Make Airport Time More Productive By Boarding Your Plane Last

Make Airport Time More Productive By Boarding Your Plane Last
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Time spent in airports doesn’t have to be a slog. If you’re looking to be more productive with that time, waiting to board your plane gives you more time to work.

Photo by Mathieu Marquer

Fully boarding a plane takes time. Rather than standing in a queue, Shahariss Beh, the founder of HackerNest, recommends putting that time to good use instead:

ALWAYS be the LAST person to board the vehicle. That doesn’t mean showing up at the last minute. To the contrary — show up really early, sit down with your laptop, and get work done. When they call for boarding, stay seated. Only once you see the last person get checked in do you get up, pack your stuff, and head over.

One caveat: this works best if you’re only travelling with a single bag that you can keep under your seat — if you have a larger bag that needs to go overhead, you’ll struggle to find space. And if it’s a tactic you pursue regularly, try and get an aisle seat so you don’t cause disruption when you board.

7 Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity [Inc.]


  • A couple more caveats
    1. Make sure your carry-on will fit under the seat in front. The space can be quite small sometimes.
    2. This won’t work if you’re in an exit row as all baggage has to go in the overhead bins.

  • Unfortunately you keep the bag under the seat in front. So unless you’re flying business, this tactic guarantees you no leg room.

  • How do we deal with the inevitable mexican standoffs between Lifehacker flyers?

    You go first.

    No. You.

      • The point at which electronics must be turned off is the same irrespective of whether you board first or last?

        • You’re missing the point. This post is about *productivity*. If you can productively do your work in an aisle seat, with people filing past and bumping you non-stop, only to then have to get up once (or twice) to let your seat mates in – then that’s great. But for the vast majority, productivity time increases the more time you are sitting in the departure lounge waiting for others to file onboard. It has nothing to do with when you switch your electronics off (which is mostly only applicable to devices like laptops now).

          • I guess I made assumptions from experience. I commute on Virgin Australia weekly, always book a window seat and generally board first on account of status from flying every week.

  • I would actually disagree on this.

    Hell, the time spent distracted from your work to keep checking on other people boarding would have an impact on whatever is so important you need the extra 10-15 minutes to work on something (on a small plane, that’s the most you’d get from this).

    And if anything is that important, you’re about to be disrupted by a flight anyway, where you’ll have at least that much time, usually more, to work without a worry once airborn.

    • 15 minutes is 15 minutes… and to some people, that 15 minutes can be utilised in a very productive way. If you are sitting at the gate facing a line of people, it doesn’t take much effort to quickly glance at the line. Even after the line has gone, there’s still a wait time to board in the gangway/jet bridge. When you hear the final boarding call, your number is up and you go straight to your seat.

  • Agree with this for traveling without status. If traveling with status or business class then priority boarding every time.

  • I’m sorry but I’m going to have to be a little rude here.

    On behalf of airline staff everywhere please kindly go to hell.

    There’s enough trouble with people saying 50 goodbyes or who believe boarding is the perfect time to use the loo or wander outside to call their boss.
    Believe it or not Airports are busy places.
    The staff waiting for you to board probably has a dozen other jobs lined up and your lateness can cause bigger problems than you realize. There are nationally regulated schedules for flights. There is a thing called a slot time (or COBT) that gives us a window for your plane to be airborne and missing it means we have to call operations and hope they have another available soon. Sometimes that’s 5 minutes later, sometimes not for an hour. You know why it exists? It’s so if you crash the search and rescue people will know how far along your trip you were and can work out where to start searching for you.

    So quite apart from the personal aggravation you are causing the staff, stop and think. If you don’t get in there on time what is the airline going to choose?
    Inconvenience a planeload of passengers for you?
    Leave you behind?

    And before you get indignant about how much you paid for that ticket and your rights as the customer stop and look at the fine print you ignored earlier. You’ll probably find it says if you can’t be bothered to be on time then we don’t have to help you. At best it might say we’ll get you on the next available flight, at worst your money is forfeit and we don’t have to do jack.

    We’re trying to efficiently hurl you through the sky at nearly the speed of sound in a metal tube with tens of thousands of working parts, powered by recycled dinosaurs. Sorry if our not treating it as casually as you is an inconvenience.

