Does “Don’t Cut In Line” Apply When Getting Off The Plane?

There’s no rule against waiting your turn when getting off of an aircraft. Normally you stand up, walk into the aisle either right away upon reaching the gate or when the row in front of you starts walking off the plane. And then when the people in front of you are on their way out, you proceed down the aisle yourself.

But is there an express rule against squeezing through the passengers in front of you, while you’re waiting for the aircraft doors to open? No, not really.

To be sure, this could become a safety issue, and you could wind up in a physical altercation. You have to follow crewmember instructions. But people jump the queue to get off of planes all the time!

A passenger who flew Austin to Denver on Southwest wound up in the back of the aircraft. On arrival, he grabbed his backpack and darted toward the front of the plane. With headphones on, he pretended not to hear when another passenger asked, “Have the rules changed?” and “Why don’t you go back to the back and wait like everyone else?”

The man didn’t think he did anything wrong. The seat belt sign was off, so he was allowed to get up. And ‘wait your turn’ isn’t published anywhere! He looked to the internet for vindication, but he did not get it.

AITA For getting up and lining up to exit the airplane before the people in front of me got up?
by u/amiadick736283 in AmItheAsshole

On my flight home to Austin on Thursday I flew United. We landed on time, but because United’s operation has been melting down, our gate wasn’t available yet. The plane hadn’t pushed back because it didn’t have pilots – who were coming in late off of a different delayed flight.

There were three passengers heading from DC to Los Angeles via Austin who had been trying to get there since Monday. Everyone let them work their way through the coach aisle to reach the front of the aircraft before we finally deplaned (after a 45 minute wait), as their flight was in final boarding a couple of gates away.

Wait your turn in line didn’t apply – the couple of minutes saved by skipping the queue had big consequences for them, and everyone understood this.

It’s also the correct thing to do to stand as soon as the plane reaches the gate and the seat belt sign is turned off. You don’t need to wait for your row’s turn to deplane – that just boxes in the people next to you.

Wait your turn is not a published rule, but it is a basic norm. The aircraft’s aisle also gets pretty crowded once the seat belt sign is turned off. There’s usually just a couple of seconds. You might make it a row or two forward before people start blocking the aisle. They have the right to the share space they are occupying and you do not have the right to move them. Pushing them naturally leads to conflict. You may get away with it, unscathed even, but you’re a jerk when you do it and it is not appropriate behavior on an aircraft.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Never push someone – that’s just rude and aggressive also.

    I wish everywhere could have efficient and pleasant de-boarding as they have in Japan, but…that’s not going to happen. Just use basic manners, and common sense.

  2. Had an interesting situation on a flight last week. We got to the gate and seatbelt light was turned off so many, including myself, in aisle seats stood up in aisle next to our seats to allow others seated more room and prepare to deplane.

    Understand we were 30 minutes EARLY so no rush for anyone to miss their flight. Guy standing begin be asked if he could go through because “he didn’t have any carry on luggage”. I gave him a look and he just stood there. After a few minutes I said if “if it means that much to you go ahead”. He did but obviously didn’t get far since many others were standing and waiting their turn to deplane.

    Never seen anyone want to push through when flight is early. Very strange behavior. Maybe had to hit restroom or go out for a smoke.

  3. On the rare occasion that I am in an aisle seat, I immediately stand in the aisle to allow those next to me some relief for their cramped legs. I see it as common courtesy. The people behind me can stay in their lane. Pushing doesn’t work.

  4. Sort of depends.

    I stand up (always aisle seat) and immediately remove our overhead luggage. Daughter on window gets up and moves in front of my seat. As soon as she can, I let her step out in front of me and we are off the plane.

    If someone has a tight connection, happy to let them by.

    But frustrating to be ready to leave and those in front have sat there, then get up and take their sweet time getting their luggage down and together, blocking everyone ready to go.

    Was on 1 flight where guy at back jumped up and raced to front of plane even before we were at the gate.. FA made him walk all the way back. We laughed at him.

    More than willing to wait my turn but if you sit there like a lump, then jump up in front of me and spend 5 minutes collecting your luggage and arguing with your spouse about who is going to carry what, I’m going past you.

