Why do passengers on the right-side of the plane often seem to disembark before those on the left side?

9 replies


Member since 04 Nov 2010

Total posts 155

Why do passengers on the right-side of the plane often seem to disembark before those on the left side? I notice this mostly on international flights, I am on the left side and looking over it seems the 'line' on the right often moves faster - even though the door to get off the plane is on the left! I can't figure out why this should be, anybody got any ideas?


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 02 Jul 2011

Total posts 835

I would normally say left goes quicker, being closer to the exit...

On some double aerobridge aircraft they may let the right side walk thru the front (premium areas) to exit at the front area - so it might appear quicker, but only because they are filling the front cabin


Qantas P1

Member since 18 Jan 2012

Total posts 40

My suggestion is that the right hand line can move forward through the galley, immediately on arriving at the gate, giving the perception that it is moving. Often on the left, the CSM will be in the way or discussing with ground staff about various issues.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 16 Jul 2013

Total posts 1

I don't know why it does, but i made a comment to a Hostess on a flight that the right seemed to be going quicker than the left. She said to me that in 20 years of flying she had observed that the right hand side nearly always moves faster than the left. Perhaps its to do with our road rules of giving way to the right, so when you get to the end of the left aisle, you give way to those coming from the right. Either way, I now try to book a seat on the right hand side whenever I can. 


Member since 04 Nov 2010

Total posts 155

Interesting thought Matthew. It has me baffled but yes I am now booking all my flights for the right side. You think that the left side, being closer to the door, would always move faster, or that the laws of average would make it 50/50, but it always seems that after the first few passengers get out of the left lane things clog up.

Maybe as htc says the right side passengers can queue up around the corner and in the galley area, that would certainly give them a head start. Maybe also we tend to give away to people, the line alternates one from the left and one from the right, so the right side looks faster at the start becuase a half-dozen of them are already in the galley area. But it's very strange and makes no sense after that!


Member since 21 Apr 2012

Total posts 2,058

The right side does (strangely) exit first. But I find that you can still "beat the crowd" if you have a mental layout of the airport you're arriving in to help you leg it to immigration and not be held up in the queue.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 20 Nov 2012

Total posts 40

Interesting coincidence, as I was chatting to my friend, a frequent flyer the other day.

We came to the conclusion it is because;

1) we are conditioned to give way to the right (as in driving in Aust).

2) The people on the right hand side gets to build up a bit of speed (as they turn left and speed straight), so if someone on the left side hesitates and gives way, then it give the right hand side a bit of a flow - until they give way back to the people on the left, and then it alternates.

Well, thats my analysis.




Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 06 Sep 2012

Total posts 8

I think it is because there are less people using the right hand side isle. 

Infrequent flyers in the middle rows seem to move to the left isle as logically(?) they will disembark quicker but in reality it means that  more than half of the seats in each row use the left isle leaving the right one less congested.

Travelling on QF A330's too often in Y I have noticed that if the flight has spare seats it is often seat "F" eg 30f, 31f, 32f etc. this further reduces the number disembarking from the right isle.

My thoughts,






Member since 25 Jun 2012

Total posts 123

I think in addition to the above, some people will cross over from the right hand side into the left hand aisle as they know they will be getting out on the left side.

Also, middle seats taht would 'ideally' go down the right hand aisle may too exit from the left hand aisle. 


BA Gold

Member since 01 Apr 2012

Total posts 75

Hehe I bet when people think about it they notice this phenomena mainly on a 747?

The answer why the right side moves quicker during disembarkation to the left is due to...wait for it....the Upper Deck.  

When you think about it you always disembark from doors 1 or 2, often both.  So lets say a scenario where we have a full 747 arriving in HKG and disembarking through door one.  Door will open.  Crew will hold back pax until First Class pax are off.  Then people start filing down either side of the aircraft.  For those on the left however, they will be slowed down by an extra 20+ pax coming down the stairs from the upper deck and feeding into the left hand aisle.  When people are coming down with (too much) hand luggage etc this can slow down the left diembarkation quite a lot.  The right hand side doesn't have to give way to anyone.  They just carry on down.

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