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Why Do People Stand Up As Soon As the Plane Lands?

why do people stand up when the plane lands

It’s an issue that people like to think is a problem but really isn’t. It’s tried and tested clickbait for travellers. An engagement carrot dangled for the Facebook algorithm. Time and again you’ll see some perplexed traveller ask the question, “Why do people stand up immediately when the plane lands?” usually followed up by something like, “it’s not like they’re getting off the plane faster.”

This is one of my pet peeves. Not that people stand up, but that people keep asking the question over and over again as if there could be no logical explanation for people who behave in such a way. It’s one of those questions that’s almost guaranteed to get a reaction out of people though. People have opinions. People have feelings.

Before we look at the reasons why someone might stand up right away we should really look at why it bothers us in the first place.

Why the Bother?

We can all agree that the flying experience is not what it once was. Inch by inch our personal space has eroded until we’re sitting shoulder to shoulder with the person next to us, our knees in someone else’s lower back. It’s not comfortable. We also feel nickel and dimed with every added fee and charge. Extra for food. Extra for a checked bag. Extra for a cabin bag. Extra to pick a seat. Even extra to check in at the airport or print a boarding pass if you’re flying certain discount airlines.

So no wonder that by the time we actually land at our destination our nerves can be a bit frayed. We just want out. So those people who stand up in the aisle right away? Maybe we feel like they’re getting something extra that we’re not and we’re annoyed.

There are some perfectly logical reasons why a person may want to stand up immediately after the seatbelt sign goes out. Some of them are even helpful to their fellow passengers.

We Don’t Think It’s Magic

The most common answer you’ll hear why asked, “why do people stand in the aisle?”  is that they just want to get out of the cramped seat as soon as possible. They want to stretch their legs. Twist out the kinks in their back. Take the pressure off their tailbone. It’s not that they think it makes deplaning any faster. Although… maybe it does.

Personally, if I’m on the aisle, I will stand up in the aisle as soon as I can so that I can get my backpack down from the overhead and put away my headphones, books, and anything else I may have had out during the flight. That way I’m not holding up the line later or walking through the cabin with an armload of stuff. It can also give my seatmates a bit more space to put together their own carryon bags. And yes, it’s nice to just stand up and stretch a bit.

Be a Helper

With great aisle power comes great aisle responsibility. Don’t stand up before the seatbelt sign is turned off. Don’t throw yourself into the aisle, trying to jump the line. Don’t be that guy. 

Be very mindful of the space around you. Don’t back your butt up into someone’s head or swing your backpack with abandon. Be mindful of your elbows. Know that you can handle the weight of your roller bag you’re taking down from the overhead bin and that you’re not going to bonk someone on the head. Maybe even offer to grab someone else’s bag for them since you’re already standing.

We’re all in this thing we call air travel together.


  1. Derek Gould says:

    January 27th, 2020 at 10:11 am (#)

    As someone with problem knees, I like to stand for a minute when the plane stops so that I can loosen up a little. I try to do it with courtesy, Two types that irk me though;

    (1) The people who shoot to their feet as soon as the seatbelt lights go off, and claim any available space to move forward. If you were sitting two rows behind me, you should NOT be blocking the space by my seat so that I can’t stand up.

    (2) The people who build a little luggage cocoon around themselves long before anything starts to move. If you have a personal item, a laptop bag and an oversize carry-on, I should *not* have to be smacked in the face with those items so that you can be ready to make your break as soon as the coast clears.

    Ah, airplane travel…

  2. Alouise says:

    January 30th, 2020 at 7:04 pm (#)

    As someone who’s fairly tall I always try to book the aisle seat, and when the plane lands I’ll stand up as soon as I can, not so much to get off the plane first, but to stretch my legs and back (and grab my bag from overhead if possible to make deplaning go faster). If the flight is short (two hours or less) then standing asap isn’t much of a priority, but definitely if it’s a long haul flight I’m gonna stand up. If I’m in the middle (gross) or window seats I’ll probably do the awkward half stand thing for a minute to stretch out a bit, but will likely sit back down until I can stand up and get out of the way. Definitely agree with Derek’s comments about the irking types. I actually think the whole boarding process for more flights is more of a cluster than deplaning.

  3. arvinder says:

    March 12th, 2020 at 10:54 am (#)

    I am not the same having seen the moon shine from the other side of the world.

  4. Femi says:

    August 24th, 2023 at 7:45 am (#)

    You’re right about the flying experience not being the same as before. Remember when we had more legroom? Now it’s like we’re asking, “Where did all the legroom go?” So, I understand the impulse to get up as soon as the seatbelt sign turns off. Our knees are practically on a first-name basis with the seat in front of us, and our backs are practically begging for some stretching.

    That said, I understand the frustration some people have with those who stand up immediately. It can create a bit of chaos and disorder in the aisle. But hey, to each their own. People are entitled to react however they want, just as they’re entitled to their own feelings and opinions.


  5. NickB says:

    October 7th, 2023 at 9:02 pm (#)

    This is an North American thing, in Europe EVERYONE gets up and collects their bags out of overhead and heads for the isles and guess what it’s a lot quicker to deboard a plane. You can be on the back row and be off the plane 5-10 minutes than deboarding in USA.
    There is no waiting to your row to then slowly decide to get up and collect bag, there is a very strange emotional attachment to this etiquette but it’s simply the slowest way to do it.
    Yes I know you don’t like this comment, but that’s just how it is in Europe… And it’s not insulting I’m English and you can’t get a more polite upbringing than that we just value our time getting to a land based toilet more

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