  5. Rather than blame passengers, the airline should just open a rear exit.

    That happens in society. Democrats want to punish the rich because Democrats are jealous and nasty. (Republicans are racists who want to arrest Black people). Just enlarge the economic pie so the pool’s tiny sliver is more just like American poor are better off than the poor in India.

  6. “There were three passengers heading from DC to Los Angeles via Austin who had been trying to get there since Monday. Everyone let them work their way through the coach aisle to reach the front of the aircraft before we finally deplaned”

    How did everyone know this was the case, Gary? Did the flight attendants make an announcement or did the passengers explain their situation to everyone in the plane?

  7. It’s about respect for your fellow passengers, good manners & allowing everyone to proceed when it’s their turn. No biggie.Many people nowadays don’t get it.

  8. On a flight last week, I was in the first row aisle seat. When the seatbelt sign went off, I stood up to get my bag from the overhead (and I always offer to my seatmate if there is anything I can grab for them so they can put away headphones/book/etc). I nearly was knocked over by somebody who was sitting at least 4-5 rows back rushing the front as people stood up. Of course he got into the front galley, and the flight attendant promptly told him to keep out until the door was opened so she could perform safety duties (disarm opposite door). Of course this squeezed him back against me and the person across the aisle. It was midnight and a terminator flight for the airplane at an outstation, so nowhere to be in a rush. He did board in a wheelchair which made this all a bit more curious. But yes, wait at your row. It’s the polite thing to do. I can see if nobody in front of you stands up and you’re just standing in an empty aisle but certainly no pushing past people.

  9. LOL how is there room in coach for everyone to immediately stand, grab their bags, and be ready to dart out?

    And how do you quickly retrieve your carryon without waiting for others to clear the aisle when it’s several rows behind or ahead? You don’t always get first crack at bin space especially when the airline changes your seating.

    I’ve had someone literally crash into me as I was getting my bag because I wasn’t fast enough for their liking. If you’re so impatient that you need to act like a neanderthal, I hope some slow moving elderly couple boxes you in on your next flight. Just please don’t shove them.

  10. Well you always get a few stinkers but I think most people are courteous and considerate. When an announcement is made to stay seated while those with tight connections get off I’ve rarely seen any problems. To my mind it’s a bit like driving. You can tell a lot about people by how needlessly aggressive they are. Too often there is somebody weaving through traffic, even passing on the right in the street, just so they can be a big shot…until they are blocked by a buildup or a red light. Maybe road rage has a parallel with pushing on a plane, but at least there you can’t hide behind a car door.

  11. Passengers 21 years of age and older with a Platinum American Express card with less than a four-hour connection at DFW, DEN, and other airports featuring an American Express Centurion® Lounge know the benefits of rushing from the back of the aircraft to be the first to deboard while completely disregarding all other passengers. Because AMEX Platinum card membership has privileges, they want to maximize every second of drinking and eating time in an AMEX Centurion Lounge before their next flight. Savvy Platinum AMEX card members also know it is essential to get their name on the Centurion Lounge waiting list as soon as possible because there can be over a two-hour delay to enter.

    Pro Tip: During the holiday season or college spring break, some passengers learned it is faster to get to the front of the aircraft by climbing over the seat backs to avoid the crowded aisles.

  12. I’m a business traveler. And when I fly, I have to admit that I get really inpatient with people who just take forever to get their stuff from overhead compartments and stand in the aisles fiddling with their stuff rather than get moving. People need to just get their stuff and move!
    I don’t always have connections but I usually need to go get my rental car and get to meeting in time. If I have time, I just wait inpatiently and give these folks the evil eye. If I’m in a hurry I will ask if I can go past them. I have traveling with people who don’t fly very often. It drives me crazy!

  13. I’m a bit surprised it hasn’t been mentioned yet, but – on regional jets – getting out the door faster typically means folks waiting for their gate-checked bag get to wait in the jetway for the lottery that is the arrival of their luggage.

  14. So Gary, the reddit question you display has 3,400 comments which you imply are mostly negative.
    But! To the left of that number are
    5,700 “upvotes?” Are these updates saying the guy is NOT AITA?

