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Gate Agents... Have A Question For You!  
User currently offlineFlyboy80 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 2026 posts, RR: 3
Posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 6797 times:


This is to all the gate agents out there... I have kind of asked this question before, but I haven't really received a definitive answer. So Ill try again, as I am super interested in this (more like intrigued! lol) But my question is. Why are gate agents always just typing away and staring at that screen. I can't come up with any ideas as to what you are doing!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for any info!!! (Sorry the email is real generic)

36 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineJmhLUV2fly From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 559 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6742 times:

Before I started working in the airline business, I always wondered the same thing you would see airline personnel just typing away, and I thought what in the heck are they doing....
I now know that for the most part, airline computer systems require you to go through several screens before you get the actual screen before I can help you answer any questions or be of assistance. When we open the gate, or at least this is what I do, I get all my paper work ready, fuel slips, etc get all the computer screens up and running check to see if there are any wheelchair people coming in also check to see if there are any wheel chair people flying out.....long winded answer to say, there is a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes that the average passenger is not aware of.
Depsite this, we are able in the airline business to create the magic and most of the time, enable you to have a smooth enjoyable travel experience.

User currently offlineAIR757200 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 1579 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6707 times:

Well, the reasons why I typed, personally?

#1 reason... monitor the "check-in" process (seeing how many boarding passes have been issued, who's on the standby list, etc.)..,

... attempting to clear the standby list before crunch time (usually clear passengers by the time they get to the gate--why have them wait...),

... and doing "homework".. if you see an agent just typing away, some airlines have training programs; where during off peak times at the gate and counter, I would log in and do my lessons.

Plenty more reasons...

User currently offlineRamprat74 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1638 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6701 times:

I use to be a gate agent. Most of the time. We are looking at departure management screen. With so many FF flying today. You can have up to 30 FF looking for upgrades, ID travel people, passengers without seats. All they are doing to trying to figure out how to get all these people on the plane for a OT departure. When a flight is not overbooked, its one of the best jobs at the airport.

User currently offlineSWAFA30 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6654 times:

There are many reasons a CSA could be working at their computer depending on what is going on with the flight. Let's take for example an agent is working flight 123 from BWI to BNA continuing to PHX. Flight 123 seats 137 passengers and is booked to 148. The flight is running about 20 minutes behind schedule. Here a few things the gate agent will need to monitor. Check FLIFO for the status of the inbound aircraft. Check the status of inbound transfer passengers who are flying in from other cities and need to be on flight 123. Though 123 is overbooked, inbound transfer seats must be held. If one or more of the flights carrying inbound transfers is running late, 123 might need to be held so those folks can make their flight. If the flights are running too late and there are rebooking options, those passengers will need to be rebooked on later departures. Since 123 is also running a bit behind, transfers out of BNA and PHX will also have to be closely monitored. If it looks like they might misconnect, they might also need to be rebooked or at least advised of the situation in case they would prefer not to travel. Also, since 123 is overbooked the agent must montior the number of passengers who are checking on at the ticket counter and/or self-service kisosks. If the flight is close to overselling it might be necessary to restrict all check-in to the gate podium. Alternate routings will have to be found in the flight does oversell and people wish to volunteer their seats. I could go on but I think you get the point...there is a ton of stuff that a gate agent could be typing into their computer and this is coming from a person who worked as a CSA for an airline that does not have assigned seating or F and or biz cabin upgrades to bother with.

User currently offlineBobb From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 246 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 6551 times:

I don't like any of your answers [G]

I have a computer background, and the answer is much simpler.

Airlines' computers, specifically the ones the agents used are antiquated, like early 80 technology, I am talking DOS if you know what that is.

That means that the many pieces of information are on different screens AND they are not "seamlessly" interlinked. Hence the need to open up 10 screens just to do something, perceived by you passenger, as very simple.

When you compare that to your home Wintel/MAC machines where most everything is "packaged" for easy access, your PC is truly lightyears away from what we use at the airport. Now, the computer used for dispatching, air traffic controls etc are a bit more sophisticated.

User currently offlineFLYYUL From Italy, joined Jun 2000, 5038 posts, RR: 50
Reply 6, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 6519 times:

This is the gate agents responsibility... I used to work for NW/CO, and have done this too much.

1.) arrive at the gate, associate computers with boarding pass printers and readers

2.) hand over paperwork to crew

3.) start completing required paper work

4.) restrict flight to the gate 30minutes prior, meaning ppl cant checkin at the counters beyond this cut-off

5.) release standby's, get approx luggage load

6.) boarding

7.) associate boarding counts to luggage counts.. ensure that all pax not makign the flights have their luggage offloaded (positive bag match)

8.) make sure all last minute paper work is printed and handed over to crew

9.) close door.. pull jetbridge

10.) finalize flight load and balance and all associated paperwork

11.) count tickets/electronic tickets

12.) take a break, get a coffee  Big thumbs up (a beer would be even better sometimes Big grin )


User currently offlineZASpringboks From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 6489 times:

The reason is simple where we're at. We use computer technology dating back to the mid 60's. We use the old Westinghouse terminals. To change a seat takes several key strokes. For example to re-assign a seat to an exit row seat, it would look something like this: "A*S3$@8DY" Re-Issuing a ticket looks like software has been programmed 10 times over. Other stations have newer "point and click, drag and drop" technology. They say it would cost nearly $USD 4 million to convert our 4 westinghouse terminals to PC terminals. In other words, "you will use what you have and like it." We'd be better off from a customer service stand point if we could better serve the passenger with more efficient equipment, though.

User currently offlineFlyer732 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 1395 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 6470 times:

We use PC's and only run two programs for a flight, one for FLIFO and the other is the checkin/flight program.

The checkin is very simple, all I need to do to check someone in, to say a window seat is to type c1/w and we're done. To say reassign someone from 15A to 22C I would simply do sa1/22c and to issue a new boarding pass bp1.

But to just get to that screen I have to type out a novel of logins.

User currently offlineSCRAMJET From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 99 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 6329 times:

Let's say you, Mr. Smith, come up and ask for an upgrade on flight 1234 IAH-LAX (just for instance). First, I have to display availabilty to see if there is F available. I can do this one of two ways: Check the flight load (4PF1234) or display availability: A 02FEB IAHLAX
Let's say there's a seat open in F. I have to display your record to see if you're on a full Y fare, or if you're elite: *1234-SMITH
You're not Elite, so you don't qualify for a complimentary upgrade. You're on a deeply discounted fare, so you don't qualify for the mileage-based upgrade. So I have to tell you that you'll have to pay for it. You say, "how much" [If you have to ask, you can't afford it  Smile/happy/getting dizzy ]
You paid $220.00 r/t including tax. I have to display the fares: 4FIAHLAX
Then find the base fare of your fare, divide that by 2, find the base fare of the First Class fare, divide that by 2 (divide by 2 because you only want to upgrade one way). Then recalculate the fare using, for instance, $595.83 for the one-way First Class fare and $98.02 for the one-way fare you're on, recalculate taxes, and tell you it's an additional $425.59 to which you reply, "That's ridiculous. I'll just stay where I am."

Had you asked at our ticket counter, they could have told you in a few clicks how much because their Windows-based system is only for Ticketing/Checkin.
At the gates, our Windows-based system does not have the Ticketing option so we have to do it the old-fashioned way: divide by two, carry the one, move the decimal point over...only we do it on the screen with our calculator.

The Windows-based system at the gate is for checkin, seat assignment changes, overbooked flights, volunteer system, printing vouchers for volunteers, processing list for F class Elite standbys, revenue standbys (from earlier/later same-day flight), employee standbys, etc., and all that other behind-the-scenes stuff, in addition to running the paperwork, etc. as the above agents wrote. That's all point, highlight, click, etc.

In the movie "Meet the Parents", it does not take 5 minutes of typing to see if a seat is available! It does, however, take 5 (or more) minutes to recalculate the fare without a Saturday-night stay!

User currently offlineFreshlove1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 6310 times:

We do it to look busy so we don't have to listin to stupid questions!!! The Agents at AA know what I mean!!

User currently offlineCaptaink From Grenada, joined May 2001, 5119 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6242 times:

I work the ticket counter more than I do the gate, but I prefer the gate. I like to have my flight totally organized. AS some mentioned, monitor the checkin process, work on your priority list, upgrading FF's, giving staff seats, preparing your gendecs and other flight docs, and of coruse answering passengers questions. From the time they see you at the desk, they come up with all sorts of questions, wanted to "check-in" again etc. It can be really nice though and a bit more relaxing to work the gate, except of coruse when you are pressed for time and trying to get a flight out on time...

