The Left-Side Boarding Tradition: Exploring the Origins and Reasons

Have you ever wondered why commercial airplanes consistently board and deplane passengers from the left-hand side? In this article, we delve into the historical origins and practical considerations behind this longstanding tradition.

Navigating Safety and Logistics

The practice of left-side boarding is rooted in a combination of safety concerns and logistical considerations. With many aircraft operations, such as fueling and baggage handling, occurring on the right-hand side of the aircraft, boarding from the left minimizes the risk of passenger interference with these activities. Additionally, airport infrastructure, including jet bridges, is designed to facilitate left-side boarding, streamlining the boarding process and reducing confusion.

Nautical Influences and Etymology

Interestingly, the tradition of left-side boarding predates the era of aviation and can be traced back to nautical origins. The terms “port” and “starboard,” used to denote the left and right sides of a boat respectively, have influenced the terminology and practices of modern aircraft boarding. The preference for boarding from the left side of vessels stems from historical maritime practices, where the left side, or “larboard,” was designated for loading passengers and cargo.

Continuation of Tradition

While advancements in technology have enabled flexibility in boarding procedures for boats, the aviation industry has retained the tradition of left-side boarding for practical and safety reasons. By adhering to this longstanding practice, airlines ensure consistency in boarding procedures and mitigate potential risks associated with passenger interaction with aircraft operations.


In summary, the tradition of left-side boarding on commercial airplanes is deeply rooted in historical maritime practices, safety considerations, and logistical efficiency. By maintaining this time-honored tradition, airlines uphold standards of safety and consistency in the boarding process, ensuring a smooth and secure experience for passengers and crew alike.

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