Best Practices – Deplaning From a Regional Jet

Being based in Charlotte, I find myself on Regional Jet’s quite frequently.  I used to have them twice weekly between Charlotte and Birmingham for many months straight.  And whether I had been upgraded to first class, had not been upgraded to first class, or was on a regional jet that didn’t have first class, I discovered one best practice that should have been amusingly apparent to me.  I, in fact, used it yesterday on my regional jet flight from San Antonio to Charlotte.

You see, on Regional Jets, as many of you know, your carry-on baggage, that would normally fit on a bigger aircraft, does not fit in the overhead bins nor underneath the seat in front of you.  So you have to gate valet your bags.  That is, the airline gives you a gate valet tag, you leave your bag at the jetway, and it is returned to you at the jetway at your destination.  When you arrive at your destination, once the plane has been hooked up to the jetway, it still takes at best 5 minutes and at worst 15 minutes for the bags to begin showing up in the jetway.  During this time, most passengers who have deplaned are waiting in a long line on one side of the jetway, or even in a gnarly two line formation of the jetway.  This makes it difficult to exit the jetway, and not to mention kind of irritating to stand shoulder to shoulder with others in a narrow enclosed space while waiting on the baggage handlers to bring the gate valet bags to you.  And if you are at the end of the line it is hard to see when your bag has made it up.  It is with this in mind I have figured out my best practice.

When we arrive at the destination in a regional jet, I always get up and instead of leaving the plane, walk down the aisle and plop myself in seat 3A if the plane has first class, or if the plane doesn’t have first class any window seat on the left side.  Then, while the hoi polloi are lining up like sheeple in the uncomfortable jetway, I look out the window and wait until I see all the bags being sent up, or often times I can identify my bag and see the precise time it is hoisted up into the jetway.  Once I see my bag has made it to the jetway, I immediatley deplane and snag my bag while the others are waiting in line.  I have now been doing this for dozens of flights, and it is made my travel experience that much more stress free.  The funny part is, I have heard numerous comments from passengers when I exit the plane and immediately grab my bag which has just been placed in the jetway.  Usually, the comments are “wow, you sure are lucky”, or “how about that for great timing!”  What they don’t realize is that this was not luck, but rather skill.  The great philosopher Darrel Waltrip once said luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.  I was prepared to watch my bag arrive, and the opportunity arose to pluck it in a timely manner.

Does anyone else use this Regional Jet best practice?  Any other RJ best practices to share?