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The Street
The Street
Rob Lenihan

Travelers often make this one mistake while standing in airport lines

Pushpak Kedia probably said it best.

"There should be a special place in hell for line cutters at airports," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter, earlier this year. "Wake up on time goddammit."

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Anu Menon was working through similar hostile vibes just a few years earlier.

"In some parallel universe, chronic airport line cutters get the death penalty right?!" she wrote

Ah, what we would be without the dreaded airport line -- aside from happier, healthier and free of handcuffs? 

This singularly atrocious experience can often feel like a dress rehearsal for a production of Dante's Inferno as you abandon all hope upon entering the airport.

"the airport is a lawless place," magic city wrote on Sept. 7. "WHY are ppl cutting lines and WHY are ppl eating sushi at 6am."

"People really be cutting lines at the airport saying 'I have a flight to catch'" wrote Sidli. "No shit dumbass I came here for a movie night -_- #EarlyMorningDrama"

People can resort to all sorts of drama at all hours of the day in their shameless bid to get ahead of everybody else. 

A U.K. traveler caused an online kerfuffle last year after pretending to be injured so he could skip more than two hours’ worth of lines at an airport in Turkey.

'The kindness of strangers'

He came up with the scheme because he was worried that he would miss his flight after seeing…yep, huge lines.

Flight attendants pushed him around the airport in a wheelchair before taking him to his seat on the plane. 

After posting a video on TikTok, the traveler received both supportive comments, like "Definitely using this trick," and scorn, such as "“My son actually needs a wheelchair and it’s not something anybody should be pretending about.”

So, just who are these people cutting the airport lines?

"There is a certain type of person who purposefully does not give themselves enough time to get to an airport before a flight, knowing that they can simply take advantage of the kindness of strangers to cut in line when they arrive," etiquette expert Nick Leighton told USA Today

"The technical etiquette term for them is 'bad people,' and they are tearing the fabric of society apart," he said.

Okay, but what's going on here? Well, among other things, airlines are turning to bigger planes that fit more passengers to address airport congestion, rising costs and a pilot shortage.

Flights operated by the 11 largest U.S. airlines had an average of more than 153 seats on domestic flights last year, up from an average of nearly 141 seats in 2017, CNBC reported, citing aviation data firm Cirium.

And some major airlines have halted service to some small airports due to a shortage of pilots at regional airlines.

'Let it go'

Faye Malarkey Black, president and CEO of the Regional Airline Association said that “reducing regional flights in lieu of mainline flights “could cut departure options in half for travelers, meaning long layovers and higher trip time and cost burdens, but it also could mean one city previously served can’t be served any longer.”

Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert who runs the Protocol School of Texas, told USA Today that if someone cuts in line in front of you, it's best to let it go.

"Some people may be making an innocent mistake by not seeing where the line starts and you can certainly say, 'Excuse me, the line starts over there' in a friendly, non-confrontational voice," she said.

And what if you turn out to be the bad person who is tearing the fabric of society apart by cutting the line?

"While it is never OK to cut in line, it is perfectly acceptable to ask," said Jodi RR Smith, an etiquette consultant. "We know from psych studies that people are more likely to accommodate a request when a reason is given."

There’s some good news. CLEAR, operates biometric travel document verification systems, now allows you to reserve a free spot in the airport security line.

You can bypass customs and immigration lines by applying for a trusted traveler program like Global Entry. And if you're stuck in an airline's customer service line, you can fire up the airline's app or contact it through social media for faster service.

Author Christopher Elliott said that if you're in a long line and it looks like you might miss your flight, ask for help. With any luck, a kind agent will send you to the front of the line, allowing you to catch your plane.

Now, enjoy your flight. 

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