    If so, that’s scary. Late stage capitalism and the current ethos of
    “the ends (more money) justify the means (explotation) is human greed at its worst…..

  15. Didn’t take long for a maga nut to make this political!
    SMH and wagging my finger
    Which finger dhould’nt be a surprise…..

  16. I just think it’s plain rude for people to rush ahead unless they have a connecting flight. If a passenger is that much in a hurry, purchase a ticket at the front of the plane. Usually the same people who are anxious to depart are the same ones who arrived late to take their seat. Or the ones who are in a rush in traffic . I’m from the Midwest. I show little mercy. I allow the rows ahead of me to depart first. We all want to deplane sooner than later. The airlines should have better rules if we don’t understand basic human decency.

  17. Let me present another scenario to this esteemed group:

    Passenger is not in an elite boarding class (part of the unwashed masses). Passenger arrives with an awkwardly shaped item which will no longer fit into luggage compartment above said passenger. Passenger then puts awkwardly shaped item in luggage compartment 4 rows behind. Upon landing, passenger darts up and begins quixotic salmon like journey to retrieve awkwardly shaped item from 4 rows behind. This causes a pile up. I ask thee, of this esteemed group, what is the societal norm for such a situation?

  18. Disagree completely regarding jumping up and clogging the aisle as soon as the “ding” goes off.

    Yes, it is correct to get up politely and courteously and carefully when there is opportunity to do so. People up front can get off first because they are up front.

    The Pavlovian attitude that you MUST get off the aircraft AS QUICKLY as possible is dehumanizing to say the least.

  19. @Sukwinder Dixit, I see two options. Obviously, said passenger was among the last to board, so everyone on the plane knows that they will need to get the item from 4 rows back. Politely ask people behind to grab it and pass it forward. Might work, might not. Otherwise, easiest to just wait until there is a break in traffic and go back later, even if it means being the last off. And next time, if possible, find a spot for said item as many rows in front of passenger’s seat as necessary, rather than behind. Good tip to keep in mind, always try to put your carry on in front of you, not behind you.

  20. The Pavlovian attitude that you MUST get off the aircraft AS QUICKLY as possible is dehumanizing to say the least.

    Sorry, you have no idea what people have in their schedules after the flight. Maybe it’s a tight connection, which might not be to a flight, but to ground transportation. Maybe it’s an important meeting of some kind. There are all kinds of reasons. If you don’t have to get off the aircraft ASAP, that’s fine but kindly allow others to depart ASAP (with caveats, of course — namely that people should be careful when removing bags or maneuvering them in the cabin, as being late to something is no excuse for slamming other people with your luggage).

    On the flip side, it’s crass to be pushy if you’re toward the back and need to make your way toward the front. I’ve seen people yell and use profanities while doing this — and then still miss their next flight, which I know because I was attempting to connect onto the same one!

    Basic rule for deplaning is Use the space that’s available to you, in the aisle, but don’t push forward.

    If you have a legitimate reason to absolutely be let off first regardless of where you’re sitting, ask a flight attendant before the plane’s descent whether they can make an announcement that everyone is to remain seated to allow you specifically, in your specific seat number, to get up first — this will work. Implore the FA to announce that when the seatbelt sign chimes, everyone except you, in your specific seat number, must absolutely stay seated, or the aircraft door will not open.

  21. At least in America, we seem to have list all sense of civility, just about everywhere, not only while flying.

    So much for the “greatest country in the world”.

  22. Since we’re talking etiquette, how about dressing appropriately for the flight, you’re not at the beach yet. Your fellow passengers don’t want to see your overgrown toe nails or hairy underarms.

  23. @patti For each row on a mainline narrowbody there are 6 seats and at most room for 2 people to stand in the aisle of the row, sometimes only one with all the bags on the floor. That means 67% of pax can’t get into the aisle and retrieve items until the forward rows begin to clear.

    Many are not traveling together like you and your daughter and don’t have someone on the aisle able to retrieve items for them.

    Get over the self importance and understand you will have to wait for some middle/window passengers to get their things down out of common courtesy.

