Pay to be first off the plane: the latest airline fee?

By John Walton, July 10 2012
Pay to be first off the plane: the latest airline fee?

Priority boarding for business class passengers and frequent flyers is still rolling out among Australia's airlines, but how about being first to get off the plane?

Flight search site airfarewatchdog surveyed passengers, nearly one in five of whom would be happy to pony up for "priority disembarkation". (No, we're not going to call it "deplaning".)

Business travellers and frequent flyers already have their own tricks for making a speedy exit from their flight and the airport.

Cunning plans range from picking a seat close to the front doors -- or back doors on airlines that use rear steps -- to the controversial tactic of stashing your carry-on at the front of the plane before making your way to a seat further back.

And new planes mean new tricks: if you're stuck at the very back of economy class downstairs on an Airbus A380, you can often walk up the stairs to the upper deck and exit after the fewer, faster business class passengers.

Similarly, Virgin Australia's relatively new ATR turboprop planes have the door at the back, not the front.

If you're in the expensive seats on some flights, the crew stand in the way of people from the back of the plane to allow first and business class passengers to leave first, which is only fair enough if you've stumped up the extra cash or points.

Naturally, a speedy exit makes more of a difference on shorter flights and when you've only taken hand luggage.

Business travellers know all too well the fidgeting frustration of speeding off the plane and through the terminal, only to be foxed by slow baggage handling or ridiculously long queues for the customs and immigration formalities.

Of course, it's not entirely clear how priority disembarkation would be enforced. Many airlines reserve the front rows of each cabin for their most frequent flyers, and one answer could be to charge for the seats in the first few rows.

But savvy travellers with tight schedules know that an aisle seat a few rows back can mean just as fast an exit off the plane as a window seat in row 1.

How do you speed up your exit from the plane? Or do you just relax in your window seat with your phone, tablet or ereader until the scrum has passed?

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 172

Would never work.....especially in Economy Class.  The amount of times I see people get up out of their seats before the aircraft has even stopped Taxiing is astounding.

09 Nov 2011

Total posts 88

Oh Please!! - Essendon, Parafield and Bankstown - 4 to10 seater aircraft. Next thing, there will be an exit at every row! If people are that desperate to get off a flight, then pay the price for Business class or get into the 1st 5 rows

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