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Why Do Airliners Board On The Left?  
User currently offlineJAM747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 550 posts, RR: 1
Posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 11999 times:

I cannot remember seeing a commercial airliner being boarded from the right. I have seen many pictures or traveled many times and all the boardings were done at the left of the aircraft. Is there a particular reason for this? Maybe it has to do with logistics involved in loading cargo and baggage on the right, or airport design?

60 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAirScoot From United States of America, joined May 2005, 688 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 11974 times:

Just a guess.. but could it have anything to do with galley placement?

User currently offlineA319XFW From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11963 times:

Because all the service trucks are then on he right..... (as the cargo bay doors are there)

User currently offlineKiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8568 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11955 times:
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I guess it is a combination of logistics and tradition .

Logistically of course it is easier if the loading of freight is not in the way of the loading of pax - so it makes sense to do one from the left and one from the right - but why the left for pax .....

....Don't forget a lot of the industry started with flying boats and a lot of nautical traditions were carried on ( you just have to look at the uniforms for most flight crew - not to mention the fact that the man or woman in charge is called 'captain' !)

Back when ships used to have a @#$ing great steering oar ie steerboard ie 'starboard' on the right hand side it was sensible for ships to dock with the left side towards the port for loading and unloading ( another old name for 'port' was 'larboard') If they docked the wrong way around not only would the 'starboard' get in the way - but it was vulnerable to damage. I have no idea when rudders replaced steering boards but the terminology stuck - and so did the habit .



Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 4, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11941 times:

All Servicing is done on the Right side.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineToTheStars From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 264 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11920 times:

We had one gate at the JFK, TWA international terminal that boarded widebodies on the right side. Strange to walk onto a 1011 or a 747 from the R1 door.,


TWA-Airline To the Stars
User currently offlineAntonovman From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 720 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11864 times:

because if you borded from the right the aircraft would have to reverse on to the gate  Big grin

User currently offlineBBJII From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 850 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11769 times:

The above are good answers  Smile

But most likely because the door thats open is on the left  Silly



Remember: The Bird Hit You, You Didn't Hit The Bird.....
User currently offlineMiamiair From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11749 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 4):
All Servicing is done on the Right side.

Not necessarily true. The aft lav panel on the 727 is on the L/H side below the #1 engine.


User currently offline767-332ER From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 2030 posts, RR: 10
Reply 9, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 11595 times:

There have been several times when I have boarded from the rear...MD-80's, DC-9's...727's...Those were the days and the funnest way to board,


Twinjets...if one fails, work the other one twice as hard!!!
User currently offlineDtwclipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 11571 times:

Quoting 767-332ER (Reply 9):
There have been several times when I have boarded from the rear...MD-80's, DC-9's...727's...Those were the days and the funnest way to board,

Yeah, I remember that too, but I always felt like a suppository going up the rear end!


User currently offlinePlaneFreaknATL From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 11553 times:

If I'm not mistaken - Concourse B at Denver's old Stapleton airport used to have one or two gates that boarded from the right. It was United's concourse and they used to park DC-10's at these gates.

User currently offlineDrerx7 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5192 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11475 times:

Anybody have any pics of right side boarding--I've seen a couple in the past, they've been pics of widebodies and Tridents. Sidenote--was it SFO that use to board the DC8s with two jetways-1st L door and one to the last L door?


Third Coast born, means I'm Texas raised
User currently offlineTockeyhockey From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 950 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11450 times:

isn't it because the captain sits in the left hand seat and he is responsible for the ground movements? it's easier for him to see the jetways.

User currently offlineToTheStars From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 264 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11415 times:

http://www.airliners.net/open.file/166033/L/

This photo shows the TWA JFK terminal at night. In the middle of the photo there is a 747 parked between the "tubes" that has a jetway pulled up to the right side for boarding. Also the first jetway on the right tube swung to the left and was used for boarding on the right side of the aircraft. I love those lighted tails, do any US airlines still do that?

[Edited 2005-11-04 17:56:53]


TWA-Airline To the Stars
User currently offlineBHMNONREV From Australia, joined Aug 2003, 1374 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11391 times:

Quoting ToTheStars (Reply 5):
We had one gate at the JFK, TWA international terminal that boarded widebodies on the right side. Strange to walk onto a 1011 or a 747 from the R1 door.,

Are you referring to the one in T-6 (old National terminal)?? I passed thru that jetway several times on L1011's from JFK-STL. The aircraft was parked so close to the terminal it looked as if there was only 10 feet of clearance between the nose of the aircraft and the windows of the terminal. Very short jetway walk.

I always thought the set-up was rather strange...


User currently offlineCarduelis From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2001, 1586 posts, RR: 10
Reply 16, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11327 times:

Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 3):
Back when ships used to have a @#$ing great steering oar ie steerboard ie 'starboard' on the right hand side it was sensible for ships to dock with the left side towards the port for loading and unloading ( another old name for 'port' was 'larboard') If they docked the wrong way around not only would the 'starboard' get in the way - but it was vulnerable to damage. I have no idea when rudders replaced steering boards but the terminology stuck - and so did the habit .

