The polite way to board a plane
It rarely works. The rush to the rear of the plane continues. And, like many exasperated air travellers, Betts wonders if there’s a better way — especially now, when social distancing is so important.
There should be. Conflicts — including disagreements over seat assignments, overhead baggage storage, or personal space — often begin during the boarding process. So, with the summer travel season approaching, it might be time to revisit basic onboarding etiquette.
“Getting on planes can be frustrating and confusing,” says Anne Baum, etiquette expert and author of “Small mistakes, big consequences: develop your soft skills to help you succeed.” She says there’s a “golden rule” when it comes to getting on a plane: “Help others with their luggage, let someone beat you to it, and be the friendly traveler.” To err on the side of courtesy.
But let’s talk about the specifics of the boarding tag. Here are the big questions:
Do I need to stand near the gate before my boarding party is called?
Absolutely not. “You should avoid queuing at the gate before your boarding party,” says Bonnie Tsai, founder of the etiquette consultancy. Beyond the label.
Passengers wake up early because they think they’ll have an advantage when their line is finally called, Tsai says. But they only slow down the boarding process and block the gate.
“It can also frustrate other travelers and gate agents,” says Tsai. “Queuing before your boarding party is called will not get you to your destination any sooner. Be considerate and you will all arrive at your destination.
Pro Tip: Smart travelers who don’t have elite status arrive at the airport early and reserve a seat near the gate area. Then, when their line is called, they can line up, which means they get to their section first.
Do faster passengers have priority when boarding?
We have all been there. Maybe you are carrying extra baggage. Other passengers start crowding behind you as you stow your carry-on in the overhead compartment. Should I step aside and let the other passengers pass?
Again, no. Pulling back for faster passengers will not significantly speed up the boarding process. “It is more efficient for the whole boarding process if the slowest passengers board first,” says Debbie Carstenprofessor at the College of Aeronautics at the Florida Institute of Technology.
It may seem counter-intuitive at the time, but this is where we tap into our reserves of good manners. “I don’t want to be that passenger trying to rush past the mom pushing her kids in a stroller,” Carstens says.
Pro Tip: Consider flying with South West Airlines. “Southwest has a digital boarding order, and it has numbered poles to make sure people get in the right order before boarding,” says Raj Mahal, a software developer who created the PlanMoreTrips application. “It’s no coincidence that Southwest also has the fastest aircraft turnaround time.”
Who owns the space in the overhead compartment above your seat?
Travelers have traditionally felt that the storage space above their seats belongs to them. But don’t be too territorial. Etiquette experts say it’s important to be flexible and remember it works both ways. The overhead compartment closest to your seat may not be available and you may have to rely on the flexibility of another passenger.
Also, “if you’re traveling by coach, don’t use the business class or first class overhead bins when you board the plane,” says the etiquette expert. Rachel Wagner. “Also, it’s rude to store your items in the front rows of economy class if your seat is near the back of economy class.”
Pro tip: be patient. “If you need more space, wait until people have all packed up their things and see where there’s room to put your extra luggage,” says Adeodata Czink, an etiquette expert. You’ll often find space and won’t have to fight passengers for it.
So this is it. Stay seated until your row is called, give passengers in front of you all the time they need to pack their belongings and share overhead compartment space. These are the basics of the boarding tag.
“My grandmother always said, ‘Civility doesn’t cost anything,’ says Julien Walker, head of market communications and public relations at travel management company CWT. “We tend to forget that when traveling. We are so absorbed in our own worlds.
Prospective travelers should consider local and national public health guidelines regarding the pandemic before planning any travel. Information on travel health advice can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map showing travel recommendations by destination and the CDCs travel health advice webpage.