Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever been late for a flight?

Have you ever almost missed a flight?

If you’ve been in a situation like this, then you know how stressful it can be.

Have you ever asked somebody if you could get ahead of them in line?

We’re going to talk you through this situation, and give you a good approach to ask if you can get ahead in line to make your flight.

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We have a listener question today about this interesting and nerve wracking topic!

Dear Lindsay, Michelle, and Jessica,

My name is Lukas and I come from Germany. I have been listening to your podcast for almost 2 years. All Ears English was so very crucial for my improvement in English. It’s so easy and fun to listen to you guys, and I just love the podcast.

Recently I was in the UK, and on my way back I almost missed my flight because I was too late. When I arrived the check-In line, it was ridiculously long. I had to ask the people if they would let me in front of them. The problem was I just didn’t know what to say to the people in front of me, because I was worried that I would come across as rude.

What would you have said in this situation?

Thanks in advance and greetings from Australia where I will do my work and travel.

Working Through The Tension

This is a situation that many of us can identify with.

Being late, particularly for a flight you are trying to catch, can make you very nervous and anxious.

Knowing what to say to try to get to the front of the line in this situation is so important.

Airports are really tense places at times and people are either in a great mood before a trip,or are exhausted and just want to get through the line.

Some people may be nervous about the time spent in line, even if they aren’t late for their flight.

So if you are the person approaching others asking to get ahead in line, you want to be sure that you know the right things to say.

You also want to be sure that you are nice in your approach, as that’s how you get people to do what you are hoping for.

Most people will just say “go ahead” if you explain the situation and you’re nice.

So what can you say to get people to do what you want here?

Knowing How To Start The Conversation

When you find yourself in a situation like this, you want to know how to say the right thing.

There are a few tactics that can help you to get their attention and hopefully ask for a favor to help you in your predicament.

Here are some great approaches to get people to respond favorably to your request to get ahead in line.

  1. Start the conversation and try to catch their attention: The way that you open is going to determine how far you get. You need to get their attention but in a positive way.
  • Excuse me, would you mind if I went in front of you? 
  • I’m so sorry to ask you this, but would it be okay if I pass you in line?
  • Hi, I hate to ask , but could I please cut you in line?
  • I normally don’t do this but can I please move past you in line?

2. Explain the reason: There has to be a “why” as to the reason you are asking for them to do something for you. This is the reason that you are asking a stranger for a favor in the first place.

  • My flight leaves in 25 minutes and I got stuck in traffic.
  • I’m trying to make my _____(time) flight and I’m incredibly late.

3. Thank the person if they do in fact let you through: Be kind, cordial, and courteous in your thank you. Be sincere so that this person understands that you truly appreciate what you did.

  • Thank you so much!
  • I really appreciate it, thank you!

The important thing is to show with your voice and body language that you are so sorry to ask this.

You want them to know that it’s urgent and important–and that you appreciate their kindness if they grant you this.

Keep It Simple

You do want to follow this approach when asking to get ahead in line.

You do want to be sincere and thankful if they let you get ahead in line.

You don’t however need to give too may details about where you are going or why you need to get ahead.

It’s not necessary to get buried in details, but rather just keep your approach simple and to the point.

People don’t really care about the story, and they certainly don’t want too many emotions mixed into this.

A simple approach is the way to go, and it will help you to get ahead in line in the most effective way.

Roleplays Really Do Help

Since this is such a specific situation, you want to see how this can work firsthand.

This roleplay should help you to see how you would use these phrases and what you would say to hopefully get ahead here.

A: “Hi, I hate to ask, but could I please cut you in line? My flight leaves in a half an hour and I couldn’t find any parking in the lot.”

B: “Oh wow, uh, sure okay go ahead.

A: “Thank you very much!”

Another sample roleplay that can help you to see how this could go might go something like this.

A: “Excuse me miss, would you mind if I went in front of you? I’m trying to make my 4 o’clock flight and I’m incredibly late.”

B: “Yes, go go!”

A: “I really appreciate it, thank you!”

B: “No problem! Good luck!”


These phrases are polite and yet they work well to show a sense of urgency.

However, there’s only so much you can do with your words, and so you need to combine the right words with a good tone and approach.

If you don’t have the right approach, then the person may not sympathize with you and therefore won’t grant you this favor.

If you want to move ahead in line, the person you are approaching needs to feel that you really need it and want it.

You have to show them this with the way that you talk to them and ask for their help.

Show that you are in a rush and worried, and ask nicely for them to respond favorably.

It’s a stressful situation that nobody wants to be in, but the right approach may help you tremendously.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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