The above is the best definition so far, and the most likely! The subject has been discussed here before, so if you're interested, try a search, and include the 'archives'!

Have you ever noticed how John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and all their cowboy cohorts, actually mount a horse from the left side, too!



Per Ardua ad Astra! ........ Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense!
User currently offlineSlider From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6818 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11290 times:

Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 3):
....Don't forget a lot of the industry started with flying boats and a lot of nautical traditions were carried on

That's exactly the reason- Bill Boeing in fact just arbitrarily put the main boarding stairs on that side because typically boats docked at a pier would board via the port or left side. The first air mail planes were open cockpit biplanes, hence no specific side to board from per se, but once fuselages became enclosed, the door was most easily accessible from the rear closest to the ground.

The Boeing B-80, I believe, was the first enclosed fuselage passenger aircraft (correct me if I'm wrong here, please) and the baording was done via the rear left. Fokker continued this with the next generation of tail-dragger passenger airplanes.

Just became standard convention for building commerical passenger aircraft after that and was solidified and codified when airport engineering came to prominence and jetways, support equipment, etc, needed designing.

With the rare exceptions above, that became the norm. L1.

Someone please correct me factually if I misspoke here, but I believe that to be the case.


User currently offlineBridogger6 From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 716 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11256 times:

Well I think it's mainly because the galley is placed on the right, don't want all the passengers walking through the galley; seems to be the most obvious answer to me.

User currently offlineJcavinato From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 520 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11251 times:

This question is like why the U.S. and a large part of the world drives on the right and the U.K. and some other nations drive on the left.

My take is that back in 1903-1910 the pilots were mostly right handed (as now). So they sat on the left, because of working the throttles, etc. Then, when the planes got bigger, the early passenger doors were on the left as well so they could be in sight of the pilot, he could oversee the activity, and vice versa. As time goes on it becomes the etched in stone way of building the entire industry architecture without questioning any of it.

Pilots are on the left, yet railroad locomotive engineers are mostly on the right. There is speculation that the engineer being on the right was because the firemen (who had to shovel tons of coal into the boiler box were right handed and it made their position in the locomotive most logical for both.

Now if airplanes were coal powered, that might make the flight deck different. Huh?


User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 18
Reply 20, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11229 times:

It is tradition.
That tradition began when passenger aircraft were first created from old military twins.

Pilots would start the right engine first (they could see the left one, but had to gauge the working of the right by ear), and often keep it running on the ground (no APUs and stuff back then).

That made the right side of the aircraft a dangerous place to walk around, so passengers were boarded from the left.

As dedicated aircraft became available this was continued.
Then came APUs and stuff and engine instruments and it was no longer needed, but all procedures and airport layouts were made to board from the left only and so it continues to this day.

There was actually talk of having the A380 (and I believe the 747 as well when that was planned) board from 2 jetways, one on either side of the aircraft, simulataneously.
This was never implemented yet.



I wish I were flying
User currently offlineFLY2LIM From United States of America, joined May 2004, 1184 posts, RR: 10
Reply 21, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11209 times:

Quoting Jcavinato (Reply 19):
This question is like why the U.S. and a large part of the world drives on the right and the U.K. and some other nations drive on the left.

Well, you state that the US and a "large part of the world" drives on the left and you make it sound like a few drive on the right. Hmmmmm, China, Australia, England (UK), Japan, Taiwan, South Africa, India and a few countries I'm forgetting. That's over half of the world's population that drives on the "wrong" side, as Americans would like to believe.
FLY2LIM



Faucett. La primera linea aerea del Peru.
User currently offlineJcavinato From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 520 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11181 times:

FLY2LIM, I stated it that way in terms of the number of automobiles and trucks in the world that are configured and operating for right versus left driving. There are 800 milllion cars and 120 million trucks in the world right now. Western Europe, North and South America were the majority this way, and I'm sure this might change with China and India middle classes rising as they are. I'm well aware of the other countries: in addition to our residence and citizenship being U.S., we have second and third homes in the U.K. and South Africa with a car at each. We conditioned our children at early ages not to say, "driving on the wrong side of the road."

User currently offlineSkyexramper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 11107 times:

Quoting Miamiair (Reply 8):
Not necessarily true. The aft lav panel on the 727 is on the L/H side below the #1 engine.

Ummm..thats because the lav panel is below the engine when the cargo bin door is on the right side....this is too speed the process up, not to mention you would have to move the beltloader away to get a lav truck in if everything was on the right side. Flights would take forever to get turned.


User currently offlineUsaafb17fan From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 11102 times:

Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 3):
....Don't forget a lot of the industry started with flying boats and a lot of nautical traditions were carried on

Of all the history books I've read on the beginning of commercial aviation in the U.S., the common thread has been the "nautical traditions" referred to by Kiwiandrew. I've seen old pics of the cabins, and it seemed like they did EVERYTHING up as if on ships - one can almost feel the seagoing sensation.

