LATAM Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Cutting The Queue In The Aisle When Leaving The Airplane: Good Idea or Rude?

Aisle see you later.

The airplane is packed with passengers. The flight has concluded. The pilot has deactivated the Fasten Seat Belt overhead indicator to let passengers know that the airplane is at the gate, the engines have been turned off, and they may now stand to retrieve their belongings and leave the airplane…

Cutting The Queue In The Aisle When Leaving The Airplane: Good Idea or Rude?

…but a passenger may take advantage of the opportunity to quickly grab his or her bag and sprint as far down the aisle as possible in an attempt to leave the airplane as soon as possible.

Is doing so a good way to save time — or is it considered rude, disrespectful, and impatient?

“For the second time in 200+ flights I had the unfortunate chance to view a couple jerks physically pushing their way to the front of the plane while everyone is getting up and getting their things”, FlyerTalk member mtofell recently posted in this discussion. “First time was years ago and I was with my wife in a window seat and was told to keep quiet (by my wife). Yesterday I was alone and couldn’t take it. The offenders were about to ‘bulldoze’ over a somewhat elderly couple and I called them them out (again in a window seat or I would have just blocked them). They stopped just short of my aisle and ‘normal’ de-planing continued. I was thanked several times walking out which gave me the perfect chance to explain loudly (as said jerks were right behind me) to not be discouraged that most people at our destination were polite.”

Pushing your way to the front of the airplane can indeed be offensive — but what if passengers prefer to sit in their seats and wait? Would using the empty space in the aisle then be considered rude?

What if the person who is rushing to leave the airplane has a very tight connection to another flight and has precious little time to arrive at the airplane? Is that a good reason to rush to the front of the aisle as far and as soon as possible?

When the following scenario was posed in this article What Would You Do? 39 Airplane Scenarios back on Wednesday, February 3, 2021: “After the airplane is safely parked at the gate after a flight, the captain indicates that passengers may safely leave their seats, gather their belongings, and exit the aircraft — but one passenger sprints from the rear of the airplane to as close to the exit door in an attempt to leave as soon as possible”, the response generally was “That is seemingly rude. But, I would assume he has a particular need to leave quickly and let him be. What does it hurt to show a little grace?”

What I wrote in this article called How to Get Off the Airplane and Through Customs and Immigration in 12 Minutes? Yeah, Right… back on Sunday, November 23, 2014 is the following statement: “Enter the aisle as soon as possible once the members of the flight crew give the indication that it is safe to do so — but do not knock out someone else in the process. I will normally stand in the aisle and allow passengers in the rows in front of mine to leave; but if the aisle is still clear and there is no signs of the passengers being ready to deplane, I will walk forward as far as possible so as to leave the airplane a minute or two earlier, as that can be the difference in waiting in the line significantly longer to go through customs and immigration — and yes, it can be done without being obnoxious about it. In fact, there have been times where the passengers in the rows ahead of mine have graciously waved me on. However, my rule of thumb is that if I am already in the aisle and another passenger wants to retrieve a belonging which is within my reach, I will usually reach for it, retrieve it and pass it on to them — which usually results in a quicker exit for both of us. For me, I am able to strike a balance between being courteous and respectful while getting to where I want to go as quickly as possible.”

Final Boarding Call

As I originally stated in this article which asks Is Retrieving Baggage From the Overhead Storage Bin Considered Cutting a Line? on Friday, February 19, 2016, if people are not standing in the aisle — or, better yet, still relaxing in their seats and waiting — when the Fasten Seat Belt sign is no longer illuminated after the airplane has arrived at the gate and you are able to retrieve your belongings and leave the airplane sooner. that is fair game, in my opinion.

To me, this scenario is somewhat similar to driving in an empty lane as far as possible before it ends and then having to merge into a lane crowded with traffic. If motorists want to merge early and sit in traffic instead of legally use the empty lane, that is their option. I prefer using the empty lane until the absolute end; and I do not consider doing so rude.

If people are already standing in the aisle, I would wait at my row until it was my turn to walk down the aisle and retrieve my belongings, as it would be rude to push through the crowd in the narrow aisle to retrieve my belongings — and to then leave the airplane.

I tend to agree with this comment by chasgoose — who is a reader of The Gate — who wrote “I think the rule is, that if you are the first to get out of your seat all bets are off and its not “cutting” per se, so long as you aren’t blocking others from getting out of their seats. Once the inevitable line has formed before the doors have opened, then I would probably call it cutting. I think basic etiquette only requires that once that line has formed you let the people in front of you (so long as they are ready) get out of their seats before you pass them.”

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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