January 22 2012

American Airlines Group 4 Tickets – The Mystery Solved

American Airlines group 4 ticketAt long last, someone has finally explained to me why in the world I keep ending up with an American Airlines group 4 ticket!

For those who aren’t familiar with flying American Airlines, the planes are loaded by group starting with first class, uniformed military and so on, then they move on to Group 2, Group 3 and finally Group 4. So, it is not unusual for me to get on the plane and find no overhead storage left for my rolling carry-on.  This leads to me “gate checking” that bag quite often, which always makes me nervous as thats usually my “emergency” clothing and so on, but sometimes I simply have no choice.

I found myself in this situation yesterday at the Santa Ana airport in California.  As they announced the flight was nearly sold out, they needed people to hand over whatever bags they could, so I went ahead and opted to turn mine over as I was on my way home.  While getting the bag processed I made an off-handed comment about how I always seem to end up in Group 4.  “That’s because you checked-in with an agent,” the airline agent told me.  After I asked her what she meant, she told me that online check-in gets you in Group 2, checking-in at a self-help kiosk would get you Group 3 and checking in with an agent got you into Group 4.

See, I’m almost always in a hotel the night before I fly, so I normally don’t check-in online as it’s a pain in the butt.  As for self check-in, I just figured I was right next to the agents, just use an agent.  Little did I know it was actually causing me issues with my position of getting on the flight.  Perhaps if American Airlines publicized this a bit more I would have seen a reason sooner to not use an agent, but if you don’t see any real line, with them, why not use them?

I have no issues with the group idea, but at least explain to your customers how the heck they work!

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