Alaska Airlines Boarding Groups — Everything You Need To Know

Alaska Airlines boarding sign

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Although Alaska Airlines originally started in Anchorage, it is now headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and operates from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) as one of its 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.

It has even added some flights to Mexico and Central America from the Los Angeles (LAX) and San Diego (SAN) hubs, so you can get out of the U.S. as well.

Since its network is ever-expanding, its planes are comfortable, and its 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
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. Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

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

It starts with pre-boarding for a select group of passengers and then boards first class passengers before following with 5 lettered groups.

Alaska has streamlined its boarding pass, removing unnecessary information and increasing font size for important parts; 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 boarding information to the video monitors at the gate. As you can see above, the 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 its 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.


  • Guests with disabilities who need help or a little more time to board
  • Families with children under the age of 2
  • Active members of the military

First Class

Group A

  • Mileage Plan Million Miler
  • MVP Gold 100k
  • MVP Gold 75K
  • MVP Gold members
  • Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members

Group B

  • Mileage Plan MVP members
  • Oneworld Ruby 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

Group E

  • Guests in Saver seats

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 the 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 are the quickest way to build up your balance of miles. Image Credit: Jeffrey Brownson

Alaska Airlines 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 its partners, you may find yourself on an Alaska-operated flight connecting to your departure city. Knowing Alaska’s boarding process will help start your trip off right.

If you want to earn lots of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles so that 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 Mileage Plan also has a shopping portal and the airline often sells 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 1 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 2 credit cards that will help you earn Mileage Plan miles, and these cards are definitely worth getting.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit 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.

You could also opt to earn Marriott Bonvoy points with a card like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, as Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to Alaska at a 3:1 rate and with 5,000 bonus Alaska miles when you transfer at least 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

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 the airline 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 its 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!

The information regarding the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

Frequently asked questions

How many boarding groups are there on Alaska Airlines?

There are 5 lettered boarding groups (A to E) on Alaska Airlines. In addition, Alaska Airlines allows certain passengers to preboard the plane, and it also allows its 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 preboard 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 B on Alaska Airlines includes Mileage Plan MVP members, guests in premium class seats, and Oneworld Ruby members.

Who is in Group B on Alaska Airlines?

Boarding Group B on Alaska Airlines includes Mileage Plan MVP members, guests in premium class seats, and Oneworld Ruby members.

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 guests who are not elite members or premium class passengers and are seated in the front half of the aircraft.

Who is in Group E on Alaska Airlines?

Boarding Group E on Alaska Airlines includes guests who are not elite members and have booked a Saver class ticket.

Jarrod West

About Jarrod West

Jarrod first became fascinated with the world of points and miles as the perfect way to visit dream destinations without breaking the bank. On his first major award trip, he spent 3 months traveling through Europe, financed nearly entirely with points; while flying in premium cabins and staying in 5-star hotels along the way. Now, he is on a mission to help others realize their travel goals and upgrade their travel experiences. Jarrod has been writing about credit cards and travel loyalty programs for 4 years, and his work has been featured by Travel and Leisure, Matador Network, Yahoo Finance, and U.S. News.

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