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“It Makes the Plane Arrive Sooner” & Other Reasons People Unbuckle as Soon as They Land

“It Makes the Plane Arrive Sooner” & Other Reasons People Unbuckle as Soon as They Land
Joe Cortez

Is it appropriate to unbuckle one’s seatbelt after landing? FlyerTalkers are split on the topic: Some say it’s acceptable so one can repack everything from the flight, while others say it’s a nuisance behavior.

It’s a topic almost as contentious who gets the middle arm rest, but less contentious than using the infamous “Knee Defender.” As soon as the aircraft lands and leaves the runway, a familiar clicking noise passes through the cabin. It’s the sound of multiple flyers unbuckling their seatbelts immediately after landing, just to stand on the airplane for another few minutes for the chance to be one of the first to leave the aircraft.

Anyone who has flown on an aircraft in the past ten years knows all about this phenomenon. Now, FlyerTalkers are scratching their heads wondering why this actually happens in the first place.

For some, it’s a matter of logistics. Considering flyers now carry on two electronic devices, some use the additional time to pack up and make sure they don’t leave anything in the seat-back pocket.

“Zero chance of turbulence,” writes FlyerTalker daistev. “Easier to load your pockets with the contents that you put in the seat in front of you (passport, cell phone etc.).”

“Taxi speed is generally 20mph, and the odds of me being injured by a sudden stop at those speeds are even less than the odds of me being injured while walking up/down the aisle of the plane in flight,” opines forum member DenverBrian. “[And] Because it’s usually the only way I can cram my phone back into a front pants pocket.”

But even at the low speeds, frequent flyers note that traveling with both feet on the ground can be dangerous. FlyerTalker LightChopAhead points to the video of an Air France A380 clipping the tail of a taxiing CRJ700, sending the aircraft into a violent turn. In events like this, unbuckling one’s seat belt can result in much more harm than efficiency.

“Might be zero chance of turbulence,” points out FlyerTalker petit_manchot. “But if the pilots, for some reason, have to slam on the brakes while you’re leaning forward to get something out of the pocket in front you’ll certainly know about it.”

Despite all of the technical arguments about safety and odds, the overwhelming reason many people unbuckle and race to the aisle may be summarized by jrl767: “Common sense and common courtesy and sadly no longer common.”

And then there’s the theory of Often1:

  1. It will make the aircraft arrive sooner.
  2. It might win you the opportunity to stand in the aisle for an extra 30 seconds and therefore feel as though you are making progress when you are not.
  3. It shows that you don’t have to live by the rules while the others do and therefore makes you a cool person when you are not.”

So when it comes time for the plane to land, perhaps the right thing to do is let the aircraft come to a rest before taking off the safety belt? It could save the sanity of your neighbors – not to mention prevent any unplanned injuries.

Where do you stand on the appropriate time to take off your safety belt? Share your thoughts in the FlyerTalk forums!

View Comments (6)


  1. Tailgater

    October 17, 2019 at 9:20 am

    all this talk about needing to unbuckle early (before complete stop at gate) rings hollow. The reasons remind me of tailgaters on the road—-people risk rear-ending due to this unsafe practice that isn’t even necessary.

  2. fromfall98

    October 17, 2019 at 10:05 am

    It’s FAA regulation to comply with PIC’s commands!! You take off seat belt when the seatbelt sign is off!! Why is it so difficult? It is for your own and your fellow passengers safety!! Why is it even up for debate??? I mean, it is like arguing with the cops who rocket you for not wearing your seatbelt in car: “I was only going at 20 mph, so seatbelt wouldn’t matter!!”

    Just wait for PIC to turn off the sign!!!

  3. Moyerclan

    October 18, 2019 at 3:44 am

    Well I gotta be honest here and say I’m guilty of this myself. I get slightly claustrophobic hence I sit on the aisle and I tend to unbuckle as soon as we’re going slowly to the gate. I realize now I also unbuckle my car seat belt once I’m in my driveway for the same reason. Yet while up in the air I have no qualms about keeping my seat belt on. Go figure?

  4. htb

    October 19, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I always thought people doing this are just stupid. Now I’ve come to realize that these people are just selfish and without regard for their own safety and the safety of the people around them.
    I don’t want the head of the person one or two rows behind me crash into the back of my head when the aircraft makes a sudden stop.
    30 mph only feels slow because the plane is so big and you’re high above the road.

  5. Thinksamuel

    October 21, 2019 at 3:29 am

    The most annoying thing is when FA’s ask to buckle up for turbulence midflight and just after they asked it via the intercom, people get up to go to the toilet. You wonder if they are deaf or something but then you see them talking with fellow passenger so they should have heard it.

  6. model_un

    October 21, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Deadliest airline accident. ONE THE GROUND! Tenerife. Keep it buckled until we get to the gate… and even then careful you aren’t near a A380!

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