Why Do I Have To Get Off The Plane?

I’ve taken more than a thousand flights and there is always one thing which baffles me. That is why do I have to get off the plane when it is on a stop over? There is a lack of consistency as to how passengers are treated by airlines or locations around the world.

Singapore Airlines plane - why do I have to get off the plane?

Singapore Airlines plane

My time as a frequent flyer has given rise to lots of different experiences. The most bizarre one I found was the Singapore Airlines flight between Manchester and Singapore. On this flight on both routes there is a stopover in Germany (I think it is Munich). Outbound on flights to Singapore we all have to get off the plane in Germany, wait at the gate then re-board.


However on the flight back from Singapore to Manchester we don’t HAVE to get off the plane in Munich then re-board. You can get off and re-board if you want to at your discretion.




On more than one occasion I’ve queried this with the flight crew. From the ones I’ve discussed this with, they are just as unsure of the reasons why as I am.


Reasons why I have to get off the plane

Now there are various reasons thrown around as to why you have to get off the plane. These include:-

  • clean the plane
  • change flight crew
  • refuel
  • turnaround time
  • regulations of the airport/country that the stopover airport is located
  • airline policy


They all sound fairly sensible to me. The only problem is that in my thousands of flights I’ve seen inconsistencies which virtually everyone of these (just read my Singapore Airlines example above).


I have seen someone quote tax reasons as a possible explanation. As a passenger we just don’t know the ins and outs of the rules and are purely at the control of the airline probably for their benefit.


So you might think why am I so bothered about why I have to get off the plane. Well let me give you some reasons why.


Firstly, I might not want to. You can say there is a great opportunity to wander around the airport and stretch my legs. Yes that is true but I could wander up and down the plane. It is nice to have a choice.

The new Business Class seat on KLM

I have to get off the plane so you can ruffle my cushion? Oh please, let me sleep.

Secondly it can often be at an ungodly hour. Sometimes no matter how comfortable the plane seat is I can struggle to get a good sleep. Also if the total journey is around 7-8 hours, breaking that up in the middle with a 1-2 hour stopover just ruins your sleeping pattern.


I would much rather stay in my seat and try to snooze for 40 minutes than go into the terminal and force myself to stay awake so I don’t miss boarding.


Thirdly there is the dreaded airport security. Don’t get me wrong I fully support the concept of airport security and know it is needed.


However I’ve been through security already to get on this plane. If I stay on the plane during the stopover how can my security risk change? What am I going to do?


If you make me get off the plane then you are also forcing me to take my carry on luggage with me to the terminal. Now I have responsibility to lug this around with me for an hour or two.


Then airport security can really peeve me off due their lack of consistency. Not only is this lack of consistency between countries and airports but lack of consistency between security staff at the same airport!

Admiring the bank incline on the Daytona raceway

Getting off the plane during stopovers is driving me round the bend!


The rod that broke the camels back for me was a stopover flight about 10 years ago. The plane stopped somewhere in India (I think it was either Mumbai or Bangalore). First off the airport was pig ugly, a really awful place.


Then when I went through airport security one of the security staff confiscated the alkaline batteries from my camera! For some reason it is okay to have these batteries with me on the flight into India but not on the flight out.




There is also the hassle of queuing, removing your belts, shoes, computers, electronic devices and so on. This is a pain when I’ve already been through a security check at my starting airport. It’s not as if I’m even changing planes. Let me stay on the plane then I can’t pick up anything dangerous from the airport.


On a rare occasion you don’t have to go through security again, such as my earlier experience at Munich airport.


I must admit that now when I look at flight options I try to keep an eye out for any stops en route. If there are any then it is a major disincentive for me. I want to get on a plane and stay on it until the plane reaches the destination.


Please don’t make me get off the plane to get back on again. Let me rest, I’m too tired.



  1. says

    I hate getting off the plane too! My dad is an airline pilot and he gave me the ‘cleaning and crew changeover’ bit, which is fine, but I agree – it should be consistent, whatever they decide to do.

    • says

      Hi Rika, that is interesting to hear that your father was a pilot. I often hear that changing of crew and cleaning reason. Just baffles me how sometimes you can sit on a plane and watch it happen.

  2. says

    Yep – you’ve said it all! I am not as well travelled as you, but I’ve been on some flights where people were allowed to stay on or herded off and I was confused.
    And man, do I hate those inconsistencies. We recently experienced a first. We flew from Panama City to Boston so had gone through security, and yet to get on our flight, they had another security screening and that included no liquids…so essentially anyone purchasing items from the secure side had to get rid of liquids…I think it was only for US-bound flights, but I just don’t get it. If anything purchased on that side of the airport is bad, then it should just not be offered! Harumph!

    • says

      Hi Emily, I’ve heard of and seen double security checks before and they are a real pain. That issue with not being allowed liquids bought inside the airport, post first security line is just ridiculous. I bet the liquids were over priced in the airport as well. It is little wonder us travellers become very annoyed at times.

