Is this rude? Skipping the regular line for the priority line.

aadvantageWhat is the etiquette when you get to your gate after the priority groups have boarded? Is it rude to  head to the priority line and board in front of the people in later groups? Reader B asks….

I got into an argument with my sister last week about travel etiquette and I thought you could help decide  who is right. I travel for work fairly often and have Platinum status with American. My sister also travels for work but less than I do and she is very sensitive to people’s feelings, almost to a fault. She says that if she gets to her gate and priority boarding is over, she will go to the regular line  and wait to board. I go to the priority line even if they are boarding a later group. She says that’s cutting! I say she is too sensitive. Who is right??

That is a very interesting question! I’ve seen people go both ways, and  while I also like to think I am sensitive to people’s feelings I just go to the priority line. Maybe it’s cutting in some way, but I feel it’s expected and “legal”, if you will.

Certainly if your sister thinks it’s rude then she can do whatever she wants. But I wouldn’t feel guilty or bad for going to the priority lane. After all, if you had been there early enough you would have boarded with the priority group ahead of all of those  people anyway.

People have  all kinds of opinions about when the best time to board is. My preference is to get on board early–that way I can ensure there is a place  for my bag, get  settled in, and finish up any work I need to do before taking off.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Is it rude to skip the regular line if  you missed priority boarding? Or are you entitled to do that if you have status?


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  1. I don’t think boarding late and “skipping” the line is rude. I travel weekly for work and have platinum status on Delta, so I do appreciate boarding early to wrap up that last piece of work, guarantee I will not have to check my bag, etc. What I do find rude is travelers with status boarding early and taking more than their fair share of the overhead bin space. Because I do board early, I see so many put their small laptop bags and coats up, with a total disregard for other passengers that will need the space for their rollerboards. And when the flight attendants ask to put the bag beneath their seat, they refuse! If you’re going to board early, don’t be selfish with the space!

  2. Not at all. Why even waste time standing around waiting in the priority line. I try and turn up when boarding is underway and speed theough vis the priority line without stopping. For business travellers hanging around in queues is time and money. The less time in the airport the better.

  3. Most gate agents open the priority line first. Then they open the regular line while keeping the priority line open. That’s the key point – priority never shuts down so you can always use it.
    It’s the same with boarding groups. You can cut to the front of the line if your group has already boarded (even on Southwest). By definition you get priority over those in a later group.

  4. You are not skipping. You could have arrived at the gate after boarding began for any number of reasons, many outside of your control. You earned that Platinum status and the benefits it entails. You keep doing what you’re doing. Sis can do what she wants, but you are absolutely not wrong.

  5. I also agree it’s ok to skip the line. I stay loyal to certain airlines due to the status and perks like these.

    What really annoys me is when the get to the gate and it is mobbed and therefore difficult to even get to the priority line. I’ve literally had to kinda push (always trying to be polite, excuse me, etc) my way though at times which is a bit ridiculous. Especially if I have paid for business or first.

  6. You’ve earned the status, so I say go ahead down the priority lane! You shouldn’t have to be punished for not being at the gate early. Sometimes it’s best to spend that extra few minutes in the Admirals Club, and then just scroll down the priority lane and get right on the plane, unless you have a bag you need to put overhead, at least.

    I hear passengers in economy that don’t seem to fly much groan and complain about priority boarding and overhead space, but I don’t feel sorry for them at all because a credit card with a $95 annual fee waived the first year can solve that issue!

  7. Interesting conversation. I’ve always joined the long line thinking I missed my opportunity to use the priority line.

  8. Heavens no, it’s not rude! Nowhere are there ‘rules’ saying “You can board in the Priority Line only if you are there when the agent opens that line.”

  9. I fly every week for work. Every. Single. Week. I’m at 78 segments as of June 20th of this year. Frequently, boarding starts early and I’m not at the gate. I have no qualms about using the priority lane during general boarding.

  10. Nope not rude in my estimation either. I’ve earned priority status. And I want to be able to get good positioning for my bag and settle in.
    It’s the system.

  11. No, it is your right to use the Priority AAccess lane at *any time* after your boarding group is called if you have status or other qualifier. Why else would there be a dedicated priority lane? (It also is outlined in your elite benefits guide.)

  12. Checking in for a flight yesterday and checking my one world benefits, I came across wording on the AA website in the FAQ section – question was what if I miss priority boarding, and the answer was that the priority boarding lane can be used at any time during boarding. So not rude at all.

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