting rude with them over their decision to not grant you their seat.

So if they refuse your request then just be polite and move on to another passenger if you can.

Related: Ultimate Guide to Airline Boarding Policies

Don’t say “yes” for others without asking

If someone is requesting to swap seats with you and other people in your party make sure you don’t just say “yes” on impulse without first checking with the other passengers.

This is something to consider if you’re flying with other people, even if it is someone you know very well like your spouse or another family member.

Don’t ever agree to swapping seats with others unless you have consulted with the other passengers in your party.

How to say “no” politely when asked to switch a seat

If someone asks you to switch a seat and you want to say no but are afraid of coming off as rude or inconsiderate, first of all, just know that it’s completely reasonable for you to decline the request.

You could just say, “Sorry, not interested in switching.”

But if you would like to also provide a bulletproof excuse (that no sane person or flight attendant should push back on) here are some that you can use:

  • If they are offering you a window seat tell them that you get anxious sitting by the windows or that you need direct aisle access to visit the bathroom.
  • If they are offering you an aisle seat tell them that you have plane anxiety and need to sit by a window to be calm or if you are a larger frame let them know that you get hit constantly due to your wide frame.
  • If the seat is towards the back of the plane let them know that you have a connecting flight and you need to get off the plane quickly or tell them that the back of the plane receives more turbulence and that makes you anxious.
  • If the seat is near a wing tell them that you get anxious sitting near the engines.

You could tell them that you paid X amount of dollars for your seat but be prepared that some people might counter your offer by paying you that amount.

So unless you’re open to receiving payment in exchange for swapping seats try to keep their counter options limited with your excuse.

My usual go to excuse for staying at my window seat is that I get aerial photography shots for my travel blog which is my full-time profession. It’s 100% true but you can use this excuse to help you lock down a window seat if needed too.

How to avoid seat swapping issues

If you want to minimize people asking you to change seats or others poaching your seat there are a couple of things you can do.

First, you can get a seat in the emergency exit row. This will make you a “no sit zone” for kids and families with kids. Therefore, you can avoid getting asked to move so that a family can sit together.

You can also board quicker. The quicker you get into your seat and store your belongings, the less likely someone is to poach your seat.

Print out your boarding pass on paper. If a gate agent decides to screw with your boarding position at the time of boarding you will have your original seating position which you can use to help claim your original seat. This may or may not work.

And finally, if you are in your seat jamming out to your headphones and not making eye contact with passengers coming through you will probably be less likely to be bothered.

Swapping seats with a friend

If you are trading seats with a friend or someone that you have a relationship with, it’s going to be a lot easier.

For example, if you are feeling like an angel and have seats in first/business class but you want to give up those seats for friends or family sitting in economy, most airlines should allow you to trade your seats without a problem.

You could notify a crew member about what you’re doing but you could also just have them sit in your seats and you sit in their seats.

This means that when it is time to board the first class passengers could simply head to the boarding group where the economy passengers are boarding.

This way, you can have the airline scan your boarding pass that belongs to you and then you can swap boarding passes with the other passengers while walking on the jet bridge.

This will avoid having to get redirected to a different seat during a busy boarding process.

Also, if a crew member sees someone from a lower cabin enter the business class or first class cabin during boarding they are likely to question them and if for whatever reason the airline is not on board with the seat swap, your plans could not work out.

Switching seats between economy and premium cabins during the flight is often problematic so it is best to handle this during boarding.

If you’re flying an international flight, especially on a premium airline, it’s not uncommon to get individual attention as a first class passenger.

For example, you might get welcomed with a “Hello, Mr. Johnson.”

So in that situation if you are switching with someone else it’s probably a good idea to let the flight attendant know that the two of you are switching positions.

Final word

Switching seats can get a little nerve-racking sometimes. But you can increase your odds of a successful seat swap if you start trying to work out a solution as soon as you can. Also, if you remain polite and aware of the exchange of value you are offering you’ll find that you’ll be successful more times than not.

Buying an Extra Seat on Delta Air Lines: What You Need to Know About the Process

Are you thinking about purchasing an extra seat on Delta Air Lines because you are a plus-sized passenger or just because you want some extra comfort?

If so, then it will be helpful for you to know how the booking process works along with some other helpful information like how to make sure you don’t lose your extra seat!

Below, I’ve broken down everything you need to know about purchasing an additional seat for your flight and hopefully will answer most or all of your questions!

How to book an extra seat on Delta Air Lines

A Delta representative confirmed that in order to book an extra seat, you need to call customer service.

This is in contrast to some other airlines like United that allow you to book an extra seat online, even if the process is a little bit strange.

When you purchase an extra seat, Delta will create an additional booking that essentially acts like a second passenger is traveling with you.

However, on the name for the second passenger you might see your first name replaced with “EXST.” The gender and date of birth should be the same as your own.

Your extra seat should be linked to your main ticket which means that if you encountered irregular operations, such as a flight change caused by Delta, your extra seat should “follow” you to your new flight.

Sometimes this may not happen and you may have to work out the situation with Delta but that should be rare according to the rep I spoke with.

For some other airlines, the second boarding pass gets printed out and scanned during the boarding process so you might need to print out that second boarding pass when flying with Delta and scan it.

