• Croatian Aviation

Why are air bridges almost always on the left side of an aircraft?

Air bridges exist in order to make the embarkation or disembarkation of passengers from the aircraft faster and more comfortable for the passengers themselves, but also in order to separate the passengers from all the processes that actually take place around the aircraft.

Airbridge on E8 position in Zagreb Airport

The first air bridges in Croatia were installed at Dubrovnik Airport, and the first aircraft used them in May 2015. Of course, with the opening of the new passenger terminal in Zagreb, for most passengers, air bridges have become a normal thing when traveling by plane, especially in larger airports around the Europe and world.

Airbridges in Dubrovnik Airport

We can remember traveling from Dubrovnik in the wind and rain or during the summer on high temperatures when you first had to take a bus and then climb the stairs to the entrance of the plane. Today it is much more comfortable, when you walk to the plane in summer and winter with an air-conditioned air bridge. The same thing applies to Zagreb. Other airports in Croatia (Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, Brač and Osijek) do not have air bridges and will probably not have them in the near future, so this infrastructural detail will remain related only to Zagreb and Dubrovnik. In Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, Brač and Osijek, you mostly walk to the terminal building and vice versa.

But for those who travel frequently, we believe they have wondered one thing, why is the air bridge always on the left side of the aircraft?

There are several reasons, but safety is number one. Namely, on the right side of the aircraft there is a cargo space door in which cargo and passenger luggage are loaded, so the air bridge on that side would potentially interfere with vehicles there, and if by accident one of the vehicles collides with the air bridge (at worst at the time of boarding, it could have fatal consequences for passengers) or the displacement could damage some of the sensors along the nose of the aircraft making the aircraft no longer able to depart. On the right side, loading is done by catering too, into the passenger part of the cabin, mostly with lifter vehicles.



Fueling can also be done from the right side, but on wide-body aircraft this is mostly done on both sides, to speed up the process itself.


Also, the captain is located in the cockpit mainly on the left side, which allows him to easily park the aircraft after landing and position it at the right point with the bridge.


The process of connecting an air bridge is actually very simple. The aircraft will be guided to the right position by the ramp agent or traffic lights on the terminal building, which is also plotted on the ground, and will then turn off the engines. The ramp agent will go around the aircraft and give a signal to the person operating the bridge that he can approach the aircraft itself. Before that, the bridge will be raised to the height of the aircraft. When the bridge leans slightly on the aircraft itself (lower part) and when the covered part overhangs the aircraft door, the door will open and a sensor will be placed under it, which actually constantly levels the bridge to the height of the aircraft. When boarding passengers and cargo the plane will slightly go down, as well as going up during the deboarding. In order to keep everything on the right place, the sensor will keep balance between air bridge and aircraft at all times. Remember this procedure the next time you arrive at your destination, the captain turns off the seatbelt sign but you wait for the door to open and disembark, this is exactly the reason because this procedure is actually going on at the moment.

Due to the characteristics of some aircraft types, air bridges are mostly connected to the second doors on the left (L2), and some airlines have completely banned connections to L1, especially on the B787-9 Dreamliner because the sensors are located too close to the door and there is a risk of damage.

However, boarding or disembarking passengers from an aircraft is certainly more comfortable via air bridges, and it is now, we believe, clear why this happens mainly from the one side of the aircraft.

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