Once the plane lands, your journey isn’t quite over yet.
There’s still the time it takes for everyone to collect their bags from the overhead bins and disembark the plane, which can often feel like time stands still, especially if you have a tight connecting flight you need to make.
Then there is the small matter of actually going through the process of leaving the airport too.
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How Long it Takes to Get Off a Plane
Assuming that there are no unexpected issues, the time it takes to get off a plane will depend on where you are seated.
Typically, passengers disembark from the front of the plane to the back, so the closer to the front of the plane you are, the more quickly you will be able to get off the plane.
On average, it takes 15-20 minutes for all passengers to get off a plane once it has landed.
Why it Takes So Long to Get Off a Plane
It takes so long to get off the plane because there is a process that needs to be followed.
- Once the plane’s wheels hit the runway, the pilot needs to pull up to the gate.
- The engine needs to be turned off.
- Airport crew on the ground bring out the jet bridge and align it with the door of the aircraft.
- Once in place, the ground crew will either signal to the cabin crew that the aircraft can be safely opened, or they will open it themselves.
This is all assuming that everything goes smoothly.
Sometimes there can be an issue with the mechanics of the jetway, aligning the aircraft door with the jet bridge, or heavy traffic with several planes landing at the same time.
How to Get Off a Plane More Quickly
According to a study by Northwestern University, instead of leaving row by row, if all passengers in the aisle seats left first, followed by those in the middle seats, and then those sitting by the window, deboarding times could be reduced by more than 40%.
Unfortunately, airlines do not follow this process.
Additionally, Boeing found that if a second door is used for passengers to disembark, deboarding times could again be reduced by about 40 percent for a 200-seat plane.
Unfortunately, many airlines do not open a second door for passengers to disembark.
So how can you get off a plane faster, then?
Simply, if you want to get off a plane faster, sit closer to the front of the plane.
If you have a connection you need to make, inform a flight attendant and they will let you leave the plane first.
How Long it Takes to Get Off a Plane and Leave the Airport
How long it takes to get off and plane and then leave the airport has a lot of variables to consider, including:
- If you need to collect a bag
- If you require a visa
- If there are separate lanes for citizens and non-citizens
- If you have to clear items for customs
- If there are several luggage carousels
- The size of the airport
Often, if you need to do every one of the above, it can take you over an hour once you have left the plane to finally leave the airport.
How Long it Takes to Board a Plane
Most flights begin boarding 30-50 minutes before the scheduled departure time, and boarding ends 15 minutes before departure.
But the size of the plane and the number of passengers on the flight can also determine how long it takes to board a plane, along with the checks required at the gate, depending on if you’re flying domestically or internationally.
Generally, it will take no longer than 20-30 minutes to board a small, domestic flight, while it can take up to 45 minutes to board a larger, international flight.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).