The reason is that if you don’t scan the second boarding pass it could trigger a “no-show” which could mean that an additional passenger is assigned to your flight and that could cause issues for your extra seat.

Delta’s system may not work that way but you may want to confirm that.

If you want to use your SkyMiles to purchase the extra seat, that should be allowed as long as there are open awards.

Just be aware that you cannot purchase a basic economy ticket as an extra seat. That’s because a seat assignment is required and those basic economy fares do not allow for advanced seat selection.

Delta airline seats

A seat just for comfort?

Unlike Southwest Airlines that does not allow you to purchase an extra seat solely for comfort, Delta is among the airlines that allows you to purchase an extra seat even if you don’t need it for size reasons.

It’s also possible for you to purchase more than one extra seat if you would like.

For example, if you were on crutches and wanted to keep your foot elevated during the flight, you could purchase two additional seats and occupy an entire row.

(Of course, during takeoff and landing you need to comply with safety requirements.)

Will you be required to purchase an extra seat?

If you are a customer of size, often a major question is will you be required to purchase an extra seat?

This always depends on the circumstances but Delta seems to be one of the more plus-size friendly airlines as I will explain below.

If you need a seatbelt extender…

If you need a seatbelt extender, you are NOT required to purchase an extra seat. One reason for this is that people are just built very differently.

Some people carry their extra weight in different parts of the body so just because you need a seatbelt extender, that does not mean that you will be intruding on the passenger next to you.

The armrest does not have to come down

One of the big reasons why Delta is friendly to plus-size passengers is the armrest policy.

They state:

Delta does not require a passenger who needs a seatbelt extender or is unable to lower the armrest to purchase an additional seat

So just because the armrest cannot go down, that does not mean that you have to purchase an extra seat.

Often, whether or not the armrest can come down (and remain down) while a plus-sized passenger is seated is sort of a test of whether or not the passenger will be able to fly without buying an extra seat.

If the armrest can’t come down, the passenger is required to purchase an extra seat. But that is not the case with Delta.

While this is good news for many, to ensure that you don’t need to purchase an extra seat you still have to make sure that you are not “impeding on” another passenger….

If you impede on another passenger

Delta states that if you impede on another passenger, that’s when things become problematic.

Now what exactly “impede” means is the million dollar question.

Typically, this means if you are body is occupying space in the next seat (with the armrest acting as the official divider).

But it gets a little bit tricky when you talk about elbows, shoulders, etc.

In the end, this likely is a case-by-case determination that could largely depend on the passenger next to you.

Some people are just much more tolerant than others when it comes to rubbing arms or bodies with others.

If the crew determines that you are impeding on another passenger then there are a few different scenarios that could play out.

You could be asked to move to another seat.

For example, maybe there is an empty seat somewhere else on the plane or even just a smaller passenger that you can sit next to.

(Sometimes the passenger next to you may volunteer to swap with someone else or move to a different seat.)

If the flight is full then you could be asked to take a later flight that will have available seating.

To ensure that you will have space, you may want to purchase an additional seat for that later flight but that will not be required because the next available flight may not be full.

But obviously if that flight did become full — perhaps with standby passengers — you could find yourself right back in the same situation so it’s usually a good idea to purchase the extra seat to avoid these situations.

If the next flight is more expensive, Delta reps told me that you would not be responsible for paying the fare difference.

I should point out that some airlines will also cover a hotel and meals if you are refused the ability to fly until the next day. I did not get confirmation that Delta does this but since other major airlines do, it’s worth asking about.

Delta Air Lines planes

Can you use preboarding?

Preboarding is available to a lot of different passengers and it is required under the law to provide it to people who need extra time or assistance to get settled in their seat.

If you are a customer of size, you could easily make an argument that you may need extra time to get into your seat so I think preboarding should be on the table. After all, it is something that you self identify for.

If you are interested in preboarding then simply speak with a gate agent and they should be able to get you situated for it.

How an extra seat affects your luggage

If you were hoping to get an extra carry-on when purchasing an extra seat, that is not going to happen.

Instead, your carry-on allowance is strictly tied to the passenger flying — not the seat. (I believe this is a safety issue and not strictly an airline issue.)

However, the good news is that you will be entitled to extra checked baggage based on the number of seats that you purchase. Read about Delta baggage fees here.

What seats can you select?

If you are a customer of size then you want to avoid the emergency exit row.

That’s because seatbelt extenders are not allowed in those seats and the arm rests cannot be pushed up which means you will be dealing with limited seat width.

If the aircraft has rows with only two seats, that would be the ideal seat selection. However, if you are traveling with a companion then a row with three seats also works just fine.

Delta Air Lines seat

Protecting your extra seat

One of the drawbacks of purchasing an extra seat is that sometimes you have to keep people away from trying to poach your seat.

Also, there are reports of flight attendants trying to put people into the extra seats in order to accommodate other passengers or even to accommodate standby passengers.

Because of this, it’s a good practice to notify a flight attendant that you have paid for an extra seat as soon as you get settled in.

That should let them know that the seat is off-limits to others and they should help you “guard” the seat.

If for some reason your extra seat is occupied by a passenger then be sure to follow up with Delta to request some type of compensation.

