Getting to the front of the plane after stowing your bag in the back

Ah, summer. Long days, warm breezes, and weekends at the pool. Oh, and an influx of infrequent travelers messing with the (relative) efficiency of business travel.

I mentioned last week how a woman blocked me from getting my suitcase because she was on her phone, in the Pre-check line of all places. Well, if you’ve flown recently it won’t shock you to hear that wasn’t the only eyebrow-raising breach of travel etiquette on that trip.

Here is one of the stranger ones.

There were no empty seats on the flight, per usual these days, and the overhead bins up front filled early in the boarding process. A woman seated up front was unable to find a place for her rollaboard, headed to the back to find a spot, and got her bag safely stowed.

What I would have expected at this point is for her to slowly make her way up front as space in the aisle allowed. Worst case she would have waited the five or ten minutes until boarding was complete. But not this lady! She literally pushed her way back the front, squeezing past those standing in the aisle, forcing them to turn sideways and lean over onto those already seated. A couple of times I even saw her step onto empty seats to get around people!

I totally get it–getting to the front of the plane is not always easy, waiting for a plane to board so you can get back to your seat is not fun. But pushing around people is not the way to get back to your seat! And the stepping on seats–no, please, no. If for some reason you are desperate to get back to your seat then at least ask politely if you can go around someone rather than shove them aside.

The reactions were muted, with a few people saying a loud, “Excuse me!” Like with many etiquette infractions, it seemed hard to know how to respond appropriately. Calling out someone’s bad behavior is not a comfortable thing!

Readers, how do you get back to the front of the plane after stowing your bag in the back?

Readers, have you seen any crazy stuff going through airport security recently?


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  1. I think I understand her. Someone sitting at the back put their carry-on upfront, thus she can’t find a place to put hers. That someone discomfort her so she discomfort anyone else in return.

    I’m not saying she is right. But as the saying goes, when in Rome, acts like Romans do. Rather than complaining she choose to chalk it up do as anyone occupying her above carry-on luggage space did.

  2. I’ve seen similar to this woman you mentioned, and it boggles me. Being on a plane seems to be, for many, like being in another city where no one knows them- they take it as an excuse to behave poorly. On a flight last year, they were about to board Group 1 and -and several of us in Group 2 had lined up ahead next to them, ready to go. When they called Group 1, a woman with a backpack walked right past all of us, bumping a few of us with the back pack. I said a loud, “sorry??” and another person made a similar comment. She obviously heard us and didn’t even say anything. The Gate Agent said to her it was Group 1 boarding (she apparently wasn’t even Group 1). She walked away. When they called Group 2 she again walked up right past several of us in line and just handed the gate agent her ticket – the agent took it (of course) and we all just glared. I was behind her and followed her, angrily, down the ramp. On the plane, an elderly woman from Group 1 was trying to put her luggage in the overhead and having a hard time with it. Backpack woman proceeded to try to shove her way past, pushing the elderly woman into the headrest. Usually, I’m pretty calm and try to stay zen and let stuff roll on the outside as I scream on the inside, but not this time. I reached out and grabbed a strap on the end of backpack woman’s pack, and just held it as she proceeded to keep trying to move past and squishing the elderly woman. She pulled forward several times as I held firm. Finally, she realized something was up and turned around, surprised to see I had been the cause. I just looked at her and said, “NO— you wait til she’s done.” By that point, the elderly woman had gotten her bag up (which any of us would have helped her, with if backpack woman hadn’t been in the way), and backpack woman stomped off and down the aisle. I still get angry thinking about it.

  3. @James I see your point.

    Time for a friendly reminder for everyone to try to put their suitcase as close to their seat as possible, not in the first available spot in the overhead bin. Smooches!

  4. @Roadwarriorette
    Thanks. But I think it is not customary in US. Another blogger in boardingarea mentioned to me that he can use whatever space available, first come first served. Thus, I somehow understand the intention of the backpacker as told above me, to rush the line.

    Oh well….

  5. It’s why I board as soon as they call for First. I don’t want to take a chance of someone not in F taking my overhead space. Seen it plenty of times after all my items are stowed and I am in my seat people watching and Y pax just throw their luggage over the F cabin. I remember which bags don’t belong there in case someone in F needs overhead space. I don’t mind when Y pax put their stuff there after everyone in F has been accommodated but not before. Much less of a problem on international premium cabins where the overhead to pax ratio is very good.

  6. @James I mean, sure, I guess technically you *can* use any space available. But I absolutely don’t think that you *should*. If all of the people sitting in the back put their bags in the front then all those in the front have to go to the back! That slows down boarding time and is just annoying.

  7. I’d love your opinion- if you were in this womans position, and had to put your bag at the back, how would you choose to go get it when everyone gets off the flight? Do you wait until the people at the back are getting up, or do you rush back there ASAP when the seatbelt light goes off?

  8. Worst is boarding passenger wearing oversized backpack who turns to look backwards and hits you upside the head and doesn’t say sorry or excuse me. Just happened on AA flight. Knocked me from a standing position to my seat. Not sure the person even knew he did it. Flight attendant saw it and came running to be sure I was okay.

  9. Backpacks should be removed from the person’s back before boarding. I have had my glasses knocked off, banged in the head from someone turning from side to side and also someone taking off their backpack trying to get into their seat. They actually laid their back pack on my lap (without asking) so they could go look for space for their other backpack.

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