Etihad Airways economy class
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Is Retrieving Baggage From the Overhead Storage Bin Considered Cutting a Line?

“S o I’m in Y on a US domestic flight, seated in row 30, but the only available overhead space was above row 26. I put my bags above 26 and take my aisle seat in row 30. When we land, I get up and there is nobody in the aisle in front of me at the time, so I walk to the row 26 overhead to get my bag, then wait to deplane standing next to row 26. Some guy turns around and tells me ‘you cut in line, that’s bad etiquette’. I say to him I’m getting my bag from this locker, I’m not going to walk back to row 30 afterwards to wait just because I sat there. And that was the end of that.”

With that etiquette question pertaining to leaving the airplane, who was being unreasonable: FlyerTalk member belfordrocks; the other passenger; or both of them?

Is Retrieving Baggage From the Overhead Storage Bin Considered Cutting a Line?

“I think that could go either way. Mostly, if my bags are ahead of me, I stay in my row, wait my turn and grab them on the way out”, opined FlyerTalk member StartinSanDiego. “If they end up BEHIND me, it’s a harder call… do I run grab them before the aisle fills, or wait until everybody has past and I can go backwards and get them? Usually, there’s small gaps of space in the aisle, and I can either work my way back, row by row, or dart back and grab my bag while people are organizing their own luggage further down. It’s only a minute or two extra, not worth aggravating others.”

The position taken by FlyerTalk member zitsky is that “I think what you did was fine. If you had all your stuff and were the first to stand up, I don’t think it’s rude.”

FlyerTalk member dreaming on a jet plane decided to be philosophical pertaining to this potential quandary: “You cannot cut in line where there is no line.”


That last line — pun intended — is the key for me. If there is no line when the Fasten Seat Belt sign is no longer illuminated after the airplane has arrived at the gate and you are able to retrieve your belongings. that is fair game, in my opinion.

If there are people already standing in the aisle, I would wait at my row until it was my turn to walk down the aisle and retrieve my belongings, as it would be rude to push through the crowd in the narrow aisle to get those belongings.

If the belongings were inside of an overhead storage bin located behind my row, a person could either wait until the aisle is clear up to the point as to where the belongings are located; or a fellow passenger could be asked to kindly pass down the belongings if the overhead storage bin is located within a reasonably close proximity to the assigned seat, as I have witnessed happen multiple times. In fact, there have been times where a fellow passenger proactively offers to retrieve the belongings.

I rarely ever experience this conundrum — primarily because the belongings I carry aboard an airplane will fit under the seat in front of me if there is no room in the overhead storage bin within the vicinity of my assigned seat; and for me, that is the solution to this issue.

Your solutions and experiences are welcomed. Please share them by posting them in the Comments section below.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I think the rule is, that if you are the first to get out of your seat all bets are off and its not “cutting” per se, so long as you aren’t blocking others from getting out of their seats. Once the inevitable line has formed before the doors have opened, then I would probably call it cutting. I think basic etiquette only requires that once that line has formed you let the people in front of you (so long as they are ready) get out of their seats before you pass them.

  2. I think it’s pretty rude if the bag is in front of you. Should just wait until you pass that aisle on the way out. By standing at row 26, he’s preventing the other fliers from that row from standing up and retrieving their own bags. Basically saying “getting my bag down is more important than you getting your bag down.” I have no trouble stopping those guys in the aisle, as I’ve done on many an occasion

    1. I am not sure about that, Mark R.

      First, the person standing at row 26 will have retrieved his or her belongings instead of first waiting until it was his or her turn to leave the row and then first hold up the line to leave the airplane to first retrieve those belongings. It is debatable as to whether that would shorten the wait to get off of the airplane because the people seated in row 26 then first have to stand and get their belongings when an opening in the line permitted them to do so. I suppose it depends on the specific individual situation and the people involved as to which is quicker.

