When Is The Best Time to Board when Flying in a Premium Cabin?

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On a recent transcontinental flight, boarding began 50 minutes prior to departure starting with business class passengers (as this was a two cabin aircraft). I boarded with the premium cabin and took my seat and waited… and waited… and waited… About 5 minutes prior to pushback were pre-departure beverages brought.

This was on a 757 aircraft where boarding took place at 2L meaning coach passengers couldn’t walk through the premium cabin and try to take the overhead bins.

For comparison, my seat mate boarded 5 minutes prior to pushback, was one of the last passengers onboard, had time for a pre-departure beverage and then we pushed back.

Had I boarded later, would have meant more time relaxing in the lounge.

What factors should you consider when deciding when should board?

  • Aircraft type
  • Which boarding door will be used
  • Airport lounges that you can utilize
  • How full the aircraft will be
  • Does the aircraft offer gate to gate wifi
  • How aggressive is the airline with gate checking luggage.

Are there other factors you consider when deciding when to board?

So I ask you? When seated in the premium cabin, do you like to be one of the first passengers onboard to store your bags, or would you rather have the aircraft full, so when you get one you’re ready to push back and take off? 

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  1. I would say that 90% of the time Delta offers a pre push drink, and I like to enjoy one before we leave, so I usually board early.

  2. I would think one of your factors would be: What are you carrying and need to stow overhead?

  3. If first, first one on.
    If business or economy, I’m the last one on. Hate waiting in those lines…

    Worst case scenario – in economy, I’ll gate check my carry on.

    Only exception to this rule is of course – Southwest.

  4. I’m always ready to get on board first in first class. The problem is that my friends I’m traveling with are usually slower than me. I always want a pre-flight drink, but often they aren’t offered. I’m just grateful I’m not back in economy.

  5. I always board as early as possible, store my stuff, get a drink and relax. I don’t want to deal with the lines and crowds. And – lounge or plane – I’m waiting anyway, so might ad well settle in and relax….

  6. I am usually on AA and way too many times the plane has boarded early and the door closed early so I just get there early now. The fun part is cutting to the front of the line via the priority lane. I always try to get on as soon as F is boarding and get settled in.

  7. I work for a non-profit, thus I have never paid for a first class seat. I can only imagine how much nicer it would be to be in First Class for my occasional jaunts around the world, but it is what it is…and we still live in an amazing time with amazing technology so I don’t fret about it.

    Yet, I do have Platinum status on American due to my citicard. In my busier times of the year, I will travel an average of 2 round trips per month, which usually ends up being around 8 total flights since I almost always have to connect both directions via DFW or ORD.

    Generally speaking, my rule of thumb is I hang in the Admirals lounge until I can time it just right to arrive at the gate 5 minutes before they begin the boarding process. Then, I board as soon as they let me. Im always Group 4 under AA’s latest grouping guidelines (which means only about 3% of the other passengers board before me anyway so I have plenty of overhead stowage space to chose from).

    So regardless of the flight’s particulars, I usually don’t even get offered a drink since I’m usually seated just past the first class cabin.
    2 things though:
    1) This method still allows me to not be in a rush, and I can get settled comfortably and stress free. Usually I will start a downloaded movie on my iPad and put on sound dampening headphones and chill.
    2) I also like keeping a watchful eye for people settling near me who are traveling with a bag that is heavier then they can lift over their head. The good Lord has blessed me with very good health, so its no problem for me to hop up to help fellow passengers ….most often ladies or seniors…with lifting their bags. This both serves my fellow traveler, while also preventing them from accidentally injuring themselves or others. ( I have to say that I would prefer people not make a big deal about it when I help them, but I guess this has become uncommon. Come on men, let’s make chivalry normal again!) HOWEVER, on a couple of occasions the flight crew has noticed my efforts, and actually offered me a beverage anyway as a way of saying thanks for helping out. So ya never know….

  8. If I am unfortunate enough to have a bulk head seat then I get on early to make sure there is room overhead for my ‘large’ briefcase. If not, I’m almost always one of the last on because even up front the seats are not that comfortable.

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