I spent the weekend in Buffalo snowmobiling with some very old friends. As I flew on several Southwest airlines flights I was reminded of a little piece of airplane etiquette that most people don’t think/know of.

Imagine you get on the plane and sit towards the front of the plane, but get on later in the process and the front overhead compartments are full. You move back to an open overhead compartment further and store your stuff then head up to your seat for the ride to wherever you are going.

When the plane lands, you need your stuff, right? So you politely push back toward the back of the plane and the location for your stuff. One you’ve retrieved your stuff, do you stay where you are, or are the people you’ve pushed past responsible for letting you make it back to your seat?

I say you stay where you are. What do you think?

I thought about this on one of my flights to Buffalo and on the way back I encountered it. I was in the third row and someone needed past me to get her stuff from further back in the plane. When I felt her trying to make her way back, I asked her ‘Going back for your stuff?’ and she responded, I can’t remember exactly what she said, indicating that she was going back but somehow expected to go back to the front rows when she was done.

Think about it – all sorts of people moved out of the way so she could make her way back. As they let her past, they compressed forward and took up the space she previously filled at the front of the plane. There isn’t the room nor the need to let her back up to her original position.

Anyway, because I’m a stinker, I noticed this and waited for her to begin her move back up to the front of the plane. I felt a tap on my shoulder and her request for me to let her by. I (politely of course) told her that I was trying to get out of her way (by leaving the plane) and she persisted by saying that she needed to get her purse.

She completely missed the point that everyone in front of her now were in the process of leaving the plane and that if she stayed in her position, she would quickly be able to collect the remainder of her stuff. Why did she immediately assume that all of us should get out of her way so that she could leave the plane sooner than us? Why was she so important that she had to leave earlier?

Anyway, she finally got the point and stayed where she was and was able to collect all of her belongings and get off the plane without treating us like she was more important than us.

If it’s me, I politely ask for help getting me back to where my stuff is then WAIT with everyone else to leave the plane from the position where I ended up. That seems to me to be the only fair way to do it.

What do you think?

 

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