Can you earn extra miles?

It appears that you can earn extra award miles at least for one extra seat. However, if you were trying to earn MQDs, MQMs, MQS, and Medallion bonus miles that might be a different story. Speak with a Delta agent about those requests.

What happens when you try to upgrade?

If you are I’m a Medallion member trying to be waitlisted for a complimentary Medallion upgrade then you should probably contact Delta reservations customer service.

It’s worth being aware that Delta says that if the complimentary upgrade clears, there are no refunds for the extra seat if it was a nonrefundable fare.

Final word

If you want an extra seat because you need more space or because you want to be more comfortable, you need to call Delta in order to book.

If you suspect that you will be impeding on another passenger then you might need to purchase an extra seat so that you don’t get put on a different flight.

Airplane Emergency Exit Rows Guide: (Rules, Pros & Cons) [2023]

If you have never sat in an emergency exit row seat you might be wondering why someone would ever choose to sit in those rows.

Doesn’t it just seem like one more thing to worry about on a flight?

Well, it turns out that there actually are quite a few perks for snagging those seats.

In this article, we will cover both the pros and cons of sitting in the emergency exit rows and give you some insight into where these rows are located on different aircraft.

We will also hit on the federal rules and restrictions regarding who is allowed to sit in the emergency exit row, so you’ll know if you are eligible or not.

What is the emergency exit row?

The emergency exit row is a section of an airplane containing seats near an over-wing exit or full-sized exit door.

Sitting here is a slightly different experience from your standard economy seat. For example, the emergency exit row seats may offer more legroom but also may come with restrictions that other seats don’t have.

Keep reading below to find out more about these restrictions and everything that you need to know!

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

emergency exit row
An example of two over-wing exit windows.

Benefits of sitting in the emergency exit row

Let’s start off with talking about the different benefits of sitting in the emergency exit row.

Extra legroom

Typically, one of the main reasons people like to sit in the emergency exit row is because they will have more legroom.

This is because you will generally find more “pitch” (the distance between seats) in the emergency exit rows.

How much extra legroom?

It depends on the aircraft but often you will have at least a couple of extra inches and in some aircraft you may have several more.

For someone who is above average in height, these extra few inches could make a huge difference especially when the flight is several hours.

Fewer seats in the row

Some rows in the emergency exit rows may only have two seats versus the three seats you would typically experience.

So if you are traveling as a couple you can have a little bit more privacy which is one reason why couples like the emergency exit rows.

And if you are seated behind one of these two seat rows, that means you have all the legroom in the world!

Cooler temps

If you are seated by an emergency exit door, you might find that the space nearby the door is a little bit colder.

That’s no surprise considering it could be about -59 F outside at 35,000 feet.

You won’t be getting frostbite but some people might need an extra sweater or blanket when sitting in this row.

Depending on your temperature preference, you might love or hate this.

Not sitting by kids/pets

The truth is a lot of passengers don’t want to sit next to kids, oversized passengers, or pets.

Because kids, some oversized passengers, and people with pets are not allowed in the emergency exit row, if you would like to optimize your comfort, the emergency exit row can be a good place for you to go.

Reduced turbulence

Not many (healthy and stable) people enjoy turbulence.

And for some people, it’s one of the worst things about traveling.

The center of the plane near the wings is known for being one of the best places to sit if you are worried about turbulence.

And often, this is where you can find the emergency exit rows.

Related: Using Turbulence Maps Ultimate Guide

Far enough from the lavatories

Sitting in the back of the plane can be one of the worst places because you may have limited recline and lots of foot traffic going in and out of the bathroom.

You also may have to deal with odors….

On the other hand, if you are seated in front of the economy section you may be prevented from using the first class lavatory and have to walk all the way to the back of the plane to use the bathroom.

But if you are seated in the emergency exit row in the middle of the plane, you are not so far from the bathroom but also not too close.

Did you know? It is basically impossible for the emergency exit doors to open during flight due to cabin pressure.

Downside of sitting in the emergency exit row

More expensive

Some airlines will require passengers to pay more money when choosing a seat in the emergency exit rows.

Sometimes they will consider the emergency exit row seats to be part of the “economy plus” section which is usually slightly more expensive.

For example, when I was looking to book a flight between Tucson and San Francisco, United allowed me to select my seats in the emergency exit row but notified me that I would have to pay $45 to $59 for the seat selection.

Often if you select seats like this you can get extra perks like priority boarding and sometimes even free alcohol.

United may charge you $50+ for the emergency exit row

More difficult to book

Some airlines make booking the emergency exit rows more difficult.

They might reserve them for elite members or not allow you to book them until the last minute.

In other cases they might be classified in such a way that you even have to call in to select your seat. So in some situations you may have to jump through a couple of hoops to get your seat.

Lack of recline

Some of the seats in exit rows will not allow you to recline.

This is typically the case if there are multiple rows of exit row seats for one exit and the seats don’t recline because it would clutter up the space for a clean exit.

Reclining on shorter domestic flights is overrated anyway so I don’t consider this a major con.

Related: 9 Tips to Politely Recline Your Airplane Seat

Different tray tables

Seats in the emergency exit row may have different types of armrests and tray tables than other economy seats.

