Airport Etiquette: Cutting Security Lines When Running Late?

Filed Under: Travel

Reader Mike asked the following question on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog:

What are you thoughts on those in security lines that ask to jump ahead because they’re late? Just yesterday I was called an asshole by some guy whose family was running behind to catch a flight and I refused to accommodate. Regardless of the reason, I’m late, they’re late, why should I allow another person ahead to increase my chances of misconnecting?

It’s an interesting question, and one I don’t have an answer to. So I’d love to hear what you guys think.

On one hand I’m a firm believer in the quote which goes “a lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.”

At the same time, this is one of those situations where I can see both sides:

You should have planned better

Most of the time when people are running late for a flight it’s within their control. Not that they wanted to be running late so that they’d have to ask people for a line cut at security, but rather they didn’t leave enough of a buffer. It’s kinda like when you’re supposed to meet someone for drinks at 6PM, and then they show up at 6:30PM and say “sorry I’m late, traffic was horrible.” During rush hour, really?!? You don’t say!

Despite having flown millions and millions of miles, I’ve only once ever missed a flight at my origin, and in that case I overslept so much that I didn’t bother going to the airport.

But is it worth the aggravation?

But it’s also possible that the person has a “legitimate” situation. They had a late inbound flight, had a family emergency and needed to book a ticket last minute, had an accident on the way to the airport, etc.

Is it worth giving them the benefit of the doubt? And even if it isn’t, is it worth the aggravation to be “that” person that doesn’t let them in?

I go with the crowd…

My personal philosophy is that I go with whatever the others in line do. If they let someone through, I’ll do the same. If they don’t, I typically won’t either.

If I’m the last person in line and they ask to cut me, it’s all about how they ask:

“I hate to ask, but I just got off an international flight and my connection leaves in 20 minutes. Do you mind if I cut you?”


If someone’s strolling up with a latte, three carry-ons, is on their cell phone, and says “it’s okay if I cut you, right?”

Hell to the naw.

Bottom line

I don’t think Mike was in the wrong at all. And I certainly don’t think being called names over not letting someone line cut is warranted.

How about you? Do you let people cut you in line at security if they claim to be running late? If so, under what circumstances?

  1. First, a disclaimer. I’m from Portland. This is not common behavior here at PDX.

    For me, I always always let people by with a smile. Yes, I’m mildly irritated – why such an emergency? – but my travel combined with family and on-site work has caused me to be in the same situation at times.

    If people abused it – the frequency was more than once every few queues – I would change my mind.

  2. Not always a “plan better” issue. Was once rebooked at JFK and new flight required terminal change with 40mins before departure. We ran the entire time, asked to cut in security and eventually got to the gate just after they closed the door. My wife pleaded them to reopen the door and actually convinced them to do it. I’m much more accepting of a line cut because of that experience.

  3. Mike described a situation in which he was also late and at risk of misconnecting. In that case, of course I’d feel comfortable saying no. But I usually have enough time so that I’m not sweating about making my own flight. So I usually say yes.

  4. No way in hell I’d let someone cut in front of me in an airport security line. People who are running late need to get to the airport earlier.

  5. I’d say that being late because you’re connecting from a delayed international flight to a domestic flight is firmly outside of one’s control and having to reclear security after immigration & customs just exacerbates the problem, so understanding from fellow passengers goes a long way.

  6. It’s all about Karma. If I let people through who are running late, I expect to be let throw if I’m running late. Waiting an extra 30 seconds or minute in TSA is not going to kill you. Side note, get TSA Pre Check so you never have to worry.

  7. Luckily I don’t encounter this anymore with pre-check but back when I used to travel at least once a week for work, I would occasionally have some issue causing me to be late to the airport (e.g. booked a cab over 24 hours in advance, then that morning when I called after they were late they said it would be over 1 hour late…absurd and for my own lack of planning) and might have to ask to cut in line. If someone else was equally late, as in <20 minutes before departure, I would understand them not letting me cut but anyone else I don't see why it matters if it would be a huge help to me and barely any inconvenience to you.

    I find it extremely selfish if someone has a blanket philosophy that no matter what, they would never let someone cut saying it's poor planning on that other person's part. Perhaps, but how can you have so little sympathy for other people? If you have plenty of time to get to your flight why not help another person or family out.

