As I was approaching the gate, the agents were starting to start their boarding calls, so I hastily snapped off a few pictures of the plane.
The gate agents started boarding by calling “all elites” so I joined the boarding scrum near the podium. One of the agents was standing near the line checking boarding passes and directed me towards a large mass of people across the walk way: “Your boarding group is over there.” I looked confused, so he explained that they were “currently boarding first class, business class, and 1Ks,” and that I, as a Premier should go and wait. In one of my few Do You Know Who I Am moments while traveling, I pointed to the rather prominent “1K” printed right in the middle of my boarding pass and walked to the gate to board.
At this point, it’s worth noting something about the layout of United’s boarding passes. For 1Ks, there’s a “1K” printed in the dead center of the boarding pass and the words “Premier Executive 1K” under the passenger’s name. While I was waiting, the agent came running over having realized his error, profusely apologizing for having only read the word “Premier” on my boarding pass. It’s a good thing that the boarding order was being enforced; it’s just unfortunate that I, as someone who doesn’t probably look like an especially frequent flyer (except for those 103k EQM on United and 34k EQM on American last year), was misjudged.
Coach was fairly empty and I was able to console myself with an entire row of three seats to myself to compensate for the lost exit row seat after we had an equipment swap from old-to-new config.
At the back of the center Economy Plus section are six seats dedicated to crew rest with extra legroom and footrests. (During flight, they pull the curtains in the back of the section around the area for improved darkness.) With the empty flight, other passengers began eying the crew rest seats to be rebuffed by the crew.