My question is this: Why so many "flying boats" to begin with? Wouldn't it have been easier to use land-based aircraft? That's the one thing I seem to have forgotten from those aforementioned history books. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


25 777STL : Also, on a lot of MD80s, R1 isn't a full size door, not as large as L1 is.
26 Post contains images Ikramerica : No, it wouldn't have been easier. If it would have been easier, they would have done it. There was little infrastructure for airplanes, and flying bo
27 Post contains images A319XFW : The reason why driving on the left side of the road is the right side , is because in the Middle Ages when there were knights on horses, most were ri
28 Jcavinato : A319XFW, thanks for this explanation. It has always bugged me. But, then why did the U.K. adopt one side and France and the rest of Europe (except Swe
29 Post contains images A319XFW : Because Napolean decided to p**s off the British because he couldn't conquer them and changed it to the right  [Edited 2005-11-04 20:53:47]
30 Zvezda : In English and Western riding styles horses are only trained to accept riders mounting from the left. In Arabic style, one can mount from either side
31 Pacific : Off-topic to planes but vehicles in China drive on the right. Hong Kong is the exception where they drive on the left.
32 Soaringadi : Wow I'm amazed..... never heard a question like that. How about why do we breathe ? Why do planes fly..... ? need I go on.....
33 Indy : I like to know why airports like DTW have double jetways at some points and don't use them. I flew DTW-AMS on an A330-300 and they didn't use both jet
34 Post contains images PHLBOS : In some instances, before the use of jetways, weren't there scenarios where the enplaning passengers would enter the usual left front door while depl
35 Newyork355 : To answer Indy's question about why an airport would not utilize double jetways if they had them...my guess would be money and labor. In order to have
36 Post contains images Kiwiandrew : yes , but then you get into the whole chicken/egg argument do we board on the left because the galley is on the right ? or has the galley been put on
37 FlyBoy84 : At the rear of the planes, the service trucks use the left hand side, though. I guess people are mainly referring to service at the front of the plane
38 Post contains images Kiwiandrew : ADVANCE WARNING : I am going way off topic - so don't read if you can't handle it sorry - I believe China and Taiwan both changed to the right in 194
39 Keta : I read in a magazine about this, and that's the answer. It seems like this tradition comes back from mounting horses. As Zvezda says, horses were mou
40 Web : Most likely so first class can be seated first and then served before taxiing out without being hampered by cattle class pax boarding. On all my 757
41 PanAm92 : I remember boarding on the right side of Eastern L1011's at JFK.
42 C133 : Don't think this has been mentioned, but all of American Airlines' DC-3s and Convair 240s had passenger doors on the right. That is simply how they wa
43 Post contains images Electech6299 : Bingo! Aircraft developed around existing customs, and if I'm not mistaken, pax were carried before the galleys were there! Well, NewYork355 hit on o
44 Bar032 : Tradition only really. Many narrow body a/c are unable to board from the right side at all, I think of DC-9, MD-80... But some larger a/c are able and
45 Post contains images FaroeFlyer : I think it's a perfectly good question and I have gotten a lot wiser by this thread. Thank you JAM747 for it. And Soaringadi, remember: there are no
46 Post contains images Fuffla : The QF743 that went to the AVV airshow boarded from the right Although I hardly think that that counts.
47 Indy : If I remember correctly there is still one door coming in from the terminal. The walkway splits off to two different points. You'd still have one poi
48 DJ738 : Our standard operating procedures dictate boarding on the left hand side, as our 737-800s are re-fuelled on the right hand side.
49 BA747 : Hey fly to CCS, Venezuela and you will board in all different parts of the plane. On Aeropostal DC-9 sometimes they use the galley door on the left, a
50 Post contains images Electech6299 : OK, that makes sense...just dealing with gate check luggage then would be doubled. (And you'd have to find 2 FAs in a good enough mood to stand at th
51 Himmat01 : Boarding from the right hand side is quite common during the rains at IC terminal at BOM. This is because the a/c are parked facing north. The rains a
52 57AZ : Actually, many locomotives were built with the Driver's controls on the left. This was particularly common in Commonwealth nations where British buil
53 USF100FAN : HERE'S ONE ...Why don't they board from the rear.........
54 Post contains images Antonovman : Ireland are soon changing to driving on the right but they will bring it in gradually trucks and busses first then cars later on
55 Mir : Some airports have the capacity to use a gate that is designed for a 747 or other large plane for two smaller planes when it's not occupied. They hav
56 Post contains images HAWK21M : How much to the Left.And where would the Cart be parked. Depending on the Bay allotted.The Worst being Bay #12. regds MEL
57 NZ107 : As NZ only use the front port door for passenger use the rear port door was used for catering. Not anymore though as they killed the catering service.
58 KiwiTEAL : maybe all the architects are left-handed - lol
59 LHR777 : Ooohhh, my first ever post! How does that affect boarding though? For example, our SOP's permit boarding on the left side whilst the refuellers are st
60 DC8FriendShip : Far left, under #1 engine. the cart is placed on the left side. on the MD-80, bothlavs are on the left side.
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