Back in August 2018, two passengers on a Frontier Airlines flight exchanged threats, which eventually turned into a brawl, while disembarking their plane; according to witnesses, one passenger bumped into the other while trying to grab his bag from the overhead compartment bin, sparking the fight.
Our social media editor, Tim, recently faced a similar (although less hostile) disagreement while attempting to grab his bag after landing. Instead of waiting around, Tim decided to go straight for his carry-on behind his row and as soon as passengers were allowed to stand — and another passenger openly expressed her disapproval toward his actions.
“I took matters into my own hands and I would do it again,” Tim said coldly.
Readers, is Tim a monster? The Washington Post recently covered this subject of deplaning etiquette and who has the right to get to the gate first. The basic rules of getting off a plane shouldn’t come as a surprise, assuming you’re on a flight with a single exit in front: Passengers in front, followed by those in the back.
And aisle seats first, followed by those in the middle and window seat, which should go without saying. (A passenger in front always has precedence over those behind them, even if they’re in an aisle.) The main reason for these rules is to allow passengers to deplane with the least amount of friction in the process, and to ensure a smooth transition between flights.
There are several exceptions I’d make to these rules, however. For one, if you’re taking an especially long time to unbuckle your seatbelt, it’s perfectly ok for others to proceed before you. No one should have to wait on you and it might take the pressure off you if you’re struggling to get up from your seat.
If you have a quick connection, I’ll also let you through, assuming you make that request known to other passengers; yes, you’ll meet a passenger who will grumble at the request, but for the most part, we’ve all dealt with the experience of rushing to a gate. (The Post recommends letting an attendant know this in advance, so they can provide you with gate information or find you a seat up front upon landing.)
Tim’s situation is a unique one and he makes a strong case; after all, he would have had to deplane last had he not preemptively grabbed his bag. Unfortunately, it’s just not what would be considered a best practice.
As we’ve written before, overhead compartment space is a first-come, first-serve commodity; if you board last, you’re shit out of luck. And if you board late and are forced to stow your bag behind you, sorry Tim, you were knee-deep in shit.
On the other hand, he did have several alternative solutions to his problem. The first answer would have involved some polite shoving, while informing his fellow passengers of the need to grab his bag. If the bag was close enough to his seat, he could have also asked a passenger to assist him. (He wouldn’t have made friends doing this, admittedly, but others might’ve been more sympathetic.)
The other, easier option would have been to wait until he saw an opportunity to go for his bag when those behind him were stalled. Granted, there’s only so much you can do if your bag is that far behind you, but it might have been worth a shot.
So to our readers, we ask: Do you get annoyed when passengers bolt up from their seats upon landing? What’s the correct way to deplane a flight? And is Tim an unfeeling sociopath?