I’ve been flying a ton lately, and have, thankfully, achieved significant airline status. The primary, constant, benefit of this status is that I board in ‘Zone 1’ for every flight, just after First Class, and before anybody else on the plane.
By the time folks get to Zone 5, there is no luggage space left, you’re sitting in a middle seat, etc.: people who rarely/never fly, and generally bought their tickets for absolute minimum cost. It’s a horrible, miserable experience (especially sitting in a middle seat for multiple hours!). There’s a super simple fix: join the frequent fliers program!
For all the major US Airlines (American, United, US Air, Delta, etc.), the program is free, has no minimum requirements, and just by being a member you’ll be bumped up to an earlier boarding zone, and given better seat selections before checkin (free exit rows, etc.).