  8. I did let a family that was nearly in tears at Chicago T5 I believe (the international one with no pre check). They showed me their boarding pass and it would have been a close call regardless. No idea if they ever made it

  9. I’d ask “what time is your flight and why are you late?”

    Go from there.

    Separately – the whole flagship thing at JFK and LAX is embarrassing. Going to the front of the ID check makes sense, but the helper cutting you to the very front of the XRay queue is a bit much.

  10. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an over-polite Midwestern transplant. However, commuting by air from MCO means that at 6:30am in Precheck, if you’re at the end of the X-ray belt wmptying your pockets I’ll pass you and send my one bag through. I also ask to cut all the tourists who didn’t know their iPhone was made of metal and take 5 minutes apiece to figure it out. Several of the TSOs know me by sight and wave me through without prompting. I live 15 minutes from the airport for a reason, I don’t want to spend my 10 minutes of Starbucks time stuck behind Kettles on the way home from Disney.

    I realize this is a different kind of cutting, but after countless times waiting for CPAPs to be removed from bags I’ve lost almost all patience. Maybe it’s the fact that 1/2 of PreCheck pax here are over 70, or fly once every few years. I had Clear for a while, but given that the doc check is the fastest part for me I gained $200 in beer money instead.

  11. Its not always the travellers fault.

    I recently flew as a non-rev UA SYD-SFO (standby). UA doesn’t process the standby travellers until 45-60 minutes before the flight departs (after it closes at the 60 minute mark). They then leave those non-rev’s to fight their own way to the plane, after lining up for immigration and the security check. That easily takes 40 minutes at SYD international on a good day. If the traveller doesn’t make it to the gate by the departure time, and the plane door closes, there is no protection for that traveller since they are travelling on a non-rev basis (they won’t be protected on another flight). In this case, it’s not the fault of the travellers.

    Having experienced this, I’m much more accommodating to others in this situation as it’s not always their fault.

  12. I’ve been on both sides of the situation before, so as long as the person trying to cut asks nicely and doesn’t seem like they are just trying to cut for the heck of it, I’ll let them through. The situations where I’ve had to ask were for 1. connections off delayed flights that required clearing security again or 2. being delayed at work so I couldn’t leave when I actually wanted to leave (and being told that there was “plenty” of time to get to the airport.). It is certainly stressful asking a line full of strangers if you could pretty please go ahead because your flight departs in 20 minutes. Sure, you could interrogate the person why they need to cut, but I don’t think it’s any of my business and why not give them the benefit of the doubt? Maybe it’s the guys first time flying and didn’t know better? Maybe the baby had an “accident” just before leaving? Maybe they forgot a piece of luggage? Maybe their meeting ran longer and they couldn’t leave? Yea, it sucks to wait another minute in security, but it sucks A LOT more to miss a flight. Hopefully next time they’ll plan better if its their fault, and if its not their fault then really the right thing to do is to let them through.

  13. I’ve been in a situation like this at LGA CTB, where there were 6AM flights leaving, but the checkpoint only opened at 5:30. A close call for many (including me, who had a 6:30 flight) and a hellish time for the woman patrolling the priority lane, who had to judge people’s stories and let them in. This was a matter of faulty airport policy, and not anyone’s fault in this situation

  14. Unless I am running late myself, of course I would let someone cut in front of me if they ask. No explanation required. I usually turn to the person behind me in line and say “as long as it’s ok with you” and I have never had anyone say it’s a problem. We have all been in situations where we are worried or stressed about being late – so be generous, it can’t hurt.

  15. @Beau – you managed to slam stupid tourists, elderly, and infrequent travelers in one short post.

    Looks like you’re making good progress in exorcising that humbly admitted “over-polite Midwestern transplant” label.

  16. As others have pointed out Lucky, not always a planning issue. International connections require rescreening security and just last month when we were at LHR T5, it was a total mess on both occasions and there were clearly folks who were going to misconnect, especially with the 35 minute rule there.

  17. I agree that how they ask makes a big difference. Since I typically arrive way before I need to, I’d probably let some one in as long as they were extra polite about it. But since I have pre-check most of the time there really is no line.

  18. At Logan, if the line is long they will have someone go through the line at 6:30 and ask if anyone is on the 7:00 and herd them all into a special line.

    I don’t really have a problem with that.

  19. We had that happen to us in Johannesburg. We were connecting there and had to go through security again (another story) and with all the people that were also going through security and with only two agents working, it took forever. We probably let about 50 people cut ahead of us as did everyone else. There was not lack of planning, just very slow agents.