  24. There are rules for deplaning **if the flight isn’t late**. They are based on good manners and common sense. This is a situation when we’re all equal. When the seatbelt sign is turned off, you can stand up. If there’s room in the aisle, you can step into the aisle. You proceed up the aisle as the queue moves forward. If someone is still sitting in their seat, they wait until there’s room for them in the aisle. If someone stops in the aisle for a row to stand up and step into the aisle, that usually triggers a reaction of all pax waiting until the row in front has cleared the aisle. Some people just sit there without getting up, so they wait until the aisle is clear to deplane. It’s simple: if there’s room in the aisle, step into it and move forward. At no time is it appropriate for anyone to try to weasel through the queue, nor should anyone ask the guy in front of him if he ‘minds’. You just wait your turn.

  25. Tell you what, fellow pax, I’ll follow the “wait your turn” rule if you’ll follow the “collect your stuff and get the bleep off the plane” rule.

  26. I would never push anyone but as soon as I’m able to move you bet I’m trying to get to the front as soon as possible. Makes bo sense to wait in line behind people who wait to last possible second to start getting their stuff together. I’ll always get my stuff prepared before those doors open

  27. People who stand up immediately at the gate are just as bad as the landing clappers.

  28. @john That’s not true, people who stand up immediately are expediting egress, as they are grabbing their luggage and poised to walk out of the aircraft door as soon as it opens.

    If you fail to stand up, then you delay everyone who has to wait for you to stand up before you can move forward.

  29. This is an extreme (at times) irritation of mine, but not for the reasons you express here. Ever since 1st traveling to Japan over 20 years ago, I have noticed the massive difference in efficiency and speed (well,of everything having to do with public processes….but that’s another story) of disembarking aircraft.
    Folx in Japan have established a very smart and fast order. We’d be wise to adopt here. It does like this:
    * when it’s time to get up and collected your stowed luggage the people in the AISLE ROW do it 1st and together. When the door opens, the people standing WITH THEIR LUGGAGE exit. Once a healthy handful are off or out of the way, the folks sitting get up and do the same. This isn’t true completely from front to back…there comes a point, say, a 3rd of way up the plane, where some people already up wait briefly. The point is that people standing in the aisle GET OUT OF THE WAY, so that folx in middle and window seats can get up and grab their stuff. The principle is; if you’re I’m the aisle and ready to get off, GO. eventually there are several rows of people who need to get their things at the same time. The plane empties so muc faster.
    I RARELY experience (in nearly 100,000, annually) the kind of “cutting” discussed here. What I do almost exclusively experience is the opposite; extreme faux-politeness. People standing in front of their aisle waiting for window seat passengers to climb out of their own aisle when they could just go and allow their own aisle mates to get up and their own things. No one would be blocking anyone’s path. No one is “cutting” in front of anyone. Instead you have the preposterous scenes we do….the intention is politeness and order. The reality is it takes at least double the time and offers performative grace rather than the authentic kind.
    I’ve seen full planes empty in a quarter of the time in Osaka, Kyoto, etc than here by people just doing the common sense thing: get off the plane and get out the the freaking way.

  30. I may be wrong, but I would venture to say that the majority of the people who boarded that plane were all traveling with a purpose. Those of you loudly, self important, it is all about you complainers, get over yourselves. You are not the only one who has somewhere to be or someone to meet. Your time and your goals are no more important in row 27 than in row 8. If this inconveniences you by 3 or 4 minutes, get over it. Do you get upset at Baggage Claim when another person’s bag is off loaded before yours and start ranting that you want it NOW! CHILL, the world will not end in that 5 minutes it takes to get off the plane.

  31. It is wrong to push forward unless pushing forward is the difference between making and not making a connection, you should of course explain that to the people you are pushing in front of. Airlines use to ask people to remain seated so that the passengers (in the seat #s they call out) who have a connection to make can get off first. I wish they still did that.

  32. I always have an aisle seat and I always put my carryon in the aisle as soon as possible to hold my spot in the deplaning order. If you wait, there will be no space for you to get up.