    • Disagree totally. When Virgin didn’t have a single person accepting bags in the bag drop line today (except if you are priority who got 3 check in bays) and I waited in line for 25 minutes with 10 people in front and 150+ people behind do you think I am going to give up my breakfast time ( I arrived an hour in advance so I can have breakfast). Get stuffed, the plane can wait with my bags on it while I have breakfast if that’s the sort of customer care I am given.

      • Oh I can understand that you are pissed.

        With the recent industry wide cut backs I’ve seen a few airlines making weird decisions and Virgin especially seem to be putting a weird amount of emphasis on their appearance in front of the big spenders while their daily bread and butter type customers get shafted. But is that a reason to be a prick to the girl standing at the gate?
        That stuff happens everywhere. How many times have you been into the supermarket on the busiest day of the week and they’ve only had half the counters open? When you get to the front of the cue do you tell the middle aged single mum swiping your groceries for $FA an hour that she doesn’t deserve to feed her family because of it?

        Deciding that you’re going to get some sort of petty revenge by taking your time just makes you a contributor to the problem and ultimately only reinforces an issue that comes back to hurt you more. If you want to get up somebody don’t make it the staff. Nobody standing in front of you has any real power. Do you get angry at the waiter because the restaurant ran out of asparagus? What do you want? Do you expect the waiter to run out to a farmers market for fresh organic asparagus?

        I’m not saying you’ll get anywhere but if you ask the person at the counter who to complain to they can probably give you an official line or form or something. Most of the time they’d even encourage you to complain to their boss coz they can’t. That at least gets added to the statistics that tell the higher ups customers are unhappy. It’s like dealing with a landlord, if it’s not on paper it might as well not exist. If the huge amount of winging that got rammed down the throats of the people on check-in actually went where it was supposed to maybe the system might improve.

        Or are you just another in the line of impotent complainers who just want to feel better by ruining somebody elses day in turn?

        Oh and in reply to your beleif that the plane with your bags will wait while you finish. If your bags are already on board and you dont show up even when called security will assume you’ve put something nasty in them and you don’t want to be on board when it gets loose. They will be taken off the plane and left behind with security. Inconveiniencing you further as you’ve missed your flight and have to go through the process of retreiving them.

    • Your rant is quite redundant considering how this post clearly quotes the following:

      **That doesn’t mean showing up at the last minute…. show up really early. Only once you see the last person get checked in do you get up, pack your stuff, and head over.”**

      • No still relevant. Late check-in are a problems but it is specifically the late boarders that I am “ranting” about. You boarding the plane is not the last step in the process so the longer you make it take the longer everybody has to wait, including probably the people on the next flight who are waiting for the staff to move on to them.

        • How can you be a late boarder if you’re sitting at the gate, waiting for a queue of people to drop to a small handful, only to have to pick up your one bag and walk 30ft to where the line used to be? If people are late due to tardiness, security delays and general lack of planning, that’s a totally different kettle of fish. But it’s not the point being made in the article.

      • Don’t worry about it. “Lord Bob” clearly has reading comprehension issues which he/she has shown multiple times by commenting on this article.

  • I’ve got another pro-tip to save time. When the plane lands and the seatbelt sign goes off – stand up. 90% of people stand up and stay where they are. I believe this makes the queue travel faster, or the process of disembarking go smoother.

  • I always try to board as early as possible. I go for a window seat, get on while the overhead lockers are still empty(ish), get myself settled and sorted, and then I can do what I like while everyone else boards. This is both more effective and more efficient.

    • ^ This. Much less stressfull for all involved. Plus if you have electronics most airlines are changing to let you use them so long as they are in flight mode and you don’t have them going during take off and landing.

      • Qantas and Virgin have been allowing gate-to-gate use of small electronic devices (phones, tablets, e-readers – not laptops) since mid last year – following FAA changes in the U.S. This means they can be used at any time (on the gangway/jet-bridge, when seated and waiting for others to board, etc.) but they can also be used during takeoff and landing.
        The only time they’re required to be switched to flight mode is when the announcement is made that the cabin door has been closed. But you can still continue to use them (in flight mode) during takeoff and landing.

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