Where to stand when waiting to board

a sign in a buildingWhere is the best place to stand when you’re waiting to board your flight? Reader L asks…

I need help figuring out where I should wait in the gate area to board my flights. I know you say not to get too close to the boarding line but I can’t tell when they are calling my group number otherwise! The last time I flew I walked up during boarding right as they were calling my group number. I waited behind people I thought were in line, but they weren’t–they were just standing there. I asked if they were in the line to board and they said yes, even though they actually weren’t. It was so weird! How do I handle people blocking the way?

Wow, that is strange! It sounds like you’ve got a couple of different questions for me to address.

For your first question it sounds like you’re asking general boarding area etiquette. The best way to avoid gate crowding is to stay seated until they call the group before yours. Once they call that group you can walk to the boarding area but stay far enough back that no one will mistake you for waiting in line. Once they call your number, then you can go get in line. If you’re not sure if you’re back far enough, look at the distance from you to the line. Is there enough room for three people to pass comfortably in front of you? If not, then move back. If you can’t hear the gate agent or if for some reason you must stand then stay as far away from the boarding lane as you possibly can while still able to hear.

Your second question is a trickier, but I can tell you what I do in cases like this. Generally if I think someone is standing in line but it’s not totally clear I will ask them if they’re in line. If they say yes but they don’t move when the line moves I’ll just ask them if they’re in Group 3 (or whatever). The only two answers are yes or no; if it’s yes then hopefully this will spur them to move along. If it’s no, then I’ll just say, “Excuse me,” and go around them. It can feel awkward, but seriously–they are the awkward ones for blocking the way!

Readers, how do you handle it when people block the way for boarding?


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  1. People blocking the boarding gate is one of my biggest pet peeve. I try to sit close to the gate so I can remain seated as long as possible. I had this one incident when my seat was right next to where people lined up. Right when they called my group, I got up and stood in line. There was a guy that was standing in the periphery and got behind me and said that I cut the line. I replied “there’s no line until they call our boarding group. Once they called it, I got up and stood in line and I just happen to be quicker than you”. Was I wrong in this instance?

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