You know the story of Noah’s Ark? It’s the one where Noah was chosen by God to take a pair of every single creature on earth, some 1.9 gazillion of them, and shove them all into a floating box a fraction of the size of today’s ocean liners before the rest of the world was flooded due to out-of-control sin.

Noah's Ark Illustration
Boarding a plane is often less civilized than the story where the animals were loaded into the ark. Noah’s Ark, oil on canvas painting by Edward Hicks, 1846 Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Well, boarding an aircraft is similar, but it needs to be done in about 45 minutes. You, yourself, don’t have 45 minutes to board, but rather the entire plane – which averages about a few hundred; this comes out to mere seconds per person to board, stow their luggage overhead, and be facing forward with their seat belt fastened and smiling, before the plane can back away from the gate. Thus, there are some common sense and courteous plane boarding etiquette rules that should be followed to ensure punctuality.

Don’t crowd the gate

Everyone hangs around the gate, and as the time to board draws nigh, the crowd packs in more and more closely. However, you must remember to leave enough room to let the first passengers board. You might think that these are the premium class folks, but really it is always the families with small children and the passengers with disabilities. These people need extra room to get by, as there are often strollers and wheelchairs involved. They won’t call the next wave of people to enplane until these guys are situated, so let them through.

Don’t appear drunk

You may have went to the bar after passing through security as you waited for your flight to start boarding, but try not to look too inebriated. In the United States and many other places, it is the law that states that the gate agents can deny you entry aboard the flight if you look wasted. And if you get questioned, remain calm and respectful; you’ll definitely get denied if you’re rude.

Boarding is not the time to ask questions

If you want to inquire about upgrading your seat or changing so that you can sit with a friend or loved one, boarding is not the time to do it. You should have done it days in advance, or at least before boarding had started, at the check-in counter or with the gate agent. When they call your class up to board, it is not the time to ask – you blew it; this is the time to be efficient; show your ticket to be scanned and move into the jetway.

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