  20. @ Beau

    I don’t have a problem with people gracefully going ahead if they are ready to accept another person and I’m not ready. However, if the people dealing with their stuff aren’t really slowing you down because there are people in front of them, that’s a different story.

    And BTW, most pre-check stations don’t require you to take out your CPAPs. So the issue at MCO is the gate agents, not the people not taking out CPAPs.

  21. Hmm… I always felt ugh about this. Many people plan carefully and come to the airport early and it’s very annoying to have to have someone cut, for whatever reason. I remember at Logan, seeing business women/men cutting in line curtly saying “sorry, we’re running late” and just jumping ahead and I thought that was very unacceptable given that since it was 6-7am, it probably was their departure flight and there should be little contingencies to keep them late.

    When you are cutting, you are not only cutting the person standing near the front of the line, but the whole freagging line with ton of other stressed people.

    But, I’ll try to be more generous with when I’m asked.

  22. Lucky – UK airports (Manchester, Birmingham) usually have a security person who will look at your boarding pass and let you move to the front of the queue if you are running late. You cant really abuse the system as they will only let you through if your flight is leaving soon!

  23. Lucky, myself I always let people cut in. Tge real frustration is the mismanagement of millions of dollars on security that we pay, and thw crappy security product we receive. At the price we pay, there is no excuse for ling lines.

  24. i have let people who have an obvious, urgent issue cut in line, in fact I have helped people in that situation. Until you walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins…

    I’ve been on the generous receiving end of a need to bypass the line. My daughter and I returning to the US via YYZ discovered our baggage was short-checked to YYZ instead of going on to DEN. After some mighty scrambling we found our luggage, had it rechecked by United and had to once again go thru security. I was very polite, as I tried to catch my breath, asking if we could cut thru the line. Everyone was more than willing to help, at least it appeared that way. We JUST BARELY caught our flight and the kindness of others helped that situation.

    I’d rather be kind and give the benefit of the doubt than unkind and never know when I need to rely on the kindness of others. It happens!

  25. @Beau, also an MCO flier and I live 4 miles away. Maybe you are a neighbor?! Yes, MCO is a cluster…. Lots of tourists who aren’t regular travelers. Makes security sometimes well over an hour. Thank goodness for Pre. I always plan to arrive extra early and plan no layovers less than 1.5 hours domestic or 2.5 hours international. Close connections cause issues, particularly with so many delays now days. Plan accordingly, arrive early is my motto.

    But then I go and do something stupid. A few years back I got to the TSA line and I have no ID. I grab a taxi, 4 miles home, grab my passport, back to MCO Orlando in 30 minutes total, and the line is easily 1 hour and this is before Pre, and Clear is out of business at this time. TSA agent cares less, my ex husband (Homeland Security supervisor) is not on duty. I have 30 minutes till wheels up, and an hour line. I begged, I pleaded. I had a job interview in Dallas! Thank goodness for kind travelers who let me pass. i was humble and of course very appreciative. Rudeness does not beget compassion.

  26. If you’re truly late, it’s best to ask a ticket agent directly for an escort to the front of the queue – the higher tier you have in the airline’s program, the more likely this will be successful.

  27. I also don’t have much compassion for those that “run late” because that’s what they do everyday. To me the best response to have them ask the first 3 people behind me if they mind if I let them cut in front as it doesn’t just effect me.

  28. Not everyone wants to add such a “buffer”that they spend two hours sitting at the gate 99% of the time just so they don’t miss their flight on the 1% of occasions that a cab breaks down. Unless I’m also at risk of missing my flight, what’s the harm? Let em through. I’ve had to do it myself a couple of times.

    That being said, most travelers don’t have a clue how boarding operates, so I always ask to see their boarding pass to reassure them. I know the layout of the airport better than they do, and I can explain what “final boarding” vs “gate closed” means. Once they know they don’t actually need to cut the line, they calm down.

  29. The worst is when the crew cuts in front of you and then you go to the bagel store and see them in the line in front of you. WTF.

  30. Ive never actually said no to anybody but I would under the right circumstance, basically exactly the same as you outlined which I did witness once and wanted so badly to say no but they didn’t even ask anyone, they just went straight to the front. Turns out they were on my flight and I saw them at the gate, laughing, chugging Starbucks, relaxing. Serenity now!