There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineAlpha 1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6204 times:

1. I may be monitoring inbound connections to my flight.

2. I may be checking the crew routing, or my inbound aircraft.

3. I may be looking up what flight I'm to work next, and pre-planning that.

4. I may be reading some company news or updates.

5. I maybe be typing to a friend at another gate, ro even at another airport.

6. I maybe just be seeing what's the most expensive mult-stop trip I can price out online.  Big grin

User currently offlineUsdcaguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1203 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6141 times:

To be quite honest, many gate agents, while monitoring flight loads, the all-important standby list and flifo, are also looking up flight loads for themselves! As there is often a lull between flights, and the station often tries to ensure service at the gate up to one hour prior to the flight, many agents check to see which destinations might be open for the upcoming weekend. Still, this consitutes a very small part of all that "typing". Most of the time, things need to be done, such as "on-ing" passengers, closing out the flight, accommodating standby passengers, filling in the flight data mask, etc. It really is one of the better jobs at the airport, because you don't have to lift heavy bags onto the belt or think too much about fare calculations. Meanwhile, I still believe that baggage services is the best place in the airport if you like to work by yourself. You really only have to work when something goes wrong. That means, however, being the brunt of some cursing every now and then, especially as the hands of the clock roll past midnight.

User currently offlineA330_DTW From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 371 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6116 times:

I think the question has more to do with what all the typing is going when someone comes up and asks a question.

"Can I change my seat?" You have to display the seatmap, see what's available. For the oldtimers, i.e. like me, I like to use the old-fashioned long entries, not just click on a name, then the seatmap and see what's open.

"What are my chances of getting an upgrade?" You have to look at the list, see if there are any F seats available, see where they are on the list, and honestly say, "Ms. Jones, there are quite a few customers ahead of you on the processing list and we have very few First class seats left, so I would just go ahead and board the aircraft when we preboard our Elite frequent fliers."

I hate giving people a false sense of hope, have them wait in the boarding area and at the last minute say, "Sorry, Ms. Jones, First is full." Then she goes down and there's no carry-on space left!

To go the extra mile, if the customer wants an aisle seat window seat or exit row, I might check "R"eserved seats to see if there are any which are no-shows. I'll check the inbound connection list to see if any flights are going to missconnect which will free up seats. I might look at my upgrade list, upgrade the first elite on the list, thereby opening up an aisle/window or whatever, and switch the person to that seat.

All this takes a lot of keystrokes. Sometimes when trying to answer a question or find an entry, you have to look it up in DRS or HELP, and then do the transaction, adding more keystrokes!

I try to explain to the customer what I'm doing, make eye contact with them to assure them I'm still checking on what I can do for them.

Sometimes you're in the middle of something, you ask the person, "How may I help you?" They ask for what they want, meanwhile you're still finishing up documenting a record, running paperwork/crewlist/inbound connection list/checking on inbound or outbound special service customers, etc.

99.999999% of the time we are not just typing for the heck of it!

User currently offlineUALPHLCS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 5975 times:

Free Cell. It's adicting.

User currently offlineCaptaink From Grenada, joined May 2001, 5119 posts, RR: 10
Reply 16, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 5878 times:

HA HA at UALPHLCS, strangely when I am shutting down PC's at a tkt counter, Free Cell or Solitare is open.. I wonder why.. Hey do u work gates at PHL or counters? I am always through PHL, thanks to US, but i must look you up there sometime...

There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 17, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 5851 times:

Remember "Meet The Parents"? That was hillarious!

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineFlyboy80 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 2026 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 5757 times:

so you guys really have to get a lot of paper work for the crews? When you close a flight or do weight and ballance, do you coordinate to meet a ramp agent for paper work or anything? Also, with the flight plan, u just file it through a computer? Do the airlines send you to hubs to learn this. Or even at outstations is it a "on the job" learning sort of basis???
Thanks once again!

User currently offlineUALPHLCS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 5734 times:

To be honest UA has removed all the normal bundled junk that comes with Windows. Currently, UA is working with Win95 can you believe it. Which I suspect is the main reason we are constantly rebooking our machines because of freeze-ups.

What a Gate agent is doing is monitoring the load on thier flight the Departure Management List as the UG and Standby list is called on UA. We maybe looking at Company email if we are not busy. Checking out the seat map, especially if I know I'm going to have any seat deals, I want to know what I can expect to have at 20 min prior to departure.

