Alaska Airlines Boarding Groups — Everything You Need to Know

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Although Alaska Airlines originally started in Anchorage, they are now headquartered in Seattle, Washington and operate SEA as one of their main hubs.

With flights to over 115 destinations and most of that traffic originating on the West Coast, Alaska Airlines is growing to be a favorite of many U.S. travelers.

From the Eastern half of the country, flights with Alaska Airlines only go west, so flying with them is somewhat limited for those of us on the East Coast.

If you happen to live on the West Coast, however, Alaska Airlines can be a great option for you to travel to many locations throughout the U.S., including several flights to Alaska and Hawaii.

They have even added some flights to Mexico and Central America from the Los Angeles and San Diego hubs, so you can get out of the U.S. as well.

Since their network is ever-expanding, their planes are comfortable, and their service is friendly, it’s reasonable to assume that many of us will end up on an Alaska Airlines flight at some point within the next few years.

When that time comes, we want you to be ready with everything you need to know to start your trip off stress-free.

To make that happen, we’re going over all of the details of the Alaska Airlines boarding process so you can easily get ready to fly.

Alaska Airlines Boarding Groups

Alaska Airlines Boarding Screen
New video monitor screens make it easy for Alaska Airlines passengers to see the status of their flight’s boarding process as soon as they walk up to the gate. Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines uses a group boarding procedure that is one of the most straightforward of all of the airlines.

They start with pre-boarding for a select group of passengers, and then board first class passengers before following with 4 lettered groups.

Compared to what we’ve seen with American (3 pre-boarding groups and 9 numbered groups) or Delta (3 named and 4 numbered zones), the Alaska boarding process is really easy to follow.

But easy apparently wasn’t good enough for Alaska Airlines. In July 2018, Alaska Airlines made a couple of changes to their boarding process with a goal of making it even more clear for their passengers.

First, they streamlined their boarding passes. Unnecessary information was removed, larger fonts were used for important parts, and the pass was reorganized so that finding what you need is easier to do with just a glance.

In addition to the boarding pass enhancements, Alaska Airlines added new boarding information to the video monitors at the gate. As you can see above, the new boarding video screen clearly shows exactly where in the boarding process the flight is.

Previously, if you walked up to the gate after boarding was started, you would need to ask other passengers which group was boarding or wait and try to hear the next announcement. This solves that in a simple and straightforward way.

The new video notifications are also great in a noisy gate area where it can be hard to hear a gate agent’s announcements.

Now that we’ve seen how easy Alaska Airlines has made it for their passengers to board by groups, let’s take a look at who is eligible for each group so you know just when to get on the plane.

Preboarding

First Class

  • Guests seated in first class

Group A

  • Mileage Plan Million Miler
  • MVP Gold 75K
  • MVP Gold members

Group B

  • Mileage Plan MVP members
  • Guests in premium class seats

Group C

  • Remaining guests seated in the back half of the aircraft

Group D

  • Remaining guests seated in the front half of the aircraft

Boarding Notes

Alaska Airlines states that once boarding begins, groups will board in approximately 5 minute intervals. But in practice, we aren’t sure how accurate this timing will be.

The later groups of general boarding should have many more people than the first groups. If there are only a few elite members on a flight, will they really wait 5 minutes to board Group B? We don’t think so.

So although their planned 5 minutes between groups is a nice outline, you shouldn’t go wandering off to the bathroom if you are in group D — it may not really be another 15 minutes until you board.

How to Build up Your Alaska Airlines Miles Balance

Alaska Airlines Credit Cards
The co-branded Alaska Airlines Credit Cards from Bank of America are the quickest way to build up your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles balance. As an extra perk, you can get a card design with the beautiful Northern Lights to dress up your wallet a bit. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Brownson.

Alaska Airline’s Mileage Plan miles are one of the favorite currencies of miles and points travelers due to their great redemption values on some of Alaska’s partner airlines.

Even if you are flying on one of their partners, you may find yourself on an Alaska-operated flight connecting to your departure city. Knowing their boarding process will help start your trip off right.

If you want to earn lots of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles so you can start booking some awesome award flights, there are several ways to do so.

Of course, taking paid flights is a simple way to earn miles, but they also have a shopping portal and often sell miles at a heavy discount.

Hot Tip: Buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles during a sale can be a great way to top off a balance for an award you’ve been saving up for!

When you are ready to really turbo-charge your Mileage Plan miles earning, there is one clear way to go: Alaska Airlines co-branded credit cards. With sign-up bonuses that are easy to earn, you will have a lot more miles in very little time.

In conjunction with Bank of America, Alaska Airlines offers 3 credit cards that will help you earn Mileage Plan miles, and 2 of these cards are definitely worth getting.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card both have sign-up bonuses that involve not only large chunks of miles, but also discounted companion fares.