  31. I think this moral superiority is just an excuse for selfishness. Unless I’m in potential danger of missing my flight, I always let people through. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for being late and even if someone is late by their own fault, what’s the real cost to me or the others that they cut? Unless there’s only one metal detector, letting even the most kettlesque family of four in front of me adds maybe 5 minutes to the wait at most. I can’t think of anyone for whom five minutes of time is worth more than helping to ensure someone doesn’t miss their flight.

  32. “No way in hell I’d let someone cut in front of me in an airport security line. People who are running late need to get to the airport earlier.”

    For the person who posted the above comment, let me say that two months ago I was on an international flight that arrived in the U.S. three hours late. I was already at the airport.

    It was the late aircraft that caused the situation. I had Global Entry for immigration but the TSA pre check line was not open. People were nice enough to let me through. I made my flight by two minutes.

    Not everyone has control over being late.

  33. Skimming the comments it seems like only one person pointed out an issue that the post doesn’t address…. When you let someone cut you are making a decision for yourself AND everyone else in line behind you.

    To be truly fair, if someone asks to be let into the line, the person who lets them in should LEAVE the line and take their default position at the end of line. Essentially swapping positions in line so nobody else pays a penalty for your kindness.

    If you aren’t willing to SWAP positions in line you aren’t in a position allow others to cut the line.

  34. Why ask people in line? Get the attention of the airline rep who is working the area and ask them to escort you through.

    I’ve had to employ this lifeline more than once since my travels became a family affair. The agents are almost always sympathetic and helpful. And have gotten us onto flights we would have otherwise missed.

    When roles are reversed, do I mutter under my breath and act like an entitled jerk who feels no one deserves to cut the line? Sometimes. But bottom line… he who hesitates waits. Do what you gotta do and don’t look back.

  35. Not simply poor planning issue. I let people through. Sometimes security at small airports call out flights that may push through. I had to push through once with daughter and was explaining and apologizing as went through but someone tried to prevent it and we just pushed right on through that person. The jerk then started yelling for police and everyone just looked at him including security and that was it. We were last ones to make this connecting flight in wonderful LAX where you sometimes have to leave the terminal and catch a shuttle to another terminal and go through security there just to connect ….as doors closed behind us.

  36. Why not let them through? It’s only one person after all, and how much extra is that going to add to YOUR wait time? I compare it to drivers who are so reluctant to let you merge into rush-hour traffic — it’s ONE car, fer Gawd’s sake…is it going to make that much difference? And when the line splits into the varied Walmart-salaried security agents, who knows, maybe you’re going to end up in the faster line anyway?
    Seems to me that accusing them of poor planning — you probably don’t know the real reason why they’re late — is totally invalid, since if you have planned well, you should be there with lots of spare time anyway.
    Can’t we be kind to our fellow humans once in a while? There’s enough stress at the airport already — just chill out. It might make you feel better about yourself.

  37. I’ll personally look at how they ask and what their situation is. But yes, plan ahead. I’ve only once missed a flight and tshat was because there was an accident on thre highway and traffic was terrible. I left 3h before departure and still missed it. This Wed, I’m gonna be leaving 5h before departure to ensure I dont miss my flight…

  38. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt and allow it if I am not at risk of missing my flight. That said, I have a bigger problem with having to allow the crews to gain immediate access because they are “crew”. Nobody allows me free access on the freeway when I need to go to the office when commuting.

  39. @Atif

    I don’t really think the people behind you are really relevant. Every time I have been in this situation, the late person is cutting their way through the line. I wouldn’t have the option to let them cut or not if they hadn’t already received the approval of those behind me. Even if that weren’t the case, I frankly don’t care that much about adding 5 minutes at most to the wait time of someone so self-centered that they wouldn’t do the same thing. Being late to the airport is something that has happened or will happen to almost all of us at one point or another.

  40. Depends if they ask or not. I had one woman cutting in front of us because we were moving too slow for her in an hour long immigration line. it wasn’t going to get her through faster anyway. I really chewed her out. Telling her what a terrible example she was for my 6yr old. She was pretty embarrassed.

  41. I do this maybe once or twice a year. But I never ask passengers – if I am late, I simply walk to an agent and say “Sir/Ma’am, my flight door is closing in 5 minutes, is there any way I can go to the front of the shortest line?” The agent looks at my ticket and typically takes me to the front of the priority security line (I typically don’t have automatic access to those lines).

  42. Abolish the TSA and let airline companies handle security. They’ll most likely find the best solution(s) as their bottom lines are effected.

  43. I usally let people go through if i am not in a huge hurry. Not just during the Chistmas season or any time, I practice if I be kind to others, most likely I will be receiving kindness back. I know many of you have your own reasons to justify, but I believe the world just needs a bit more love and help. Not trying to be on the moral high ground. We often make mistakes no matter if you are a million miles frequent flyer, or the first timer, Just a bit nicer and more loving at situations like this. Easy say, hard to do. May we all pass some love to others at the holiday travel season.

  44. Technically one can’t decide for everybody else in the line up behind him/her. I mean even if I said Okay for the them to cut me, who am I to decide that on behalf of everybody else behind me in the line?

    So ya, provided I’m not gonna be late for my own gate and if the line ain’t long and somehow I can confirm with the 4 people behind me that it’s okay with them, then sure.

    If I’m the last one in the line, then sure…once again if I’m not risking missing my flight.

    And ofcourse, depends on how the person addresses his/her request for favor to me.

    I have been in somewhat similar situation once trying to make a connecting flight at ORD (gawd I am never a fan of ORD going in on one terminal and out the other). I didn’t want to impose that kind of request on strangers for all I know they may be running late too. What I did was I went to one of the airline agents instead to ask him if he could in anyway help get us through the security to make our flight which was due to shut the gate in just 10 mins (was delayed from inbound flight). Luckily the agent was kind enough to escort us through one of the security lines and we made out flight. The line was beyond long. Without him escorting us, we for sure would have missed our flight. I made sure to get his name and wrote to the customer service complimenting him on his beyond expectation assistance.

  45. I really like the system they have at Frankfurt Airport (is it terminal 3?). They have a display showing flights leaving in the next 30-60 minutes or so. If you’re on one of those flights, you can pass security through a special line. Simple but works like a charm.

    I’ve had people crossing in front of me and I’ve had to politely ask to do it myself. Sometimes accidents happen on the freeway and even though you think you took more than enough time, it can be difficult. I honestly really dislike people that won’t ever let anyone pass. Come on, sh*t happens, to anyone. You might catch the occasional ass that just doesn’t want to leave on time, but most of the times it’ll be people that really had bad luck. Give them a break, be a good person. There are already more than enough things wrong with this world.

  46. Personally, I always give the benefit of the doubt and allow people to cut in front of me except if I, myself, am late. In that case I let them know that we’re in the same boat and therefore ask them to get behind me (with the next guy’s permission). The problem with cutting is that even if it’s okay with me, what about those behind me? It’s not fair to assume that they’re all okay with it, so technically the “cutter” should ask everyone from the back of the line to the front and get behind the first person who is not okay with them cutting. So it’s not that simple…

  47. For me personally, I have do this experience as well.

    I came 50 minutes before my flight from CMH to Toronto, ON, and the air canada counter already closed, my bad. And right beside is UA check in who can help me to make it short. There is totally no line, and my boarding pass can print all the segment through CGK, however, There is a luggage problem that takes about 30 minutes, that she couldnt print the luggage tag, and after all, she wrote it manually. Fast forward, I get the last call from AC which is just 20 minutes away from departure (not boarding), and want to cut only 2 people ahead me, which I ran so fast, Surprisingly, not those 2 man and lady who did not allow me to cut the line, but the racist TSA who shout to me to go back behind the lady. For me, this is just discrimination and racist, knowing the fact that I am asian, and maybe only 5’6″, I don’t say all american racist, but few of them yes!

  48. I’ve been late plenty of times but I’ve never once asked to cut in front of everyone else. The people who ask to cut are folks who were never taught to hold themselves accountable for their own lack of planning. Essentially they were never weened properly and now they beg strangers to bail them out instead of pleading with their mommy and daddy. Seems as though maturing into a self sufficient adult has become too hard for today’s lazy self entitled children. Now if I was in line for medical treatment and someone shows up with a mortal wound then sure I’ll let you cut. But you really expect me (and everyone behind me) to believe that missing a flight would be more than your feeble psyche can handle? Suck it up cupcake.

  49. ORD T5 security check is a madhouse. I once stood in line for 40 minutes waiting to get through, and that was with 5 manned machines. Clearly several heavies taking off at the same time, but not helped by the constant flow of pax in wheelchairs that were ushered in front of lines 30 pax long. I don’t mean to be rude, but sooo frustrating to have three escorts in a row shove my bags back to put someone else’s bags on the conveyor when I’ve been waiting patiently for 35 minutes.
    I now make sure I get to the T5 TSA line an hour and half before the door closes.

  50. @ Dax – You must be a barrel of fun at a Christmas party. (“You wish to partake of a pretzel from MY pretzel bowl? NEIN!! You were never weened [sic] properly and now you want me to bail out your pretzel needs. THESE ARE MY PRETZELS AND YOU MAY NOT PARTAKE YOU LAZY SELF ENTITLED CHILD”)

  51. @ Dax

    Is waiting an extra couple minutes in line really more than your feeble psyche can handle? There are so many reasons why people could be late, but even if its not a “legitimate” one, do you really think a couple minutes of your time is more valuable than the often massive time and sometimes financial costs of someone missing their flight? I could only see it being a problem if you were also cutting it close to making your flight, in which case, maybe you should have planned better yourself.

  52. This is one area where I feel the agents do a really good job. Delta at LGA is a great example of this IMO. The lanes at security, both at C and D, tend to be very unpredictable. Agents will often pull passengers out of line if their flight is imminent.

    There is nothing wrong with this, and it’s also not a question of selfishness or fairness, but rather one of efficiency. If your flight is departing in 20 minutes and mine in 40, and the agent wants you to go first, why not? It saves a lot of headache not only for the passenger in question but also for the airline: if you miss the flight, they would either wait for you to show up at the gate–> delay; or have to pull your bags –> delay.

  53. “I really like the system they have at Frankfurt Airport (is it terminal 3?). They have a display showing flights leaving in the next 30-60 minutes or so. If you’re on one of those flights, you can pass security through a special line. Simple but works like a charm.”

    that’s the way to do it.

  54. I generally let people through. There’s really no way for me to tell if someone planned poorly or if they are in a situation outside of their control, so as long as they’re not rude I always let them through. That said, if I were late myself, I wouldn’t have any issue saying no either.

  55. I’m trying very hard as I get older to avoid caring about things that don’t affect me. The jerk who speeds up in a merge lane to get ahead of me is a good example. I have my visceral reaction, but I’m trying real hard to just let it go. It’s such wasted energy. This one falls right in that category. The problem I have with the situation, though, is why me? Why do I have to decide? If someone asks to cut in front of me, why does it suddenly become my responsibility to decide for the entire line? I guess that’s just how it works. It’s not that I want to be mean, and as I said I’m trying not to care, but there may very well be a guy behind me in line who also through no fault of his own is on a very tight connection who decided not to ask to cut, and here I am letting someone else cut in front of me and pushing that guy one guy further back in line. Then again, nothing is worse than the guy ten back in line who, when you let someone cut, gets all attitudinal and starts screaming, “hey what’s going on up there, get to the back of the line.” Almost certainly this is the guy that you see again when you get past security. He’s two hours early for his flight, and he’s holding up the entire Starbucks line by getting to the register and realizing that there’s a paying event and he has to take out his wallet.

  56. One word – Karma.

    If I’m not running late (there is always a distinct possibility I might be), it makes no difference to me if someone who is apparently in a hurry would like to cut in line. I’ve had to do it and believe me, am ever so appreciative when I’m allowed through. It’s usually easy to tell by the look on someone’s face or by their demeanor if it is a true ’emergency’.

  57. If I’m late, I never ask fellow passengers – I ask the airline or security personnel and since it’s “their” line, not the passengers, it’s their call whether to accommodate me or not. On the flip side, I don’t mind standing in line another couple of minutes so someone else can make their flight, but I’d prefer if they went through the authorities rather than me. Only time I’ve said no is when I was cutting it close or running late myself.

    Side note, was flying right before Thanksgiving once, and the security line stretched outside the terminal and down the block. When I got near the front, Kareem Abdul Jabar looked at the line, went to the front, and cut in. No one complained.

  58. I was in Frankfurt when a well healed very good-looking American 30-something couple pranced to the front of the security line and pleaded their case for cuts. They were late, etc., etc. The person in line was about to let them in, when 60-something German man from near the end of the line came up and explained to them that their behavior was unacceptable. I wish I had the courage to do that, I wish I had the courage to give the man a round of applause. Other people get up early, plan ahead, and deal with emergency issues without inconveniencing others. These people are douches. More and more people are douches and they should be ashamed of themselves.

