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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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The Etiquette of Things: Getting Off An Airplane

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Etiquette of Things: Things You Didn’t Know Were Things. It is based on my annoyance with society as a whole and my Angry Professor persona (catch up on all Angry Professor posts here).

Here are other excerpts:

Based on the number of views, The Etiquette of Things: Things You Didn’t Know Were Things, will become a NYT best seller, easily eclipsing the mark set by my first book, Everyone’s Advice Is Wrong . . . Including Mine.

Today’s entry focuses on getting off of an airplane. It is meant for times when we inexplicably choose to fly Peasant Class.

When TPOL was Alex, he used to remain in his window seat in no urgency to get off the plane. Why? Because I used to fly with checked bags. Now I Pack 1/2 the Clothes and Twice the Money. When I flew Wow to Iceland (now defunct), I packed even less (see The World’s Greatest Travel Jacket: A Smuggler’s Tool). The advantage of having no bags is that I can get right off the plane and head straight to the nearest pub. The problem is that not everyone on board has my sense of urgency.

Contrast that with flying in mainland China. Before the plane is done taxiing, people are getting up and removing bags from the overhead bins. The “stay seated until the fasten seat belt sign is turned off” warning is ignored. As the plane gets closer to the gate, you can sense the anxiousness from everyone on board. The ‘ding’ is sounded and it’s a collective jack-in-the-box reaction from whomever hasn’t jumped up already. (Warning: if you’re going to compete for the ‘fastest to get off a plane’ award, be sure to unfasten your seat belt before springing up. I’ve done that many times and can verify that seat belts work.)

From there, bags are grabbed and people are storming down the aisle. If you’re fumbling for your carry on or not paying attention, jump in the aisle at your own risk. No one will yield to your lethargy. And that’s the way it should be.

In order to bring this organized chaos to the US, I have some proposals for my fellow passengers.

  1. Put your overhead bin in the opposite side of the aisle. It’s common sense for two reasons: 1) You can keep an eye out on your bag in case some person decides to go shopping during the flight. 2) It makes sense logistically. When you deplane, you don’t have to turn around, pick up your bag, and then head off the plane. By putting it in the opposite side, preferably, one row ahead, you can pick it up in stride and not break the departure rhythm.
  2. Get off your damn phone: Walking and texting is worse than texting and driving. Worse is waiting for someone hunched over in the middle seat pretending to be ready to get off the plane, only to find that they do not see that it is their time to go. Instead of yielding to the prepared person, they make everyone wait as they put their phone away, reach for their bag (which they have not put in the opposite aisle), and then head off the plane.
  3. Stand up! It’s not Ludacris. But why are you sitting down if you’re in the aisle seat? When I move you move. Just. Like. That. Otherwise, move b*t#@, get out the way.
  4. Sit down! If you don’t want to be rushed, then sit down and text to your heart’s content.
  5. Help people: The Etiquette of Things isn’t about being a jerk. If you see a person who is struggling with his/her overhead bag, volunteer to help. Don’t just stand there (looking down on your phone).
  6. Imagine you or the person next to you has to make a connection. This is the golden rule. If everyone followed this, there would be no issues. People would get off the plane or get out of people’s way.

What suggestions do you have? Hopefully, this tutorial will be played after the safety video demonstration.

a person's legs and a pocket with a red and yellow sign
Do you think I want to sit in this cramped chair any more than I have to?


  1. See, this article did not address my main pet peeve, which is you deplane from front to back. Some people just don’t understand that, and start pushing up the aisle to get ahead. It’s not a bus stop- we are all getting off! One of my favorite Flyertalk threads was the guy who wrote complaining about all the people who cut in front of him while he stood in the aisle to deplane. Another person who didn’t understand you get off front to back.

    Now, if someone stays seated, or is not actively moving to deboard, it’s fine to move past

    • That’s implied to me. But each person should be ready. A culture of cutting is created when people ahead aren’t prepared.

  2. Amen. All around. Also please for the love of pete don’t try to climb OVER me when I am in the aisle seat and have no where to stand up (other people have filled the aisle). If I can’t find room to get up, where the heck are you going to go?? Much less your bag that you want to get down??

  3. I’m not in love with waiting more than anybody else, but maybe you can explain to me why the mainland Chinese are so frantic about deplaning instantly. It’s like you’re some kind of sucker if you wait your turn.

    • haha no answer for you. It’s the same with the subway. nobody can get off because everyone is trying to get in

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