3 tips for getting into your airplane seat quickly

a seat in a planeBoarding airplanes is an exercise in frustration and annoyance. People are slow, don’t pay attention, and take waaaaaaay too long to get into their seat once they get to their row. 

Don’t be slow! With a little planning getting into your airplane seat quickly and getting out of the way of other passengers is completely doable. After all, the faster you’re seated the sooner you get to catch up on the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance! Everyone wins.

  1. Do you think you’ll need to take things out of your suitcase or backpack before putting it into the overhead bin? Before boarding get everything ready that you’ll need to take out. You don’t have to have it in your hands necessarily, but have it easily accessible so you don’t hold up boarding in your quest to find your earbuds.
  2. Make sure you have a plan for your beverage. It’s not always easy to board with a cup of coffee or other beverage, but sometimes Mama needs her caffeine! When I’ve got a cup in hand once I get to my row I’ll immediately flip down the tray table for my seat (or ideally the seat next to mine, if it’s open). Once I set my coffee down I can quickly throw my suitcase in the overhead bin and my travel purse under the seat in front of me, grab my coffee, and get seated. I see so many people fumbling this, looking around for help. Have a plan!
  3. This one may be controversial. If there’s not a spot for your suitcase in an overhead bin near your seat, take a minute to communicate with the person behind you. If you just have to go a couple of rows back, TELL THEM. Otherwise they may assume you’re sitting in the back of the plane and follow you back there. They’re not doing it to be rude, they’re just not really paying attention and are likely really focused on getting to their own seat. If you take a sec to say, Hi there, I have to put my bag in that bin right there, do you mind waiting for me? I bet they’ll wait. It’s easier than you having to swim upstream, and if it truly is just a couple of spots back then it will actually save time. However if it looks like you have to go way back then drop off your personal item in your seat before heading to the back of the plane.

Readers, what tactics do you use for getting into your airplane seat quickly?


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  1. Because I always travel Southwest and have mobility problems, I check a bag that I could otherwise take on the plane with me. I take the Magellan’s Four Wheel Get Away Under-Seat Bag on the plane. And that’s all I take, I carefully plan how it’s packed so that what I need is on top when it’s on it’s back. I use a Hands-Free Beverage Holder on the handle of my bag to take on the plane when I board. I have a cane that I have fitted with velcro holders so that I can attach a full-sized bubble umbrella as I usually travel to areas where heavy rain can be expected. Unless I sit in the front row, I don’t have to worry about having to put a bag up and have the use of my cane for stability.

  2. Not checking bags is the main reason boarding is so much slower today than it used to be. I remember air travel in the 60s and 70s. Boarding and deplaning were much faster than they are today since all baggage was checked. Boarding with a cop of coffee? Since you mention planning, try planning to drink it first. This is ridiculous and on a par with those idiots who carry a bottle of water everywhere with them.

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