If you’re like most people you’ve probably found yourself at a busy airport talking with a gate agent while travelling at some point. To someone outside of the aviation industry, gate agents seem to do a little bit of everything when it comes to getting passengers ready to board the plane before a flight.
Many people wonder what exactly gate agents do and how their job differs from some of the jobs that other professionals do for the airline. In fact, a common question people have is: What do gate agents do?
Gate agents are responsible for preparing passengers for a flight by helping them get checked in and ready to board the aircraft.
Let’s take a look at some of the job responsibilities that go into preparing passengers to board a plane for a flight.
Main Responsibilities of a Gate Agent
In order to help passengers get ready for their flight, gate agents have to take care of numerous items and assist both the flight crew and passengers. Here is a list of items they might have to help with:
- Customer Service: Gate agents are the go-to professional for any question a passenger might have as they prepare for their flight. This includes everything from which gate they should be at to information on flights and seats. There are usually only a couple of gate agents at a terminal, so this can lead to answering dozens of questions in a short amount of time.
- Checking in Passengers: Gate agents also are tasked with checking your boarding pass to get you checked in for your flight as you board the plane. This also includes everyone is accounted for and on the proper flight.
- Gate Checking Bags: It’s not uncommon for passengers on a flight to have more carry-ons that what the airplane can hold. In those situations, the airline will ask passengers to check one of their carry on bags just before boarding a flight.
- Opening the Door: Once the time is ready, gate agents are responsible for opening the door from the terminal to the ramp to board the airplane.
- Providing wheelchairs: In the case of passengers needing special assistance to board the plane (like a wheelchair) gate agents are the ones that will assist by providing the wheelchair and in some cases pushing that passenger to help them board the aircraft.
- Helping unaccompanied minors: Many flights will have passengers that happen to be minors travelling alone. In these situations, gate agents will make sure the minor has everything they need. This includes making sure they are on the right flight, find their seat, and feel safe navigating the situation alone.
- Upgrading Seats: In some cases, gate agents will assist in upgrading a passenger. This is sometimes in the form of selling an upgrade and in other cases giving a free upgrade based on seating needs of the aircraft.
One of the items listed above is customer service. It’s worth noting that this is one of the most important aspects of the job. It takes a lot of time to handle all of the questions and concerns passengers might have. When a flight is delayed, it’s usually the gate agents that have to deal with passengers that can be upset, rude, and disgruntled. For this reason, being a gate agent can be a very stressful job.
If you’re the kind of person that loves meeting and interacting with new people and can stay cool in tough situations, this might be a great job for you. However, if you are easily flustered when someone is upset and taking it out on you, this might be the wrong career choice.
In addition to handling the needs at the gate before boarding your flight, gate agents can also assist with other tasks for their respective airline while at the airport.
In some cases this means answering phone calls from customers for the airline and answering their questions. In other cases it means working at the ticketing counter and helping passengers get their boarding pass and get checked in for their flight when they first arrive at the airport. In these cases, they will also then have to help passengers check luggage and handle other needs that are usually happened at that stage.
Jack of all Trades
As you can see, being a gate agent requires knowledge of a number of different aspects of the airline you works for. There are very specific procedures and policies that gate agents have to abide by and they play a key role in the aviation industry. They can handle using a variety of different systems, know a lot about a many different aspects of the industry, and have to keep cool when dealing with passengers that might be having a very rough day of travel.
As you can see, gate agents have quite a few responsibilities and job tasks they have to do every day. Airports can be very busy and crowded places and often times these gate agents find themselves dealing with hundreds of passengers on a daily basis.
The role of a gate agent is a very important one at any airport as airlines depend on them to make sure passengers are ready for their flight to take off without a delay.