I will be going on holiday soon and I was wondering what happens when you leave the plane. Is it a sense of following the crowd? Do bus services take you to the terminal from the plane? What is the process? Also on a side note is it true that some planes have more than one entrance to them so when boarding the plane such as EasyJet I have seen two doors in which people go in from. Is there a reason for that? Is it just due to seating and stuff?

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    It would help to know where specifically you're going and where you're coming from, so we can give you specific directions based on whether you'll need to go through immigration, whether you're transiting, and the airport layout. Sep 3, 2017 at 8:34
  • Remember that you can always ask someone if you get lost (provided you're lost in a country where many people speak a language you speak).
    – user253751
    Sep 3, 2017 at 23:20
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    The best thing to do is to not follow the crowd, but to be among the first in the bus if there is one, then follow the "Baggage claim" signs and arrive there before the crowd. You don't get your luggage any faster, but you minimize the risk of having your luggage stolen (airport personnel might still do that, but this is out of your control). Yes, not all people on this planet are honest.
    – Damon
    Sep 4, 2017 at 9:43
  • In regard with following the crowd it's general a good approach but be cautious if you do need to get a connection fly because you can get the wrong door. But rest easy, Even if you make a mistake if there any staff here they ill gladly point you the right direction
    – jean
    Sep 4, 2017 at 10:48
  • Remember that airports mostly have fixed paths for efficiency reasons. Staff do not want to security-patrol multiple accesses (so one exit), want people to flow fast, and don't want to hire staff just to provide information to travelers on where is the exit. All international airports have at least double-language directions, where the second is English. Welcome to whatever destination Sep 4, 2017 at 10:49

4 Answers 4


In general, there are signs and indeed a clear flow of people you can follow. The process is the following:

  1. Get into the terminal building (through a jet bridge connecting the plane to the building, walking on the tarmac or taking a bus). EasyJet planes all have two doors and they use both whenever they can (sometimes it's not possible with a jet-bridge although I have also seen airports where you would get out through a set of mobile stairs and then back inside to reach the middle of the jet bridge). The goal is to load and unload as fast as possible, keeping the plane in the air as much as possible is crucial for them, a plane parked at the airport just costs them money.

  2. Look for the baggage reclaim area. It doesn't matter whether you have hold luggage or not, the way to the exit is almost always through the baggage reclaim area so look for signs mentioning “luggage“ or “baggage”.

    Depending on the airport and terminal, you might cross the path of departing passengers, have to walk through some shops or one-way airlocks. Most people coming out of your plane are going there (certainly on EasyJet), you can follow them. Depending on the route and destination, you might also be expected to go through border control before reaching the baggage reclaim so the signs might also say something like “passport control” or mention the name of the country you are entering.

  3. Once you are in the baggage reclaim area, you would be looking for the exit. In Europe, that's also the point at which you have to go through customs so you should see some red or green “nothing to declare” channel and, in some places, a blue channel for EU arrivals. You walk through the appropriate channel and you will usually find a door or lock separating you from the waiting public.

    From then on, it varies a lot and it's difficult to give general rules. It's also usually the most confusing part of the process. Leaving the plane and navigating your way to the exit to the “open” part of the airport is typically quite easy.

All that assumes you are not transiting through a third airport on your way to your final destination (but EasyJet only sells point-to-point tickets).

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    Point 2 of course may vary: a) if you only have carry-on luggage (unlikely for a holiday and unlikely for a no frills airline such as EasyJet), you can of course skip the baggage claim step and head for the exit / customs drirectly. b) Special (aka. bulky) luggage (such as surf boards or skiing equipment) needs to be fetched elsewhere (a clearly indicated counter near the luggage belts). -- Also, there may still be sources for confusion after the exit - airports tend to be large. Depending on how you continue your travel by taxi, bus, train, rented car, there are still some signs to follow Sep 3, 2017 at 12:25
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    @HagenvonEitzen I was just editing to clarify that: Point emphatically does not vary, if you only have carry-on, you're not skipping anything, just walking through or next to it, baggage reclaim is on the way to the exit in every airport I have ever been to. That's why I wanted to stress it as other answers failed to mention that crucial fact. The route after the baggage claim is indeed where it becomes more and more confusing and varies a lot.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 3, 2017 at 12:27
  • @HagenvonEitzen: Do you have any airports in mind where it is possible to "skip the baggage reclaim" and reach landside without walking through the room with the baggage carousels in it? I can't think of any. Sep 3, 2017 at 12:28
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    @HenningMakholm In Frankfurt (FRA) Terminal 1, you first pass immigration, then go out into the public area, then re-enter a restricted area to get your baggage, and then pass customs. You can of course immediately leave once you are in the public area. I found a foto of the re-entry to the restricted area, sign in front of the escalator says "Access for passengers only", but nobody actually enforces this. Sep 3, 2017 at 14:17
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    @Calchas Thanks for this example, I already edited my answer to add “almost” in light of the other examples. I feel the advice is still sound, worse case you're missing a short-cut but will eventually find the exit that way.
    – Relaxed
    Sep 4, 2017 at 16:56

That depends on several things.