      Second, I have also been seated in the row under the overhead storage bin where the belongings of a fellow passenger seated further back in the airplane was stored; and when that person would arrive quickly to retrieve his or her belongings before the line formed, I understood and did not think it was rude — but then again, that is just me…

  3. By that logic, someone who is in row 30 could theoretically sprint down the aisle if they had their bag under their seat, or no bag at all. That would cause complete chaos. The first row exits first, then each row follows. Of course people on Flyertalk would think they’re more important than everyone else.

    1. I have actually witnessed that scenario occur on rare occasions, Everybody Hates A Tourist — usually by a passenger who starts that sprint as the aircraft is pulling into the gate before the Fasten Seat Belt sign is deactivated.

      The good thing is that the passenger usually will park himself or herself in that space in the aisle between the premium class cabin and the economy class cabin — theoretically not causing a disruption in the process of passengers leaving the airplane.

      Of course, that is not an endorsement by me as something which is the correct or recommended thing to do…

  4. It’s rude. Just wait for the it to clear out and grab it on the way out. Its like passing someone on the interstate just to get off at a nearby exit. You aren’t anywhere faster.

    So all your carryon stuff fits under the seat must mean that you check a bag most of the time?

    1. No, DaninMCI — I pack light and virtually never check baggage.

      By the way, my favorite analogy to use in scenarios such as this is when a motorist aggressively passes another car just to get to a red light where the car which was passed catches up anyway. What a waste of gasoline…

  5. And of course, what if the following occurs:

    1) late departure.
    2) 1 & 1/2 hour layover is now 40 minutes
    3) new departure gate is all the way across the airport. and of course, you are in Atlanta or Chicago or JFK.
    4) in addition, you’ve got to pee. so there’s that.
    5) you’ve got to make the connection- no other choice because a) you’re going to a wedding and you’re a member of the wedding party (and work would not let you get time off earlier!), or b) funeral, or c) going to college; there’s a Greyhound that leaves twice a day. the college is 3 hours north of the airport. so if you miss it, and you’re a poor college student, you’re screwed.

    Been there, done that!

    So, if yes, if there is NO line…and that’s where my bag is, I’m getting up and grabbing it. And then getting off the plane asap. If it is taking you more time than I deem necessary to organize your things, then I’m going around you. I will be polite when doing so.

    I’m not rude, I just need to get on with my own life.

    For all we know the person that is “cutting the line” isn’t exhibiting bad etiquette, but maybe has to catch their connection because they have a very limited time to say goodbye to a loved one dying in a hospital bed.

    So if one has time, chill out. Enjoy the journey. People watch. Be kind. Be humane to others. Make new friends: exchange email addys with your seatmates. But if there is a necessity when time is not an option- then without causing harm or chaos, get your crap and go!

    1. I generally agree with you, icicle — and yes, I have unfortunately been in those emergency situations myself.

      All too often, people might assume that the passenger is intentionally being rude — when in fact there may be a legitimate reason for the rushed behavior.

      There are times where giving the benefit of the doubt as the first response to a situation is indeed appropriate…

  6. We are trained in the United States from a young age that to show respect for our fellow human beings and to live in a civilized society we must stand in lines and wait our turn. If we need an exception in our case then we are taught to ask an authority figure (a flight attendant on a plane) who can waive that rule or help you figure out an alternative. After a long flight everyone just wants to get off the plane. Those of us taught to sit and wait patiently for our turn may become irritated and feel disrespected when someone jumps up and runs down the aisle without an explanation. Combine exhaustion, irritations and alcohol with this situation and you may have a volatile situation on your hands. I’ve been on many flights where there have been tight connections and passengers are asked to stay in their seats for a couple of minutes to allow other passengers to exit first and people do so gladly. If your bag is four rows in front of you it is just as easy to ask it to be passed back as it is to ask someone to pass forward a bag four rows behind you. And there’s also asking those in front of you if they mind you moving forward. No one has to make this plan once the wheels hit the ground. You know from the moment you sit down where your bag is and have the length of the flight to think of and act on the most polite way to accomplish the task of grabbing it. Bucking social conventions because it’s easier and serves your needs is not an excuse for bad manners. I say look for a solution to your issue that doesn’t demonstrate a disregard for your fellow passengers feelings.

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!