  33. Tizzette says:
    July 2, 2023 at 3:10 pm
    I always have an aisle seat and I always put my carryon in the aisle as soon as possible to hold my spot in the deplaning order. If you wait, there will be no space for you to get up.

    This is the correct response.

    As soon as the seatbelt light goes out, I put out my food and elbow into the aisle space and occupy as much space as possbile in the aisle next to me. Years of experience in crowded third world countries as well as European countries have taught me how to use my elbows and body in a crowd. I don’t have time to waste on people behind me. Also, I keep my mouth shut, because uncivlized passengers never learn. If they beat me to the front, fine, I give them that score; it’s all part of the game and a nice finishing capstone to the often faulty entertainment screens.

  34. Here’s another one. If your carry on is too heavy for you to take it out of the overhead bin, don’t ask me to help. It’s not my problem!

  35. @Maria I Ferrera so you feel you are the only in the plane that need to go get your rental car and get to meeting in time? or is you time more valuable?

    @Tizzette Exactly

    @BigTee this is the way, and that was exactly my school too..

    In all my years of frequent flying I have never pushed my self to the front, even if it means i’ll lose a connection, (yes, i’d rather lose a connection than pressure the fellow passengers pushing myself to the front, I guess I was Japanese in my previous life). And the couple of times i’ve seen clearly distressed passengers pushing not to lose tight connections, they have always requested (as i’m positioned in my spot, exactly as BigTee said), sometimes politely and more often not (they seem genuinely rushed), I gave them the space but I usually say don’t count on everyone giving you the space as i’m sure there’s more people also in a rush.

  36. If I’m in the aisle seat I stand to get my bag ready to go. An offer to help others get bags follows. We all deplane faster this way

  37. @greg

    Perhaps I should have said we only fly FC/BC. And 90% of the time unless on a major international flight, we are within 2-3 rows of the door.

    Anyone needing help or has something in our same bin, I’m glad to get down and hand to them.

    I don’t have to wait for middle since there aren’t any where we sit.

    Not a matter of importance. Matter of where we sit on most of our flights.

    That CLEAR now?

  38. I do not fly frequently, but when I do, it is always annoying when those with carryon baggage hold up all of those without carryon baggage. Why not allow those without carryon baggage deplane first and let those with carrying on baggage in the overhead deplane last?

  39. I’ve had words with people who get up even if the aisle is already full and start poking or pushing with their luggage. There are no rules but decency dictates the people nearest the exit should exit first. Now, if someone waves you, by all means. And I only standup quickly because I’m old and need to stretch my legs before walking.

  40. I think it is just inexperienced travelers.
    I always find it interesting when the FA asks people to stay seated and allow passengers of first who have a “tight connection” even though we arrive at the gate early. I assume they don’t realize that it doesn’t really take that long to get to your gate and the airline won’t sell you a connection under the MCT. They could have booked separate tickets, but then I have no sympathy.
    As for rushing up (or down) the aisle, I’ve noticed inexperienced travelers will panic when they board and such their carry on in F or the first row of economy out of fear of no overhead space in the back since GAs are constantly scaring passengers with announcements of having to gate check their bag. Then they rush to try to get to their bag Ironically F passengers end up being the ones having trouble finding space.

  41. I try to always waive people in the aisle through so people sitting can then start getting their bags down. It’s much more efficient than every person getting ready one-by-one.

  42. There’s no such rule, but it’s common courtesy. Then again, if the person has a connecting flight to catch or is running late for some other reason, I have bigger things to worry about. It would be a mess if everybody did it, in which case we’d need an actual rule. We don’t need a rule because it works well enough in general that it’s rarely a problem.

  43. If you are behind me and you have not made arrangements with the flight attendant to deplane early to make a flight, I guarantee you will not be cutting ahead of me or all of the passengers in front of you, waiting their turn to get off.

  44. 1. Press the attendant call button before final approach once you know you have a tight connection.
    2. Ask for a courtesy announcement where attendant asks everyone to remain seated for one extra minute while people with tight connections deplane.
    3. Try to figure out which idiot will be the one to cause this simple solution to breakdown. That’s the guy you want to push out of the way.

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