But if we aren't busy we are just fiddling around with the computer not doing much of anything.

Mostly I work gates that my preference that's were they try to play me. Anything to avoid ticketing.

User currently offlineViflyer From US Virgin Islands, joined May 1999, 502 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 5710 times:

All I have to say is DEATH TO SABRE!!!!!!

that felt better..lol

I reject your reality and subsitute my own
User currently offlineJmhLUV2fly From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 559 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 5669 times:

I stopped reading the responces at SCRAMJET's post and I just had to say a few words. What crazyness it must be for employees of major carriers, when I read about what is involved to upgrade a pax the old fashioned way on what I trust is Continental as the post mentioned Elite status etc.
I thought how unbelievable.
Im not about to begin bashing the major carriers, as they are doing there best to compete and succeed.. but it is no wonder why many are beginning to fly the Low cost carriers. Less frills meaning you dont have to fly this many miles to get this to go there and to get that.
With the airline I work for...35 bucks your up front, in some cases if Im having a good day....you get up there for nothing all are happy. And this value goes a long way.
I think when the major carriers realize that simple is better...there then will be a war.
...Back on topic, in responce to Bobb, in PNS we do have rather up to date equipement AirTran spent god knows how much in putting in brand new Dell PC's in all its stations, I believe all but for PHF, they still have the old stuff. The Dells are nice, and allow us to operate much faster and more effectively, however an agent still has about four screen of passwords and such before getting to the flight checkin screen, this is of course only applies to us in PNS, other airlines elseware of course, have a different ballgame like SCRAMJET...god knows, I think I would call it quites with his program...
(at the gate)...wheew.

User currently offlineCaptaink From Grenada, joined May 2001, 5119 posts, RR: 10
Reply 22, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 5613 times:

What system does UA use? US uses sabre which is great I think. In fact what do all the US majors use?

There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineUALPHLCS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 5500 times:

UA uses Apollo for its reservation system but overlaid on top of the old Apollo program are windows based visual programs like FastAir for ATO operations and FastRes for Reservations. They are similar but sifferent enough that we are NOT cross trained in them. FastAir is NOT a reservations system thats why we ask people to call res when they are at the airport to build a PNR. That stuff in FastAir is a pain, But its easy in FastRes.

User currently offlineRampmike From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 41 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (12 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 5480 times:

Where I work I have to calculate fuel, pax, and cargo ect, (load manifest) and then we print out the flight plans for the captains. Oh and why they type so much is because of an outdated DOS like program called sabre, I can't wait till they come up with a better system.

25 Post contains images Rampmike : BTW im a ramp agent, small airport (RST) so things are probably different everywhere, but I work with ticket agents and have a good idea on what they
26 FlyXJT : As for the above question, CO uses Sonic/Shares and YX uses saber as well. Both airlines, including UA now have a more simple program that sits on top
27 Jettblasterp : Am I the only one that browses the web???
28 Chicago757 : I am a Gate Agent for ATA at Chicago MDW. When at the gates we are typing away and watching the amount of customers checking in, as well as the amount
29 Jjbiv : Hey Chicago, Do you work Friday? Shoot me an email if you get a chance. joe C8 CSA
30 Chi-town : Quick question, I know this all depens on the carrier and expirence but, ROUGHLY, can someone give me an average of what a CSA makes yearly?
31 AIR757200 : All I have to say is DEATH TO SABRE!!!!!! No! I love SABRE!.. just the blank screen and start typing your formats! * I usually worked the ticket count
32 COIAH99 : Chi-town... Quick answer to your question...A CSA at CO with 10 years of service will make roughly $45,000. That is just based on 40 hours per week, n
33 Post contains images Skyway1 : .....NativeSabre is such a joy!!!! Chances are we're just typing a crapload of characters just to accomplish one thing. For example, to ticket a comp
34 SCRAMJET : JmhLUV2Fly: We also have a paid upgrade system where it's $XX.XX for a flight up to 499 miles. 500-999 miles is another amount, 1000-1499 miles is ano
35 GlobeTrekker : I have a question. I am an agent for KLM, but besides KLM flights we also handle Continental and Martinair flights in Aruba. But the airport uses SITA
36 UALPHLCS : I have never worked in a station like Aruba were the airport is so small airlines share gates. I am Sure UA flies to airports like that but I don't kn
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