Flight attendants reveal their top passenger pet peeves — and why you don't want to be called 'gate lice' at the airport
- "Gate lice" is the unflattering name used to describe travelers who crowd the gate before boarding.
- These overeager passengers likely want to secure overhead bin space to prevent lost luggage.
Flight attendants and seasoned travelers have an unflattering word for the overeager mob of passengers who crowd the gate before boarding — and it's not something you want to be mumbled your way at the airport.
"Gate lice" are passengers who position themselves to be first in line at the gate, likely so they can secure overhead space for their carry-on bags. But people crowding the gate before the plane and crew has even arrived is a major flight attendant pet peeve, Rich Henderson, a flight attendant of 10 years and a cocreator of the blog "Two Guys on a Plane," told Insider in March 2023.
"Just stay as out of the way as possible of the boarding area until your group is at least close to being called," Henderson said. "If our frequent fliers and top-tier people aren't even close to getting on the plane and your crew isn't even close to getting on the plane, you really have no business standing right at the gate."
"It could be that people are anxious to have more time to settle in, given that they've fallen out of their normal travel routines," Slotnick wrote in his firsthand account of how the pandemic changed flying. "Whatever the reason, sometimes going to board a flight has felt like navigating a crowded mall the day before Christmas."
After this summer's travel chaos and subsequent horror stories of lost baggage, travelers may be extra anxious to get their carry-on suitcase in the limited overhead bin space. There's nothing worse than intentionally bringing a carry-on bag with you, only to have the airline lose it after being forced to check it at the gate.
But at least "gate lice" are waiting for their turn to board — unlike passengers who cut the line before their group is even called.
If you haven't tried preemptively boarding, you've at least thought about it. Whether or not you get in trouble for boarding before your zone depends on the airline and gate attendant, Henderson said, adding that he doesn't recommend trying and finding out.
"There are some gate agents that, if you're nice and just smile, and act like everything's normal, they won't care or they won't notice that you're not in that assigned zone," he told Insider. "But there are others that if you're caught they will out you and they will shame you."
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