A standard economy seat may have a tray that drops down from the seatback in front of it but some seats in the emergency exit row may have a tray table that pops out of the armrest.

This means that you will not be able to put the armrest up or down which could be more restrictive for some passengers.

Engine noise

If your exit row is located on or near a wing you may be subjected to louder engine noise. (The front of the plane is always going to be the quietest because you are in front of the engines.)

Some emergency exit rows are in front of the engines so this is not always a drawback.

Obstructed views

Once again if your exit row is on a wing your view out of the window may be largely obstructed from the wing.

If there is an empty seat next to the window, you also might have to stretch out to even catch a window view.

emergency exit row view
Emergency exit row view on Southwest.

Under seat luggage

Depending on the aircraft and airline, you may have issues trying to store your belongings underneath the seat in front of you when sitting in the emergency exit row. Some airlines seem to allow it while others may prevent you from putting anything under the seat.

This means you will have to store all of your carry-on and personal items in the overhead storage bin similar to if you were sitting in the bulkhead.

Outside of takeoff and landing, you may be able to store your belongings under the seat as long as they do not protrude.

Longer wait to get off the plane

Since you will be seated in the middle of the plane you will not be one of the first people to exit the aircraft.

In fact, you could be among the last to get off the plane.

We once arrived in a Caribbean destination when seated in the emergency exit row and the plane deplaned from both the front and the back.

This forced us to be among the very last passengers off the plane which was not very fun because there was a soul-crushing long line for immigration when we finally exited the aircraft.

Extra instructions

This is not the biggest deal to a lot of people but if you are in an emergency exit row you might have to listen to extra instructions about what to do in the event of an emergency.

One thing that I have seen happen (on several occasions) is someone jamming out with their headphones on and getting called out by the flight attendant who is trying to brief the passengers on what they might have to do.

Extra (legal) responsibility

While you might have more room to spread out your legs, by sitting in the emergency exit row you are forced to assume extra duties that could be vitally important.

In a worst-case scenario, your actions could mean the difference between someone living or dying and so your decision to sit in the emergency exit row should not be taken lightly.

There also might be legal implications to your decision to sit in those seats — you could be sued for negligence, for example. So once again you should think through your choice thoroughly.

emergency exit sign

Where is the emergency exit row?

There are two types of emergency exits: over-wing exits and full-sized exit doors.

The over-wing exit rows are going to be located in the middle of the plane (where the wing is attached) and will usually be a smaller window exit. Meanwhile, the full-sized exit door rows will typically be found towards the front or back of the plane (but sometimes can be near the middle).

Because of the different aircraft and multiple exits, there is no way to predict if you will be in an emergency exit row based solely on your row number.

Instead, you will have to check the seat map for your specific aircraft. You can do this with a website called SeatGuru but you can also often view the emergency exit rows whenever you are selecting your seat with the airline.

Below are four different examples with the different aircraft. You’ll see a 787 Dreamliner from United, A321 from JetBlue, 737 from Southwest, and an A350 from Delta. Notice how on the Southwest 737 the exit rows are over the wing but they are not like that with the other aircraft.

Emergency exit row locations
Seat maps via

Rules for the emergency exit row

Not everyone can sit in the emergency exit row.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are preboarding you will not be allowed to sit in the exit rows (there are some exceptions).

But there are also specific instances outlined by the FAA that spell out exactly who is not allowed.

Based on 14 CFR § 121.585(b), there are situations where individuals may not be allowed to sit in the emergency exit row.

The reason is that they may not have the ability to successfully complete the duties talked about below.

The situations where you may not be allowed in the exit row include the following.

Mobility issues

If “[t]he person lacks sufficient mobility, strength, or dexterity in both arms and hands, and both legs” they may not be allowed because they may have issues performing the emergency exit duties.

The lack of mobility provision could apply to people who are severely overweight and struggle to move around quickly or in tight spaces.

Note: If you need a seatbelt extender some flight attendants may ask you to choose a different seat from the exit row.

Under the age of 15

If the individual is “less than 15 years of age or lacks the capacity to perform one or more of the applicable functions [ . . . ] without the assistance of an adult companion, parent, or other relative” they may not be seated in the emergency exit row.

This is a major reason why unaccompanied minors are not allowed in these seats.

Reading comprehension

If “[t]he person lacks the ability to read and understand instructions… in printed or graphic form or the ability to understand oral crew commands” they may be unable to be seated.

A lot of airlines will want to make sure that passengers in the emergency exit row can read and understand the native language of the home country of the airline.

I am assuming that if someone is illiterate this could also disqualify them.

Visual issues

There is also a restriction for sight.

If a passenger “lacks sufficient visual capacity to perform one or more of the applicable functions… without the assistance of visual aids beyond contact lenses or eyeglasses” they aren’t allowed in the emergency exit row.

In other words, if you have a visual impairment, you’re not allowed to sit in the emergency exit row.

Hearing issues

Also, if you have hearing issues, that can be significant enough to keep you out of the exit row as the statute states the passenger cannot lack “sufficient aural capacity to hear and understand instructions shouted by flight attendants, without assistance beyond a hearing aid.”

Communication skills

And finally you won’t be able to stay in the emergency exit row if you lack “the ability adequately to impart information orally to other passengers.”

I take this to mean that if you have severe cognitive deficiencies, you may not be able to be seated in the exit row.

Note that some airlines have their own requirements that they publish. They usually follow along with federal law but may have additional requirements. You can check out the Southwest rules here.

Emergency exit door

What are the emergency exit row duties?

So assuming that you are qualified to sit in the emergency exit row, what could you be expected to do in the event of something going wrong?

Well, you’re not exactly expected to be Captain America but the statute lists 10 different duties you could expect.

These include being called upon to:

  • Locate the emergency exit;
  • Recognize the emergency exit opening mechanism;
  • Comprehend the instructions for operating the emergency exit;
  • Operate the emergency exit;
  • Assess whether opening the emergency exit will increase the hazards to which passengers may be exposed;
  • Follow oral directions and hand signals given by a crewmember;
  • Stow or secure the emergency exit door so that it will not impede use of the exit;
  • Assess the condition of an escape slide, activate the slide, and stabilize the slide after deployment to assist others in getting off the slide;
  • Pass expeditiously through the emergency exit; and
  • Assess, select, and follow a safe path away from the emergency exit.

It’s really important to consider what these duties would entail in practice.

It’s not just about pulling a lever to open the door but there are actual needs for judgment calls to be made.

Are you someone who does okay that type of pressure or would you fold like a lawn chair?

Some passengers might feel safer sitting by the emergency exit because they could presumably be the first people out of the plane in the event of something like a fire.

But if you were to exit that quickly you might be forced to neglect some of the duties you would be called upon to do like stowing the emergency exit door.

Again, you could be sued for negligence.

If you are wondering what it would be like when an emergency exit door is being opened, check out the videos below and they will give you a pretty good picture of what it will look like.

Here’s a video of a window exit being opened:

Here’s a video of an emergency slide being deployed:

Final word

Personally, I am a major fan of the emergency exit rows. I have flown in them many times especially when flying Southwest. For certain people that value legroom and extra privacy it can be well worth it to pay a little bit extra for them but in the back of your head you should always think about what you might be called upon to do in the event of an emergency.

American Airlines Boarding Groups Guide (Get The Best Seats!) [2023]

The boarding process for American Airlines is very similar to most other major airlines, such as United Airlines boarding. Below, I’ll show you how the American Airlines boarding groups work, including things like the boarding order and how to make sure you have room for your carry-on bags. 

I’ll then tell you everything you need to know about things like check-in and checked baggage so you’ll know when you can get to the airport and check your bags before your plane closes for boarding.

How do American Airlines boarding groups work?

American Airlines has a total of nine boarding groups and at the time of boarding each group should be called up individually. Note that it’s possible that each group might not get called up individually.

For example, sometimes agents might lump several groups together. So it’s a good idea to always monitor when you think you should be boarding.

Below are all of the different American Airlines boarding groups and the different types of passengers who will board.


If you are a passenger requiring assistance, such as an unaccompanied minor you’ll be able to board with American Airlines pre-boarding. (If you need to make special travel arrangements, you can make them online or call 800-433-7300.)

Pre-boarding is also where those with ConciergeKey members (the highest elite level) are allowed to board along with Five Star customers. However, those who need assistance getting in their seat should be called before elite members.

Boarding Group 1

First class or two cabin international Business class passengers will board in Group 1. Two cabin business class planes are those aircraft without a “true” first class (i.e, the highest class on the aircraft is business class).

Also, after a recent change, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members will board in this group.

Other passengers who can board with Group 1 are those active duty U.S. military members with military I.D.

Boarding Group 2

Group 2 allows those to board with Platinum Pro or those who have oneworld Emerald elite status. This is also where those business class passengers can board in those three cabin aircraft that do have first class.

Boarding Group 3

Group 3 allows those to board with Platinum or those who have oneworld Sapphire elite status.

Boarding Group 4

Group 4 allows those to board with American Airlines Gold and oneworld Ruby status. It also offer boarding to those with Air Pass and passengers flying Premium Economy.

If you hold the premium Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard you can also board with Group 4. This is the premium AA credit card issued by Citi that comes with Admiral’s Club access and additional AA perks like priority check-in, priority airport screening (where available), in-flight savings, and free checked baggage.

This card also offers a pretty decent sign-up bonus at times so it can be one of the best ways to rack up a lot of AA miles in a hurry.  

If you purchased Priority Boarding, you can also board with Group 4. The cost for Priority boarding can be from $9 to $74. Unless you’re flying on a Basic Economy fare, you can buy Priority for your trip on American marketed and operated flights during the following times:

  • Check-in on
  • Check-in at an airport kiosk
  • Through Reservations before departure.

Boarding Group 5

Group 5 is known as “Preferred Boarding.”

If you are flying Main Cabin Extra, you can board with this group and if you are an eligible corporate traveler you can also board with Group 5. (Main Cabin Extra is essentially economy with extra legroom and perks like complimentary alcohol on board.)

Finally, if you have an eligible AAdvantage credit card like the Aviator Red or the Citi Platinum Select, you’ll get preferred boarding. Cards like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select also offer you complimentary checked baggage for domestic flights for you and several companions. If you do a lot of flying on American that can save you a lot of money.

In case you’re wondering, here are all of the eligible cards that will get you preferred boarding:

  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
  • CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select American Express Card
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select Visa Signature
  • AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard
  • AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard
  • AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard

Group 5 is great because you shouldn’t have issues with overhead storage space. On a couple of recent flights I took, I had Group 5 boarding, and we had plenty of space in the overhead storage bins — it wasn’t an issue at all.

Boarding Groups 6 through 8

Group 6 consists of Coach Groups and then also Basic Economy on longhaul transoceanic flights. Basic Economy is the class that doesn’t allow you many perks like selecting a seat.

Group 6 boarding is when things start to get a little tricky with overhead storage space. It all depends on certain factors like how many elite travelers there are on your flight. You will often be able to find overhead storage space in Group 6 and even Group 7 but it might not always be right where you’re sitting.

Once you get higher up into Group 8, finding overhead storage space becomes much more difficult and you might have to gate check your bag in some cases.

Related: Airline Overhead Storage Bin Etiquette Guide

Boarding Group 9

Group 9 consists of Basic Economy within the U.S., Canada, Mexico & Caribbean. You will be the last to board the plane so as you can probably expect, finding overhead storage space can be very difficult to impossible.

H/T: Flyertalk

American Airlines plane on the tarmac

Missing your boarding group

If you are a higher boarding group and you arrive when a later boarding group is boarding you should be able to enter through your lane and bypass their line. For example, let’s say you’re a business class passenger who can board in Group 2.

Now let’s say that you were hanging out in the lounge and lost track of time and now they are calling for Group 5 when you arrive. You should be able to bypass any other groups and simply make your way to the gate agent in that case.

A polite way to do this is to head to the front of your boarding group line and then try to signal to the gate agent that you have a higher boarding group pass. This will allow you to cut the line without potentially causing an unwanted confrontation with other passengers.

Some people argue that you should just join the current line instead of cutting but that is a matter that is open for debate.

Boarding with other groups

If there are other members in your party that you’d like to board with this shouldn’t be a problem as long as you are moving “down.”

For example, if someone with a Group 3 boarding pass wants to board with Group 5 that should be okay. However, if someone with a Group 5 wants to board with Group 3 that would not be allowed.

American Airlines boarding group sign
American Airlines boarding groups.

How early should I get to the airport for American Airlines?

American Airlines states that you should arrive two hours before your flight for a domestic flight and three hours before your flight for an international flight.

That’s usually a pretty good rule of thumb, but I would also recommend to consider whether or not you have to check bags or not. If you’re not checking in bags you can often shave off 15 to 30 minutes for your arrival time.

Also, if you can rely on things like TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR you can shave some more time off your arrival.

Related: How Early Should You Get to the Airport?

When can I check in for an American Airlines flight?

If you’re like me and you enjoy getting to the airport early, you’ll probably want to know how early you can check-in for your flight.

You can check-in online or from the app starting 24 hours before and up to 45 minutes before departure (90 minutes for international).

When can I check my bags for American Airlines?

When checking your bags at the airport there are two deadlines you need to know about.

The first is the latest that you can check your bags and the second is the earliest that you can check your bags. By the way, if you are looking for information about American Airlines baggage fees click here.

The latest you can check your bags

To check bags at the airport, you must be there a certain amount of time before scheduled departure.

If you are flying within the United States, you’ll need to check your bags at least 45 minutes prior to departure. If you’re flying to or from destinations outside the U.S., you’ll need to check your bags at least 60 minutes prior to departure. 

But note that some airports require you to check your bags even sooner before departure. Check out the rules from the airports below (supplied by American Airlines).

Airport locationAirport codeCheck-in before scheduled departure
ArubaAUA75 minutes
Barcelona, SpainBCN75 minutes
Buenos Aires, ArgentinaEZE75 minutes
Dublin, IrelandDUB75 minutes
Georgetown, GuyanaGEO90 minutes
Madrid, SpainMAD75 minutes
Paris, FranceCDG75 minutes
San Juan, Puerto RicoSJU60 minutes
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin IslandsSTX90 minutes
St. Kitts and NevisSKB90 minutes
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin IslandsSTT90 minutes
Tampa, Florida
Applies only to the Consolidated Rental Car Center
TPA90 minutes
Tel Aviv, IsraelTLV75 minutes

The earliest you can check your bags

The earliest you can check your bags in will depend on the airport.

Generally, I try to check my bags in no earlier than four hours — this is a common deadline for many airlines and some might even impose a three hour deadline.

If an airline allows you to check bags earlier than 4 hours before departure consider that you are increasing the odds of your baggage getting lost by handing them over way before the airline typically has a standard procedure for them (just something to think about).

You can’t check bags more than 4 hours before departure when flying from the following airports:

  • Charleston (CHS)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Kahului (OGG)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Portland, Oregon (PDX)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
Honolulu (HNL) is one of several locations where you can’t check your bags earlier than four hours prior to your flight time.

When will American Airlines board the plane?

The time for boarding an American Airlines plane depends on what type of aircraft that you’re flying on.

For the most part, flights will start boarding 30 to 50 minutes before the scheduled departure. Generally, the larger the aircraft or the farther the destination, the sooner the boarding will begin.

Here are some estimated boarding times based on destination via Flyertalk. Keep in mind that these could differ based on your actual flight and boarding could occur earlier.

50 minutes prior to departure

From/To the United States and:

  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • Asia
  • South American destinations: Asuncion, PY; Brasilia, BR; Belo Horizonte, BR; Curitiba, Br; Buenos Aires, AR; Rio de Janeiro, BR; Sao Paulo, BR; Lima, PE; Montevideo, UY; Porto Alegre, BR; Recife, BR; Salvador, BR; Santiago, CL; Sao Paulo Viracop, BR

45 minutes prior to departure

From/To the United States and:

  • Caribbean
  • Central America
  • Hawaii
  • Mexico
  • South American destinations: La Paz, BO; Santa Cruz, BO; Maracaibo, VE; Caracas, VE; Bogota, CO; Cali, CO; Medellin, CO; Guayaquil, EC; Quito, EC

35 minutes prior to departure

Domestic on these aircraft types: A321, A321S, A330, B757, B767, B787, B777

  • Within the 48 contiguous states
  • Alaska
  • Canada

30 minutes prior to departure

Domestic on these aircraft types: A319, A320, A321T, E190, S80, B737

  • Within the 48 contiguous states
  • Alaska
  • Canada
Boarding gate area for American Airlines
Boarding group for American Airlines.

After you check your bags and get through security you will need to wait until the plane begins the boarding process. You can find the estimated boarding time on your boarding pass.

Just note that this time is subject to change depending on the status of delays. In addition, it’s always possible that your gate could change as well so always keep your eye on the monitors.

When to arrive at the gate

You need to make sure you arrive at the gate 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure for flights departing from points within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands.

For flights departing from points outside the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands, i.e., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Central/South America, Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, make sure you arrive 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure.

If you are not at the gate at that time, it’s possible that they will give your seat to someone else. The doors close 10 minutes before departure and you will not be allowed to board once the doors close.

Note: In the event you are coming from a connecting flight that was late, keep in mind the flight attendants will hold the door open for you — at least for a short while.

Coronavirus changes

If you are boarding a flight during the pandemic, don’t be surprised if you are asked to maintain 6 feet apart from other passengers while awaiting boarding. In addition, you will likely be required to wear a mask while waiting in the boarding area.

Related: American Airlines Lost and Found Guide

American Airlines Boarding FAQ

How can I get priority boarding on American Airlines?

You can get priority boarding by having elite status or flying in certain cabins such as business class.

You can also get priority boarding with Group 4 if you have the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

When do Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select members board?

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select cardmembers get to board with Group 5 which is known as “preferred boarding.”

When does business class board?

If you are flying internationally on a two cabin business class aircraft you will be able to board with group one.

How many boarding groups does American Airlines have?

There are a total of 10 boarding groups if you include pre-boarding.

Can I board with other groups?

You can board with other groups as long as you are boarding with a group that is lower than your initial boarding group.

For example, if you are in Group 5 you can board with Group 6 but not Group 4.

When does basic economy board?

Basic economy will be the very last to board and they will board with Group 9.

What happens if I miss my boarding group?

If you miss your boarding group, you should still be able to board as soon as you arrive to the boarding area (assuming that you arrive while the gate is still open).

When does boarding start?

Boarding will usually begin about 30 to 50 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time.

Final word 

The boarding process with American Airlines is pretty straight forward. There are many ways to get Preferred Boarding (Group 5) and those should allow you to have overhead storage bin space without much issue so I would generally try to get into that group.

Alaska Airlines Lost and Found Guide (What to Expect) [2023]

Have you recently lost or misplaced an item while traveling on Alaska Airlines? Well then you are in luck, our comprehensive guide to help you locate your item is exactly what you need. It can be very stressful to lose an item during your travels and unless the right steps are taken and taken quickly, the chances of recovering your item diminish considerably.

The important thing is to remain calm and take the necessary steps outlined in our comprehensive guide below to ensure that you have the best possible chance of being united with your lost item.

Alaska Airlines’ lost and found policy

People lose items while traveling on Alaska Airlines frequently so they have proper protocols and staff in place to look into helping their passengers recover their belongings.

The immediate step

Did you leave your belonging in the aircraft cabin itself? If you have and you are still in the aircraft, do not leave the aircraft. Due to increased security protocols in place these days, once you leave the aircraft you cannot go back in. Patiently make your way back to your seat and search it as thoroughly as possible. 

If you’re reading this article, however, chances are you have already left the aircraft.

In the event that you have left the aircraft but are still near the arrival gate, immediately make your way back to the gate area and get hold of an Alaska Airline official. Usually, these people have access to the aircraft or know someone who does have access.

Give this person all the information on what your item looks like and give them your seat number. If they send someone back immediately and find your item you might be able to get it back right then and there.

In other situations, if they find it later the staff will follow the lost and found protocols and may forward the item to the airline or airport’s lost and found counter.

The reason why I am constantly urging you to do things immediately is that there is a short window of opportunity before it becomes more and more unlikely that you will find your lost belongings. Anyone from the crew, cleaners to the other passengers may pocket your item.

