If you’re flying on United Airlines, you may be able to purchase priority boarding for $9 on your next flight.
My biggest concern when traveling for business: missing out on overhead bin space.
There are few annoyances worse for the road warrior than boarding late and being forced to gate-check a bag. Thankfully, whenever I fly United I don’t have to worry…as long as I board early. But since that is not always possible I am increasingly traveling with only a small bag that can fit under my seat. Even first class overhead bins can fill up early.
And while boarding early is annoying (I always prefer to board last unless I am reviewing the onboard product), I’m just thankful for the opportunity–I’d hate to be in Group 4 or 5 and barely stand a chance at keeping my larger carry-on bag with me.
United is breaking out priority boarding from its Premier Access package, offering the perk on an a la carte basis. Initially, priority boarding will cost $9/flight, regardless of the flight. That $9 will get you Group 2 boarding, allowing you to board with:
- Premier Gold
- Star AllianceSM Gold
- Premier Silver
- Star Alliance Silver
- Customers who have purchased Premier Access
- United MileagePlus Explorer, Club, Presidential PlusSM and Awards Cardmembers
I certainly fear the “if everyone is elite, no one is elite” issue:
Yet $9 is still going to be worth it if you have an important carry-on bag you do not want to check.
This option will NOT be available on all flights. It will also not be available to Basic Economy customers. United tells me, “Availability is closely controlled based on flight, date, time of day and day-of-week restrictions.” I’m admittedly still skeptical, but United assures me:
We do not anticipate any significant impact on the current boarding group size.
I guess we will soon see.
This is a useful offer because it is cheap and because many customers do not need Premier Access because they already have PreCheck to clear airport security.
The key for this program’s success will be how carefully United limits the number of priority boarding positions it sells. But in the right circumstances, I can see where this purchase would make sense.