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Is it really necessary to stand up the moment your plane lands?

7 mins. read

Published in the Sunday Indian Express Magazine - Eye on 3 December, 2023

So last year I was on a flight in Europe, and the moment the plane landed, the crew made the usual announcement: “Passengers, please remain seated until the plane has come to a full stop, and the ‘fasten seat belt’ sign has been turned off.” But can you guess what happened next? I’m sure you have already! The moment the plane was off the runway and still moving, a few passengers stood up, started getting their bags out of the overhead bins, and sat back again. And as soon as the plane stopped at the gate, more than half the plane stood up, opened the overhead baggage bins, got their bags out, and just stood there waiting to get off the plane.

I’m sure you have seen this too; the crew keeps saying it again and again and again. And passengers anywhere all around the world just don’t seem to listen! So, at Veena World, we (our 350 Tour Managers and me) decided to put it to the test! We decided to experiment whether all this rushing, standing the moment the plane reaches the gate, and trying to get off the plane before everyone else, is really worth it?  Over the last year, I have taken a total of 41 flights. And if you add the flights taken by all Veena World tour managers, that’s easily more than 4,000 flights, given that we have a little more than 2,000 Group Tours departing through the year from different cities in India.

So before I tell you what all of us observed and concluded, let me tell you about my experience. Over the course of my plane travels through the year, I have had the opportunity to be on different types of aircrafts. I have been on single-aisle aircraft like the Boeing 737, the Airbus A320, Airbus A321, and on much larger aircrafts like the mighty A380, the A350, and the Boeing 787. I have also been on the super small ATR and a Bombardier too while travelling within India. And on each flight, we decided to test whether standing up and taking your bags the moment your plane is off the runway after landing or when it reaches the gate, saves you time.

How did we conduct this test: At every landing, there is always at least one person who will stand, take the bag from the overhead locker and be ready to go. So, what I would do is try and observe how fast they get through arrivals as compared to someone like me, who will still be waiting and chilling in my seat even after the plane has come to a complete stop. Why do I do that, I’ll tell you that at the end. So, every time a flight would land, I would try to see if someone had committed this cardinal sin of unfastening their seat belt, ignoring crew instructions, and trying to get their bag out.  This person would then become my point of reference. I will then keep observing this person all through immigration, baggage claim, customs, and then finally arrival exit to see if they really saved as much time.

So, what were the results like? Let's talk about a few of the test cases then. On a recent A320 flight from Udaipur to Mumbai, I was taking it easy and relaxing in my seat even after everyone was running for the exit door. I wait for all the passengers at the front of the plane to move ahead and stand and head for the door when my turn comes. And then where do I find the person when I finally decide to get off the flight? In the bus taking us from the aircraft to the terminal. And you know the funny thing, I got on the bus last, and because I was so close to the door, I managed to get off first. So, not obeying crew rules meant this person lost valuable seconds they wanted to gain.

Let’s take another instance. This time, my plane is connected to an aerobridge. In this case, there is no bus, so I was sure and worried that the test might fail. But again, after all of the running, where do I find the person who stood up when the fastened seat belt sign was still on? At baggage claim waiting for their bag. So, the same thing, no valuable seconds saved.  Let’s take the test on to a larger aircraft then. On a recent flight to Dubai on the mighty A380 from London, where you are at 35,000 feet with 400 or more passengers. Here too, I found that in spite of standing up the moment the plane was off the runway and was still taxiing to the gate, I happened to find this person at Immigration just about 6 - 10 people in front of me.  So, yep, the same result again! This was the case with the observations of most of the Veena World tour managers too! So, to everyone who has this habit, what are they really trying to achieve ?"

Are those 10 seconds that you think you save really that important that you put your safety and the safety of others at risk when the plane is still moving? These people may sometimes tell you that if the captain announces that `the crew can prepare for deplaning’ and that if the crew can stand up, that may mean they can stand and move around too. Well, wrong! The crew spends hours and hours training. They know what is safe and what is not. As for you, well, you may not. So, is it really worth it? So, after all of these flights, I found that on at least 70% of my flights, I exited the plane much after this ‘point of reference’ person did, but it actually worked in my favour. Last into the bus, first to alight. Bags, in any case, take time. So, what is the point of rushing? That’s it for today then, what do you think? Is it really worth all the rushing when the aircraft lands? Let me know by writing to me at Until the next time, as we always say at Veena World, keep Celebrating Life!

December 03, 2023


Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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