Ground and Tower Etiquette


Hello all! With the rising number of violations and complaints being issued, I felt the community could use a etiquette guide for ground and tower frequencies that might help you steer clear of a violation on your next flight. Similar to the way @RTG113 has talked about it in his topic on Approach Etiquette.
These are just the basics that I could think of and is definitely just the start. Any edits or additions you may have are greatly appreciated :)

Tower Etiquette

  • Enter and exit the runway expeditiously even if you have not been asked to. During busy times, controllers may find that they have to constantly issue “please expedite” commands to aircraft even if they are not necessarily needed. Coming to a near complete stop while entering or exiting the runway can be extremely time consuming and put lots of pressure on the controller to fit in other arrivals and departures in a quick manner.
  • Stop before the hold short line. This is more of a reminder rather than etiquette. When getting ready to depart, it is absolutely imperative that you stop before the hold short line (this includes the nose of the plane.) Not only is this punishable by violation, it also throws off the controller and any pilot that may be inbound. Usually, these kinds of situations are cause for a go-around.
  • After exiting the runway, you should continue a slow taxi past the hold short line and request permission to taxi to your parking space. You should always be sure there is space for the aircraft behind you to exit the runway. On the flip side, exiting the runway and taxiing to parking without permission is unacceptable and is punishable by violation. Always make sure you have a clearance.
  • Switch to no frequency once you have been issued the “frequency change approved” command. This isn’t necessarily the most important thing to do after your have departed seeing as controllers have the option to remove flight progress strips, but it is definitely helpful at busy times.
  • Go with what the controller is requesting you do. I know it can be very hard to determine whether a controller has made a mistake with your pattern entry or clearance, however it is crucial to understand the the controller could always give you a pattern entry for a runway that you didn’t request. They know what will be best to make sure all have an expeditious service while departing and arriving. It is best to just follow the instructions given and if needed contact the controller later to understand more about why you might have been given different instructions.
  • Even though the “request departure in sequence” command is available, it should still be used sparingly. At most, I would only use this if you are third in line. It can be overwhelming for the controller to keep track of 10+ departure requests all at once and can make the general flow of traffic much less, well, flowie. Instead, wait until you are top 3 and then request your departure.

Ground Etiquette

  • Follow and maintain separation with the aircraft ahead of you. Even though IF doesn’t require you to follow an airports real life taxi procedures, it makes a controllers and pilots life much easier if you just follow the aircraft ahead of you and keep runway taxiways one way. This helps to prevent awkward 180 situations that are extremely time consuming. With this being said, showing courtesy and respect to other pilots by not racing to the runway should be kept in mind as well.
  • Pushback in a way that can allow for the person ahead of you to have enough room to push as well if possible. I know this isn’t a requirement and definitely isn’t possible everywhere, but it definitely is a good rule of thumb. Sometimes controllers are unsure about issuing pushback clearances due to the fact that there may be a conflict before or behind. Working together to make space for the person in front of is a great way to show courtesy and help your controller out. Also understand that if you have been told to hold position, but you feel that you still have enough room, there is no reason to request again. Most of the time this is on purpose to allow the person in front or behind to start their taxi so they aren’t stuck waiting for your engines to start up.
  • Follow and stay on the taxi lines. This one is pretty self explanatory however, even though it is not punishable by violation, it makes the expert server have a cleaner and more appropriate appearance.
  • Maintain a reasonable speed. Although excessive speed can result in a system generated violation, no plane that I have ever been on in RL has taxied to the runway at 32kn ;). Make sure to keep your speed appropriate for the part of the airport that your on and adjust it to follow the aircraft ahead of you if needed.
  • Contact tower WHEN READY. Just because you have been issued a clearance to taxi and to change over to tower, this does not mean you should change immediately. You should be on grounds frequency all the way to the runway and until you are 100% ready to go. This can cause a huge problem for the controller for they may still need to issue progressive taxi instructions if needed. Additionally, no frequency change request is needed on cue you have been given a taxi clearance. Just taxi and change when appropriate.


I hope you have found these ideas both helpful and reasonable. IF is always trying to keep the expert server a comfortable and realistic place for all, and us as cooperative and respectful pilots play a crucial part in maintaining those standards. Again, this is most definitely just the start and any edits you may have are welcome below. Thank you for reading!


Thanks to @AviationFlyer and @JetSuperior5192 for some great additions!


I agree with these things but I have a few things to add:

  • Specifically regarding the hold short lines, after landing it’s crucial to pass the hold short lines completely but it’s ALSO very helpful to keep rolling (even said in user guide!) when requesting to parking (though make sure to only tune to ground ON the taxiway and request taxi to parking in an expeditious manner, not when you’re already at the gate), this can prevent issues for planes on short final behind getting stuck on the runway and just keep traffic flowing smoother
  • it’s pretty easy for tower to forget a freq change/exit to the ground so even if you didn’t get that, you can still tune to ground when on the taxiway without permission (don’t just stay on tower while taxiing!!!)
  • don’t tune straight to tower while taxiing, only tune when you are READY (and at a time that’s courteous to the ground frequency, ex. If 20th in line and there are gates next to you and a bunch of aircraft waiting to pushback obviously don’t tune to tower yet, use common sense), don’t request departure in sequence when you are like 20th in line, only request when it’s almost your turn for takeoff, even if you are in line

I totally agree with these points, I’ll be sure to get them added here soon! Thank you :)

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You must have never flown SWA 😂

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Aside from that ;)

This was an amazing topic to also refresh the pilots on how to do things because the expert server is slowly turning into a confused and overwhelmed training server. Hope the community sees this and pays attention because it is a pain when pilots don’t listen or don’t try and help a controller out when busy.

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Great reminder and thank you for this.

I think this can be an addition too. Even though is a bit late, it can still trigger the people around

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Great suggestion and topic :) I’ll make sure to get that added on there. Thank you!

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Thank you for making this. Whenever I control a busy airport it in stressful and overwhelming when there are 15-20 aircraft either asking to depart for for clearance to land all at the same time.

This is great! I hope everyone reads it and take away from it for the next time they are at an ATC controlled airport!

Great work!

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Thank you!

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Thank you! I sure hope so ;)

This post was absolutely necessary. It’s about time someone made this!

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One of the most annoying things ever is having unnecessary aircraft in your flight progress strips during busy times. You only want aircraft in there that you need. Manually removing flight progress strips can be really time consuming (yes, it only takes a couple seconds but in those couple seconds you can give so many essential commands).

A way to fix this will be to have people removed from the frequency when they respond to “frequency change approved, good day”. This will reduce the work load on controllers during peak traffic.

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Absolutely, it always seems to be the smallest thighs that are the most annoying :)

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Thank you! I agree it was definitely needed.

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