There are a lot of hotly contested airplane etiquette topics out there, ranging from who controls the window shades, to whether reclining your seat is a right or privilege. I have strong opinions on most of these topics, though there’s one thing I’m constantly going back and forth it.
This is minor in the grand scheme of things, and every time I consider writing about it I say to myself “this probably isn’t significant enough to warrant a discussion.” But it happens to me so often, and I’m curious to hear how you guys handle this.
“Please stay seated to allow those with connections…”
I feel like this has been happening more and more lately. Your flight is running behind schedule, and either shortly before landing or just after landing, the flight attendant announces something along the lines of:
“I’m going to ask you for a favor. We have some passengers making tight connections, and we would really appreciate if you could stay seated after the seatbelt sign goes off to allow these people to deplane first. We know you’d appreciate that same courtesy if you were in their shoes.”
Or something along those lines. Sometimes they’ll ask the passengers making tight connections to ring their call buttons so they can be identified, sometimes they’ll give a specific time range for what they consider to be a tight connection, and sometimes they’ll just let people decide for themselves what constitutes a short connection.
On the surface this is a nice and logical gesture. If me sitting on the plane for a little extra time means someone will make it home to see their family, or make it on a well deserved vacation, I’m all for it.
But I’m becoming jaded when it comes to this, and I’m curious how you guys feel.
One problem: no one listens
The biggest problem with these announcements is that almost no one listens. So in those situations where I stay seated, I find that I’m basically the last person off the plane.
Heck, on a flight today we were over 40 minutes late, and one flight attendant recommended to the other flight attendant that they make such an announcement. “I’ve been doing it for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anyone listen.”
Yet she still made the announcement…
Actually, there are a lot more problems…
The fact that virtually no one listens is only one of the things that has made me jaded about this over the years. The other problems include that:
- People can’t be trusted to self-identify — often the people thinking their connections are really short actually don’t have short connections at all (they just don’t travel often, misread the boarding time as the departure time, etc.), or they already missed their connections, so have no chance of getting on that flight
- The people rushing are almost certainly going to miss their connections — American only cares about “D0,” which is departing on-time (and is ironic, because they’re not very good at it), so most of the time the people running off the planes have no way in hell of making their connection, when it leaves in five minutes from a different terminal (and they close the door 10 minutes prior to departure)
- People book stupid connections, and airlines are at fault for creating a system that encourages this — airlines rely so heavily on banked hubs and unrealistic minimum connection times; people probably shouldn’t have booked a 45 minute connection in Dallas to begin with, but it’s not really their fault when the airline displays those convenient-looking options so prominently
So, what do I do?
How do I handle these situations? I try to be courteous, which is to say that if the crew specifically identifies a few people, or if some people push forward, I’ll of course let them off first. But I’m done being the only person who listens.
It makes me feel bad to do that, but I also feel like there’s no point.
Goodness knows airlines waste enough of our time, and an extra five minutes upon arrival every other flight sure adds up.
Personally I think airlines need to do a better job managing these situations, rather than relying on passengers to step in and help. In other words, we’re supposed to do our part to help people make their connections, while gate agents close the door 10 minutes early on those people because those are the metrics they’re rewarded on.
This is something United has been doing a great job with lately. They’ve created a system whereby they do hold the flights for passengers strategically based on a variety of factors, and that has proven quite successful. I’d love to see more airlines apply a little more logic to holding flights for passengers.
Where do you stand on this — when flight attendants ask people to stay seated, do you listen? Do you appreciate when flight attendants do this?