Iberia tail fin

When you travel on British Airways, American Airlines, United, Iberia, and Vueling, you’ll notice your ticket has a boarding group printed on it. This number, 1-5 is the priority by which you’ll asked to board the plane. Typically, boarding group 1 goes first and 5 goes last. Let’s have a look at how British Airways manage it.

Pre-boarding

The boarding group is entirely separate to pre-boarding, though. Passengers who require extra time or assistance boarding will always be offered the option to board before everyone else.

Your boarding group determines how many people walk the air bridge before you

Boarding Group 1

Short-haul
Club Europe (Business class)
Executive Club Gold Members
oneworld Emerald members

Long-haul
First
Executive Club Gold Members
oneworld Emerald members

Boarding Group 2

Short-haul
Executive Club Silver Members
oneworld Sapphire members

Long-haul
Club World (Business class)
Executive Club Silver Members
oneworld Sapphire members

Boarding Group 3

Short-haul
Executive Club Bronze Members
oneworld Ruby members

Long-haul
World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy)
Executive Club Bronze Members
oneworld Ruby members

Boarding Group 4 & 5

For some reason, these are blended together, and are some times called at the time time as Group 3.

Short-haul
Euro Traveller (Economy)

Long-haul
World Traveller (Economy)

Passengers are asked to wait in the terminal until their boarding group is called. Once it has been called, they can board at any time until the gate is closed for departure.

As you can see, having flying on a hand baggage-only fare with BA Exec Gold status moves you straight from Boarding Group 5 to 1. This might at first seem a worthless benefit, but with finite overhead space on short-haul flights, getting your bag on first means less chance of your carry-on bag going in the hold and less delays on arrival.