Who disembarks first? Passenger’s mad dash sparks airplane etiquette debate

Publish Date
Monday, 18 September 2023, 10:29AM
Photo / Instagram

Photo / Instagram

A passenger’s mad dash to be first to disembark a packed passenger plane has caused a stir online, sharing a video of his cabin-length rush.

Seated in row 25, the passenger unbuckles from his seat, bags in hand, and races to the front of the plane in 21 seconds flat.

Under the caption: “POV: you have 0 patience when getting off plane”, the unnamed passenger shared clip shared via Instagram.

The piece of aviation cinéma vérité captures the brief, bewildered surprise from the passengers as the traveller barges his way down the aircraft aisle. At points ducking past stood passengers, who were already opening the overhead bins, the dash looked like a well rehearsed routine.

“I’m literally top 5 plane unboarder,” boasted the traveller.


The impressive clip has been viewed almost 10 million times has become a focal point for disembarking etiquette.

Among the thousands of comments, most said there was no need for the rude rush.

“Unless you’re about to miss your connecting flight, this is uncalled for,” wrote one.

Others said that if they saw someone rushing from the back of the aircraft they would step in to stop passengers at the back of the aircraft jumping the queue.

“I will get up just to block you,” wrote another. “Wait your turn.”

Although the majority of travellers were still seated chatting or looking at their phones, the pushy passenger sidled past others who were already in the aisle.

Some said it was more efficient to let speedy travellers disembark first, rather than expecting them to wait behind others.

“Everyone on the plane has two options get their s*** faster and be more organised or let those who are ready and have minimal luggage off.”

Who should disembark first?

Airlines (and passengers) have been searching for the most efficient way to disembark planes.

Whether that’s row-by-row from the front, in sections, or calling up passengers with connections first, nobody has found the answer.

No matter who gets off first, someone will be stuck waiting.

Last year The Journal of Air Transport Management published what it claimed to be the most efficient way to disembark a narrow-body commercial airliner.

In a large-scale modelling experiment, the report showed disembarking all passengers from the aisle, then middle seats followed by the window could be the fastest way to empty a plane.

This counter intuitive plan was shown to be 35 per cent faster, with greater efficiency on larger aircraft.

However, this model relies upon perfect coordination and cooperation from all passengers. Just one rogue passenger rushing the front could throw all efficiencies off.

In many cases the planes were the problem, not the passengers. A 2019 study from the Delft University of Technology identified several bottlenecks on planes that need to be overcome before any great improvement can be made.

The first was around space for hand luggage and ease of accessing overhead or under-seat storage. Passengers gathering belongings was the main bottleneck and variable in disembarking. Others were around communication of boarding plans with passengers and the ability of travellers to follow them. Something passengers are not always ready to do.

Until airlines solve these problems, there will always be a passenger making a mad dash to disembark.


This article was first published in the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.

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