Why It Takes So Long to Get Off the Plane After It Lands

Even when you hear the captain welcome you as you land at your destination at the end of a flight, your time aboard the airplane is likely not over. Not even close, in some cases.

The time between a plane’s wheels landing and passengers actually walking off the aircraft is definitely at times one of the most frustrating parts of flying, especially for travelers with tight connections. It’s also one of the most misunderstood.

The procedure was even the subject of a “Funny or Die” sketch. Check it out here (but please advise there is a bit of adult language):

Courtesy of Funny or Die Youtube Channel

Flight attendants are absolutely not coaxing the doors open with a good cop/bad cop routine. There’s an orchestra of people working on both sides of the cabin door to get everybody off the plane and into the terminal.

Once the plane pulls up to the gate (which can take a while), the captain powers down the engine. He then turns off the plane’s anti-collision light, a red blinking light outside the aircraft, which alerts grounds crew that it’s safe to approach.

In the cabin, passengers are likely already standing, stretching, & reaching up and over each other to get luggage out of bins overhead. Anyone who has stood and waited to get out of their row and into the aisle, head tilted sideways with their face against the air vent, knows this is the point where it already feels like they should be off the aircraft.

The way we get off airplanes makes absolutely no sense - Vox
Courtesy of Vox

In the interim, on the ground, airport crew bring out the jet bridge & align it just right with the aircraft door. Once the jet bridge is in place, the ground crew will either open the aircraft door or signal to cabin crew that it’s safe to open the door and empty the plane.

But there’s a lot that can happen and delay the process for everyone. There could be issues with the mechanics of the jetway, or it could take a few times to line up properly with the aircraft door.

58 Deboarding Plane Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Courtesy istock photos

Multiple aircraft could arrive at the airport at the same time and the ground crew cannot accommodate them all at the same time. Or, sometimes, simple human error, such as the gate agent not realizing that the plane has landed, can add time to the process. Regardless, nobody is negotiating with the aircraft door.

I hope you enjoyed this enlightening information!

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