Why do passengers always board planes from the left side?

Passengers always board and disembark planes from the left hand side.
Rob Homer

Passengers always board and disembark planes from the left hand side.

Why do passengers board all large aircraft through the left side of the plane?

This has become an established convention that goes unquestioned these days but it dates back to the early days of aviation.

In times past an aircraft would taxi close to the terminal building in order to load and unload passengers.

Left side doors traditionally made it more convenient for passengers to transit between the aircraft and the terminal.
Mark Dwyer/Fairfax NZ

Left side doors traditionally made it more convenient for passengers to transit between the aircraft and the terminal.

Since by convention the pilot sits in the left-hand seat of the aircraft it's much easier for him or her to judge wing clearance if they approach the terminal on the left side of the aircraft.

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Left side doors therefore made it more convenient for passengers to transit between the aircraft and the terminal, as well as safer than having to circle around the aircraft.

An even more basic reason for left sided entry/exit dates back to the very early days of nautical travel. Before centre-mounted tillers, ships were steered by a steering oar mounted on the right side of the ship.

To allow the ship to tie up alongside a quay without the steering oar becoming jammed, the ship would berth with its left - "port" - side against the quay.

Once airbridges became common it was necessary for aircraft builders to set the convention of left side doors in concrete.

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The loading of cargo and passengers' baggage, galley loading, refuelling trucks and external air and power happens on the right side. This keeps passengers entering or exiting separated from those functions and also allows the pilot to keep the right engine running if required.

Traveller.com.au

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