    • says

      Yes Maria, that really gets me. There are a couple of airports I use frequently throughout the year and I just don’t quite know how fussy they’ll be. Leave your shoes on/off, take off your plastic watch. And so on.

  3. says

    Yes, it nice to have a choice, and not-nice not to. There is a ninety-minute stopover in Nassau (Bahamas) on the flights to and from London to Cayman Islands, and we MUST stay on board, when we would much rather get off and walk around in the airport. How do the airlines decide these things?

    • says

      Hi Gordon, that sounds nuts. 90 minutes just sat there without a choice. I can imagine that without any video screen entertainment all the young children will become very restless. It could a painful and long wait just sat there without a choice.

      Admittedly I’d often choose to sit on a plane since I don’t want to go through the hassle of security again. However if I knew we had a 90 minute stop over I’d like the choice.

  4. says

    You’ve taken a thousand flights? That’s insane! I can just imagine how many times you were asked to get off the plane. That must have been so frustrating if you are in rush!

    • says

      Hi Agness. I’m not sure what you mean by the rush comment but absolutely, I’ve been asked to get off and re-board a plane many times. It seems to be happening more often than before.

  5. says

    I agree with you, it’s pretty annoying and such a pain Guy. That happened to me last year. I was flying to Manchester from Berlin via Frnkfurt. For some god-forsaken reason, we had to do security control again. I mean. What? In Europe. What the hell for?

    • says

      That sounds like a real pain too Victoria. I think I can identify the issue for you there though is that your plane went from a domestic to an international flight. That happened to me on a flight on Qantas from Cairns to Singapore. The plane stopped at Darwin en route.

  6. says

    Another reason why I avoid flights with connections and layovers. If I can fly non-stop I’ll always choose to!

    • says

      Very good point Phil and I agree. Unfortunately I slip up because the flight itineraries our company travel agent send to us don’t always specify stop overs when we are choosing which routing to take. They only tend to show where we have to change planes.

  7. says

    As a crew member, I can tell you there are plenty of reasons:

    It may be the end of the day and the crew has to go into crew rest and that means not remaining onboard with passengers.

    The plane needs cleaning and remaining onboard and walking up and down the aisle impedes the process. It may also be the only time the flight crew has a meal break and they can’t take that with passengers onboard. By contract, most flight attendants cannot be required to remain with passengers on the ground for an extended time.

    On international flights, there may be a required security sweep of the airplane. This means going through everything on the plane, including lifting up seats, and going through overheads. Cannot be done with passengers onboard (and is some locations, flight crew must step off the plane while it’s being done).

    The ground time is long enough that flight attendants can get off and get something to eat. Since they are often not catered with food for their own needs, this is a chance to get something. Again, they can’t off if passengers are onboard.

    There are plenty of other, more unusual ones, but these are some of the most common.

    • says

      Hi Mary Jo, many thanks for sharing your valuable experience in this area.

      I must admit from my years of travelling I’ve seen many of these reasons cited and also as not being a reason to leave. I’ve sat there whilst security checks are performed on the plane and I had to confirm the luggage in the overhead cabin was mine. I’ve also had the cleaners vacuuming underneath my feet whilst remaining on the plane. I’ve even seen crew changes.

      I think the reasons you highlight are all valid ones for asking passengers off the plane. What annoys me is that the rules are not (in my > dozen years experience) applied consistently. When I ask crew members if we have to get off the plane and why, many times they don’t know the reason why.

      Thanks for a great comment. It provides a good insight into the running of an airline and the many regulations they face at airports.

  8. says

    I totally agree with you, we had to do the same thing in Havana not so long ago. I would usually not mind that much because as you say you can stretch the legs, check out some shops etc. But you have to drag your s@#t off the plane and, worst yet, go through security again which makes no sense to me. Which reminds me of the old days; you could go to a transit lounge during stopovers or between connecting flights and not have to worry about picking up luggage or going through security. Now I dread ever having to go through another airport when going somewhere – I’ll pay extra NOT to have a stopover or NOT to have connecting flights. Especially through the US is a nightmare…especially, as you say, when all the rules change from one place to another…

    • says

      Very true Frank. All these re-security checks when you’ve done nothing and not been anywhere is a real travel headache. Your idea of no connections is certainly a good choice for many where available.

    • says

      It’s very sad Wesley. Frustrates me immensely when I think I’m all prepared for their checks then they say things like “Oh you don’t need to take your shoes off” etc.

  9. says

    Wow, a thousand flights is a lot for me. I don’t mind flying but if I can avoid I will. I do prefer trains and car journeys and I don’t mind the slow travelling style.

    • says

      A thousand is I’m sure an extremely conservative estimate. Since 2000 flying return trips almost every month soon adds up. Some one way trips can include 3 flights, then one or two interim flights during the trip then 3 flights home.

      I do love train journeys, they are just not great for “quick” long distance business travel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *