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Faster Flights: Be a Better Boarder

Boarding a flight ranks high on the list of frustrating travel experiences. Break the boarding process down and you’ll find irritation after irritation: passengers slowing down the line by trying to sneak in ahead of their boarding group, seating delays caused by travelers trying to wedge oversized bags into overhead bins, people who wait until they’re blocking traffic to decide what they want out of their carry-ons.

Sure, a deep breath and a bit of perspective can help the exasperation that comes with funneling hundreds of people (and their stuff) down a single aisle. But there are plenty of ways that we as passengers can improve the boarding process, too. Like rush-hour traffic, little interruptions add up to longer delays, so small improvements can make a big difference.

I have my own list of things—inspired by past boarding experiences—I do to be a better boarder. I keep my ticket out so I make sure to sit in the right place, I use the overhead bin above my seat, and I clear the aisle as quickly as possible. But I was curious about other people’s tips as well. So I asked our readers on Facebook, and I’d like to ask you too: What are your tips for being a better boarder?

Here are some of the suggestions I’ve gotten so far:

Pay Attention Before Boarding

Better boarding starts even before you reach the gate. Susan Stelter McKee says be “on time so that you board in order when they call for the back of the plane.” Once boarding starts, says Sherry Carson, “Follow directions and board when told.”

Use Overhead Bins Efficiently

Overhead bins reach their limited capacity fast, so Rosalie Gjerde suggests “don’t take items that must be stowed in the overhead bins if at all possible.” If you do have baggage to stow overheat, Susi Beveridge Mapp says, “Put your overhead belongings by your own seat. When people put them in the first available spot and then go sit in the back of the plane, the people sitting there must then take time to search for another place for their belongings.”

Be Organized

Don’t wait until you’re onboard and blocking the aisle to decide what you want quick access to once you’re seated. Paula Plosila Pitts advises “Have the items that you want on the flight in a small bag to put under your seat or in the seat back and eliminate the ten minute rummaging though your carry-ons to find your magazine, etc. while you are standing in the aisle and playing in the overhead bin.” Karen Kelly can vouch for this technique, saying, “My daughter and I carry a small pack that we put all our cords, books, and snacks in. When it is time to board we just remove it and get on the plane.”

Sit Down Quickly

It’s a simple tip but one worth mentioning. Lee Verity Densmer boils it down: ” It’s all about being able to handle your luggage quickly. SIT DOWN and then get settled!” Forget something in the overhead bin? Lea Hatch recommends waiting in your seat until boarding is complete: “Once everyone has boarded, THEN you can stand up and decide what you want to take out of the overhead items.”

Remember You’re in This Together

These tips help speed the boarding process, but if you only remember one thing about being a better boarder, let it be this tidbit from Don Schrum: “Think about others, not just yourself.”

What other tips do you have for better boarding?

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