Hot Tip: Especially if you have a business and can get both of these cards, you can really build up your mileage balance quickly.

The third card, the Alaska Airlines Visa® Platinum Plus, comes with fewer benefits and a significantly lower bonus, so it really isn’t one we want to look at for earning Mileage Plan miles.

Final Thoughts

The combination of a straightforward group boarding process, easy-to-read boarding passes, and gate video screens with clear directions makes Alaska Airlines a leader when it comes to passenger-friendly boarding procedures.

Even if you don’t fly with them very often, matching up the clearly indicated group letter on your boarding pass to the green check or red dash on the video monitors is fairly obvious.

In busy airports, you no longer have to worry about hearing the muffled boarding announcements — if you walk up to the gate late, you’ll always know right where they are in the boarding process. Alaska Airlines really has made boarding easy for their passengers.

If you live on the West Coast, you are probably already familiar with how Alaska Airlines does things. For those on the East Coast, it might be a while until you find yourself on an Alaska Airlines flight. Either way, when it comes time to board, you should now know exactly what to do!


Featured Image: Courtesy of Shutterstock

FAQ

How many boarding groups are there on Alaska Airlines?

There are 4 lettered boarding groups (A-D) on Alaska Airlines. In addition, Alaska Airlines allows certain passengers to pre-board the plane, and they also allow their first class passengers to board ahead of the lettered boarding groups.

Are Alaska Airlines flights assigned seating?

Yes, Alaska Airlines flights have assigned seating. Seats can be selected when booking your ticket or anytime up until check-in. Premium seats are available for a fee, while other economy seats can be selected at no charge. Alaska Airlines agents at the airport can assist with seating assignments or changes after you have checked in for your flight.

Who is allowed to pre-board on Alaska Airlines?

Alaska Airlines offers pre-boarding for guests with disabilities who need help or a little more time to board, families with children under the age of 2, and active members of the military. If you fit into one of these groups and would like to take advantage of pre-boarding, just let the gate agent know.

When does first class board on Alaska Airlines?

On Alaska Airlines flights, first class passengers board the plane after pre-boarding has been completed and before the lettered groups begin boarding.

Who is in group A on Alaska Airlines?

Boarding group A on Alaska Airlines includes Mileage Plan Million Milers, MVP Gold 75K members, and MVP Gold members.

Who is in group B on Alaska Airlines?

Boarding group B on Alaska Airlines includes Mileage Plan MVP members and guests in premium class seats.

Who is in group C on Alaska Airlines?

Boarding group C on Alaska Airlines includes the remaining guests who are not elite members or premium class passengers and are seated in the back half of the aircraft.

Who is in group D on Alaska Airlines?

Boarding group D on Alaska Airlines includes the remaining guests who are not elite members or premium class passengers and are seated in the front half of the aircraft.

Jeff Brownson

About Jeff Brownson

Since discovering miles and points in 2010, Jeff has traveled to over 35 countries, flying in first class, business class, and sometimes even in coach. Whether he’s staying in a hostel dorm, or in a luxury suite at a 5 star hotel, Jeff is constantly looking for the best deal to make travel as close to free as possible.

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8 comments

  1. Michael · June 13, 2019 · Reply

    Do you still get early boarding if you are wearing a Timbres shirt, hat, etc?

    • Hi Michael,

      You can still receive early boarding for wearing Portland Timbers gear, but only on Alaska flights departing from PDX.

  2. Mercedes rodda · June 14, 2019 · Reply

    My son has cerebral palsy and has difficulties with walking and balance. I believe that is a factor for pre-boarding. There are 5 of us on the flight 8/31 7:20. Can we all pre-board?

    • Hi Mercedes,

      Please be advised that we have no affiliation with Alaska Airlines. We are Upgraded Points, a blog specializing in providing credit card and travel-related resources. In order to make arrangements for the pre-boarding of you and your familiy, you will need to contact Alaska Airlines directly.

  3. Benjamin Robles Sr · August 13, 2019 · Reply

    I am a disabled veteran walking with a cane. Do I qualify for pre-boarding?

  4. Teki Mapuche · September 4, 2019 · Reply

    Do AA top tier members (AAdvantage Executive Platinum) get priority when boarding Alaska flights? Is it like in all the other OneWorld alliance airlines (given the mutual miles recognition)?

    Thanks!

    • Andrew Kunesh · September 5, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Teki, Alaska Airlines is not in the Oneworld alliance—it’s simply a non-alliance partner for American. Unfortunately, Executive Platinum members no longer receive priority boarding on Alaska Airlines flights. Thanks!

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