In most airports, most planes will drive to a gate after landing, such that when you leave the plane you'll be in the airport, and unless it's a very (you probably have to go to the extreme) small airport there will be signs telling you what way to go when you're arriving. In all the airports I've been in the signs have been in both english and the local language.

If the airport you arrive at is busy (there can be a lot of reasons, they don't really matter here), the plane might park at a "remote" (to the airport building) spot, then you'll leave the plane, go down a set of stairs and into a bus (there will usually be several as they typically don't have the capacity for all the people on the plane) that will drive you to a gate at the airport, at which point you're in the same situation as above.

As the door(s) from the plane are only wide enough for one person, the passengers from each arriving plane will quickly be spread out, so there won't be a big crowd to follow, but if it makes you feel more comfortable you can probably focus on a couple of the people who leaves the plane just before (or after you, the jet bridge leading from the plane into the building should give you plenty of time. But be aware that they might be transiting (i.e. they have to catch another plane, and won't be going the same place as you are) and don't make the feel stalked.

Yes, some planes have more doors used for boarding (and deboarding), that is mostly a question about speed, as mentioned above the doors aren't very wide, so using multiple allows the airline to get people in/out faster. It doesn't really affect the (de)boarding experience.

Edit: Reading what I wrote, I got to think that there's way more small airports than large, and at those the common case might not be that the plane drives to a gate with a jet bridge, so some of my "most"'s shouldn't be taken too literal. Also I forgot to mention that the jet bridges might not fit on smaller planes, so if you're on such a plane and there's room, it might go close enough to the airport that there won't be busses, and you'll have to walk from the plane to the gate, but we're talking very short distances here.

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    "if the airport you arrive at is busy": or if the plane is small. Some planes are too small for a jet bridge. These planes can even be used on routes between major cities; about a week ago I flew on one between Athens and Istanbul. At small airports, though, when your plane can't use a jet bridge, there's typically no bus; the passengers just walk directly from the plane to the terminal building or vice versa.
    – phoog
    Sep 3, 2017 at 10:42
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    Apart from "english and local language" there are also standardizes symbols (though the meaning of these may not be easily recognizable for a first-time flyer) Sep 3, 2017 at 12:16
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    Just to add that if you do have to walk between the terminal building and the plane, there is very little chance of "getting lost" outside the building or entering the building by the wrong door. There will be plenty of staff and security guards around to stop you getting into an unsafe area by accident, or "wandering off" for other reasons (no need to spell them out here!)
    – alephzero
    Sep 3, 2017 at 16:06
  • @phoog It depends what you call "a small airport." My local international airport in the UK is the 11th busiest in the UK for passengers (around 5m passengers per year) and the 2nd busiest (after Heathrow) for freight, but doesn't have any air bridges at all.
    – alephzero
    Sep 3, 2017 at 16:15
  • @alephzero I suppose the main consideration is physical distance from the plane to the terminal, not volume of traffic.
    – phoog
    Sep 3, 2017 at 16:36

Following the crowd is always a good thing. Although the crowd might not be always going where you are, the statistics are in your favour. There are also plenty of signs, so unless you're departing from/arriving in a really crappy airport, you won't get lost.

As for multiple doors, it is usually on larger airplanes. It helps with the boarding: First/Business class passengers at the front door, economy passengers at the door more or less in the middle.

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    I'm not sure where your cutoff is for "larger airplanes", but OP references EasyJet, whose fleet is basically Airbus A319 and A320 with one door at the front and one at the back; the doors more or less in the middle are the emergency over-wing exits. Also EasyJet doesn't have first/business class. Whether they board using stairs and both doors or airbridge and just the forward door varies according to their agreement with each airport. Sep 3, 2017 at 7:41
  • With EasyJet, before boarding you are told that if your seat is in rows 'whatever the numbers' you enter through the front, and the others through the back. (And if you go the wrong entrance, they do not seem to worry but you might be stuck between more people on the way to your seat.) On the way out you just use the nearest usable one.
    – Willeke
    Sep 3, 2017 at 8:33
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    @Willeke Where "nearest usable" exit may less be determined by proximity than by the direction the other people try to move (those who stand in the aisle with their carr-on luggage long before the seat-belt sign is turned off) Sep 3, 2017 at 12:14

Usually you are not allowed to "get lost" until you are inside the building, so you would be stopped before wandering of. Inside the building you should be fine unless you pass the "no re-entry beyond this point" which usually is clearly marked. Somewhere between those points should be the baggage claim. And since they want a nice flow in the airport it is usually hard to miss.

  • You are technically not allowed, for security reasons, to get lost until you are outside of the airport facility. If you get lost at taking the city train, that's your own business. I recall a question where the OP asked if it was a good idea to hide in the bathroom and wait for the visa validity to commence before appearing to border check (travel.stackexchange.com/questions/94124/…) Sep 4, 2017 at 12:08
  • You are correct, what i meant was that if you were to walk on the tarmac in the wrong direction, someone will probably yell/signal at you that you can't walk there for security reasons. So you will at least end up in the facility, if you get lost there security won't notice in the same sense. Sep 4, 2017 at 12:14

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