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

You have left the aircraft but not the airport

If you are still in the airport premises but can’t make your way back to the aircraft arrival gate then your most prudent line of action is to immediately find an Alaska Airline counter and get hold of the staff there. The Alaska staff is trained to help you with starting the lost and found recovery process.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You may want to get hold of the general airport staff instead of the Alaska Airline staff but it will be most likely counterproductive. In most cases, they will simply go through their own protocols and have you end up with the Alaska Airlines staff because that is the aircraft you arrived on. Needless to say that the only thing this will have achieved is to have wasted precious time.

You may be asking why time is of so much importance here. Well, since the Covid-19 pandemic, aircraft are thoroughly sanitized by larger cleaning staff. The longer it takes for officials to be alerted about your missing item the more people go through your seat.

Now, these people are usually very professional and if they find any unusual items on or around a seat they report it immediately. Having said that, in real life, not everyone is as honest.

Related: Airlines & Airports Lost & Found Tips (Ultimate Guide)

Alaska Airlines baggage services counters

The next plan of action is to locate the Alaska Baggage Services counter. You can find them easily by going to any information desk usually spread throughout airports.

While Alaska Airlines baggage services counters primarily deal with things like lost luggage, the staff at these counters may help you even when you have lost something on a plane.

Usually, they will ask you to fill out either this form or a printed version of it. This is also the form you can fill out if you have already left at the airport.

You must enter as much detail as possible in this form regarding both your travel and the item itself.

On your travel details mention your flight number, arrival/departure time, boarding airport final destination (if you are in transit), seat number, etc.

It is also important to give as much information as you have on hand like: make, model, color, serial number, etc. Any distinguishing marks such as scratches or customization marks on the body can quickly help confirm to the authorities that the item indeed belongs to you.

Note: If the staff has not been able to find your item while you are at the airport, make sure you are very clear on the next steps before you leave the airport. Ask the staff about the next procedural steps, local contact details (phone, email, etc), when you should follow up, policies on lost and found, etc.

You can visit this page to find the phone number(s) of every Alaska Airlines local agent for all US airports and if you are unable to reach them for any reason you can call the system-wide baggage support office for general assistance at 1-877-815-8253. The working hours are daily between 6:00 am – 10:00 pm (PT).

Items left at the TSA Security Checkpoint

In the event that you feel you have misplaced your items in the above-mentioned areas instead of the aircraft then you have to make your way to the TSA security staff as these specific areas come under the jurisdiction of the TSA.

TSA has its own Lost and Found department at all US airports and you can find the contact details for the relevant one here.

TSA has officially partnered with Rejjee to help you find lost items misplaced in TSA’s jurisdiction. The service is absolutely free and easy to use and you can file an online report to start the process.

Related: What Happens if Your Item Is Not Allowed Through TSA Security? Can You Get It Back?

For items lost in and about the airport facility

In the event that you have not misplaced the item on a flight or any of the TSA designated areas mentioned above then your lost item will probably find its way to the airport’s Lost and Found Counter… yes each airport authority also has its own lost and found department it may be associated with the airport police department.

The general staff at the airport will be able to assist you to find this counter. In any case, even if you have registered a complaint with the airline or the TSA, it is a good idea to make your way to the airport Lost and Found and search for your item here as well. In some cases, lost items in other areas have been known to turn up here.

If you are registering for a complaint here, again make sure you give as much detail as possible for these people to help locate your item. Remember that these people have their own dedicated contact numbers and emails so make sure you get a local person’s number and non-generic email before you leave the airport.

Responses on generic emails are usually slower versus those from a specific person who is aware of your case.

There is also a chance that you might have left your belongings at a local business at the airport such as a rental service or a restaurant. In this case, your best bet is to contact them directly as they will hold on to the item for a while in the event the owner shows up before they pass it on to the airport authorities.

What if you have left the airport?

Luckily, even if you have left the airport Alaska Airlines has the lost item form available online here. Filling it out and submitting it will automatically initiate the search procedure. But remember that you must do this within 14 days of having lost the item otherwise it is very unlikely that you will be seeing your belongings again.

Also if you happen to discover more details about your lost item like a serial number, after you have left the airport you can use this form to update the relevant information.

Traveling first or business class?

Traveling on first or business class has its own perks and one of them is the extra attention you get from the airline staff. 

Because airlines make extra effort to please passengers using their premium services or those passengers who are part of their frequent flyers clubs, it is a good idea to mention if you are using any of them.

Third-party services

There are also independent third-party Lost and Found services out there like Crowdfind but I normally don’t recommend you go to them… unless of course, they are officially working with your airline. If, however, your item is really valuable or very important to you these options are available.

How long will Alaska Airlines keep looking for your item?

Alaska will look for your item for a period of 30 days from the filing of the report. After that, they will send you an email informing you that the search was unsuccessful.

Final word

The odds of finding a lost item at airports are generally better than in other places due to the extra security in place these days. Also, if you act quickly and follow the right steps that we have outlined in the guide above your chances of finding your lost item increase greatly.

I wish you the best of luck in recovering whatever it is that you have lost.

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