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What’s the Right Way to Deplane?

Quick question for frequent fliers: what’s the right way to deplane? Earlier this week, Michael Blacksmith’s hilarious photo of award-winning passenger behavior went viral on Reddit. And since he was awarded Best Passenger 2019, I think it’s safe to assume that getting up as soon as the wheels hit the runway is frowned upon, if, you know, the seatbelt signs weren’t enough of an indication.

But what else is bad deplaning etiquette? Is it OK to clap when your flight lands? Is it OK to rush to the front of the plane from the very back as long as you mutter “short connection time?” We’ve all heard stories of passengers deplaning in an orderly fashion, row by row, but that happens so infrequently that these Canadian passengers went viral for doing it, then proved that this kind of orderly deplaning is even rarer than this gif would suggest when it was revealed that these weren’t commercial passengers at all, but employees who take this charter flight to their job site once every two weeks.

Canadian Flights Passengers wait patiently to exit flight in a calm and orderly manner. from r/BeAmazed

But, for the rest of us who aren’t Canadian or being monitored by our co-workers, what is the correct way to deplane? Does it vary from airline to airline? And is there any point in sticking to the “right way” if you’re the only person doing it?

I’m not the only person on Reddit who’s asked this question. The thread Proper Etiquette to Leaving an Airplane for the Most Efficient Deplaning has been running since 2015, has nearly 100 responses and people are still weighing in.

It all started with FlyerTalker MSPeconomist’s question about the deplaning difference on American Airlines:

So upon touchdown, taxing up, and finally hearing the seatbelt ding, I do what I naturally do as a delta flyer, I get up and start to unload the [overhead bin], but much to my astonishment, no one else in economy got up- literally no one.

I actually thought I was doing something wrong.

So I slowly sat back down and just watched other passengers just sit wait. Now the first class cabin was of course all standing up and all had grabbed their bags down from the bins and once the last 1st-class passenger deplaned, the economy comfort (or what ever [American Airlines] calls it) got up and grabbed their bags, and so on, until finally it was my turn.

I couldn’t believe how civilized these AA passengers were. I hadn’t flown AA in a couple years and of course living in southeast Michigan, Delta is where my loyalty lies, but man, it was something I will remember for a while.

Deplaning class, by class, from front to back—and staying seated until then—seems to be the gold standard. But FlyerTalker DJCobol argues for a height exemption:

I’m 6’3″, so after 2+ hours sitting in tiny coach seats having my knees bashed in by the person in front of me, I just want to stand up. I’m not trying to rush past the people in front of me to get off the plane, but just let me stand up and stretch a little bit.
But, is it OK to stretch in the aisle and then block others’ aisle access with your carry-on until you deplane? Or is it rude to stand in the aisle with no intention of grabbing something for the overhead bin when others are waiting?
If you sit patiently until the row ahead of you has deplaned, are you rude for slowing down deplaning because you still have to collect your things? If you have a clear view of the end of the aisle, should you just gun it? Or wait for the passenger in front of you?
There are so many opinions about deplaning it’s enough to make your head spin. And that’s before you read this Vox article that says we’re all deplaning wrong and that we should exit aisle seats first.
So I’m asking you: What are your deplaning pet peeves, and how do you wish everyone would get off the plane?
Comments are Closed.

The most efficient is the one in the graphic - aisle, then center, then window. People seem to object because they wouldn't be able to deplane with their party. Seriously? Are you with those people every minute of every day at home? You can't be separated for 2 minutes? Obviously exceptions would be made for people with small children or people needing assistance.

RandyN September 26, 2019

That guy who gets up, grabs his bag out of the overhead and drops it in the aisle so you can't get past it? Yeah. That's me. Your time isn't more important than mine is.

PushingTin September 26, 2019

If you are in an aisle seat it is your duty to get up on the ding. This give the middle and window a bot of room to move around and grab their underseat bag, maybe stretch a little to get ready to walk. Aisle people that stay seated should be forced to lick their seat tray. I even raise the end arm rest to make it easier for people to exit.

friendlyplanet September 26, 2019

Deboarding should be row by row, front to back. Sure, if the people in front of you are not moving, or sorting through their things, and there's a clear way to go by, then feel free to exit first. But there's a fine line between sliding by stragglers, and barging by slower moving people. I've seen people pushed out the the aisle by someone to get off the plane 10 seconds faster- that's just rude. Speaking of rude, anyone remember the post in FlyerTalk ~5 years ago, where the OP says, "Don't you hate it when you stand up in line on the plane to disembark, and all these people cut in front of you?" One of my favorite threads of all time, as people went from "sure, you shouldn't cut the line" to "what do you mean, line?" to "you pushy jerk!"....

onlyairfare September 26, 2019

Not every person who needs extra time to board is a fraud if they are able to deplane quickly. Some people have "invisible" heart or lung disease that flares with the process of getting to the departure gate to the point they have difficulty walking on board. But after resting a bit (or spending seated hours on a plane) they are fine for to speedily deplane.