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Priority boarding with United credit cards – how it really works

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This article was last updated Jul 16, 2013, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.


United likes to show off the Priority Boarding feature of its credit cards in its prolific ‘You’re In’  TV ads and descriptions of benefits.

However be aware United recently changed its boarding procedures and as a result we’ve been getting a lot of questions from people with the United and Continental credit cards on how their priority boarding works. The reality is you’re not going to be the very first to board the plane, but will have the ability to board before most flyers.

Here are the details of how these Zones fit in the grand scheme of boarding…

  • Pre-Boarding: Customers with disabilities, then Global Services and uniformed military personnel
  • Group 1: Global Services, Premier 1K, Premier Platinum, premium cabins
  • Group 2: Premier Gold, Star Gold, Premier Silver, Star Silver, The United MileagePlus Presidential PlusSM Card*, the United℠ Explorer Card and Awards cardholders
  • Groups 3-5: General boarding – Window seats (Group 3), Middle seats (Group 4), Aisle seats (Group 5).

So, when you’re at the gate, wait patiently for your Group number, in Group 2 there should be plenty of overhead bin space available unless it’s a very, very business traveler heavy flight.

Also remember — you need to input your MileagePlus® frequent flyer number when making your reservation for the benefit to show up. Waving your credit card at the gate agent isn’t going to help. The only way they can verify it’s valid is to have the Group number printed on the boarding pass.

If it’s not showing up on your boarding pass properly, please contact Chase to get the right folks at United involved. There were glitches in United’s computer system that were showing the wrong boarding zone, but those have mostly been resolved.

*The information related to the United MileagePlus Presidential PlusSM Card*  has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. Note: The United MileagePlus Presidential PlusSM Card is no longer available.

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