  59. Do you know why they were late? A crash on the autobahn? Poor planning?
    You don’t give enough info to determine whether or not their late arrival was excusable.

  60. @Kathy, and others, I would disagree that it is a zero-sum game at the end. Just because one person gets something extra doesn’t automatically translate into someone else getting less. The person allowed to cut ahead gets to make their flight. But by doing so you don’t lose your flight. At most you wait 30-60 seconds greater in line.

    Plus, while some people are presumably lazy and feel entitled to show up at the airport 30 minutes before their flight and cut in front of everyone else, there are probably equal if not more who were caught up in unexpected traffic, a baby who vomited jus before leaving the house and had to be changed, unexpected closure of a TSA lane, leading to backups in others….

  61. As a person who works at an airport, I’d say the best way to cut in line at a security checkpoint is to have the airline you are flying on escort you to the checkpoint. This way you don’t have to ask other passengers. Also note that all airlines don’t participate in pre check.

  62. A friend who travels a lot for work told me that in small airports, the passangers who sit near the gate are concidered to be already in line, so when the actual line is formed, they can just join in the line from the sides of it and integrate in the line. I told him that it sounds like cutting in line, but he said he saw it happens many times and no one got upset over it. Have you ever encountered this?

  63. I don’t find it happens too often, so I generally have no problem letting someone cut the line infront of me. If it became a prolific issue I face, like seat swap requests, I would take a stand.

    I myself have been known to cut infront of slow people in the security line..but ONLY at the bins before the xray. Yesterday as a matter of fact. I was behind a little old lady who was completely ill prepared for the TSA check..all her jewelry was still on, she didn’t have toiletries bagged, and was asking question after question of the TSA agent, and then was having trouble hearing him.

    I just stepped infront of her and put my stuff in a bin and went through. I think it is reasonable when you have a true slowpoke at the bins. And it’s not always little old ladies either, just random people taking their sweet time removing their shoes, or going back into their bags to get things out. We have planes to catch.

  64. Well, let’s put it this way… If you’re “that” guy, you’re basically ruining someone else’s travel because your pride couldn’t take a 10 second delay. So what if he’s at his own fault for being late? The fact of the matter is, he had a real shot at actually making the flight until you essentially denied him the flight. Period.

    In turn, you gained, well, nothing really, and he lost everything. Had you let him through like most people do, you would’ve lost 10 seconds of your life, but you would’ve secured a whole entire flight for him.

    Think about how you would like to be treated if you’re ever late fo your flight, whatever the reason. Probably wouldn’t want to be standing their explaining your dire situation to everybody in the line, especially if it’s a long one.

  65. We were just cut in line by a woman at NY LGA. This was one of those really long, serpentine lines that took me about 45 minutes to clear. Rather than duck under the rope barriers, this woman went through the entire line, and personally asked every every person if it was ok to move ahead of them.

    By the time she got halfway to the front she was sprinting as the folks had collectively decided to clear the way for her. I left on time but the public transportation to the airport took about 45 minutes longer than it was supposed to. I was agitated and annoyed bit how could I not let this woman through.

    I don’t think all of that is necessary, but out of all the lines I’ve been in usually no one is skipping, and if it happens it’s never more than one person per trip. So I figure go with the crowd, let them through. It doesn’t appear that people abuse this, and if people are actually using this as a strategy they are psychos that can’t help themselves anyway.

    Also I’ve been in ridiculous security lines where the people around me have actually told me to cut them. So I guess I’m sympathetic because I’ve been there myself

  66. No. The only people I encounter who cut are Chinese passport holders and they never ask. Not once in my experience. I just stop them and ask what the problem is. Majority of the time they just push through me so rude and don’t say anything. Once, the Chinese passport holder stopped and said my flight is already boarding. I told her no. Not my problem. She pushed my carry-on aside and still went through the entire line. Nobody says anything in the line because they’d rather save face around here than call someone out for being wrong. Saw her an hour later walking around the concourse. Her flight didn’t even start boarding yet by that time. I don’t like favors or being in debt to someone. I’m okay with missing my flight no matter how important that particular flight is, I won’t ask a friend or a total stranger to accommodate me.

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