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What Happens At The Gate When Boarding Is Done?  
User currently offlineLAX888 From Singapore, joined Oct 2010, 279 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 7222 times:

What happens when boarding is completed at the gate? What kind of work is still to be done and why are the passenger lists still printed on those old style printers?

I often wondered observed gate agents typing away furiously after boarding is completed. Don't they just print out the passenger list, hand it to the cabin crew, close the doors and go to their next flight?

Thanks for some insights.

18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinewilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9031 posts, RR: 75
Reply 1, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks ago) and read 7193 times:
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Quoting LAX888 (Thread starter):
What happens when boarding is completed at the gate? What kind of work is still to be done and why are the passenger lists still printed on those old style printers

As usual, some paperwork needs to be done. So they print out the passenger list and close the door. Then they have to "end" the flight in the computer. So basically they close it for everything.

wilco737
  



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineJAGflyer From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 3526 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (2 years 7 months 3 weeks ago) and read 7172 times:

I would guess they need to print the manifest as it needs to include all of the scanned boarding passes of the passengers who are now onboard. Also they need to confirm any last minute changes to the baggage loading and call to have any missing passengers' bags removed.


Support the beer and soda can industry, recycle old airplanes!
User currently offlineFabo From Slovakia, joined Aug 2005, 1219 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7023 times:

Quoting LAX888 (Thread starter):
why are the passenger lists still printed on those old style printers?

It is very practical and cheap, you can have 3-4 copies printed in one run, and it is very practical in cases of Passenger Information List especially, to have it running continously in one piece. Also the printers are very sturdy, they last very long.
The only downside is noise, but come on, you are on an airport... And sometimes speed of printing, but usually PAX take longer to settle anyway.

Quoting LAX888 (Thread starter):
I often wondered observed gate agents typing away furiously after boarding is completed.

As reported, they need to finish and close the flight in system. That means for example clearing the no-shows, in that case, you have to look if they have a bag, if it has been loaded, or is it first flight of the day (that means rest of trip cancellation) or did they come in connecting, is there delay on their inbound? sometime you input some disrepancies that happened in the boarding, update gate-check bag info etc.

Also it is important that most if not all gate systems are still operated DOS style by text input. While that might seem archaic, it is a superior solution for similar industrial solutions as with experience you get very fast and powerful without need to navigate graphic menus and pages.

Quoting LAX888 (Thread starter):
Don't they just print out the passenger list, hand it to the cabin crew, close the doors and go to their next flight?

It depends on airport procedure if gate agents have to be present until doors closed, but generally after boarding is finished, they close the flight, which gives the possibility to finalise the loadsheet, approve it, and print it. When PIL and loadsheet is delivered to the aircraft, you give PIL to the cabin crew, and have the captain review and approve loadsheet. You then take one copy yourself and give some to CC as required. Meanwhile passengers are sitting down and stuff. When it is sufficiently possible, CC counts the passengers, and there has to be no disrepancy either between the counting CC or with loadsheet. If there is, you have to find the problem.

Sometime someone is in the bathroom, sometime F/A counts another crewmember/ground crew by mistake, sometime they don't account for an off-duty crewmember that is listed as a passenger but is in the cockpit at the moment, and also it sometimes happens that a PAX has wandered off before reaching the aircraft or a pax from different flight happened to board by mistake. (I had all of that happen to me).

Only then you can close the doors (but gate can be closed for some time now, and on different airports, gate agents might be involved at different level).



The light at the end of tunnel turn out to be a lighted sing saying NO EXIT
User currently offlineLAX888 From Singapore, joined Oct 2010, 279 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 6520 times:

Thanks to all and especially to Fabo for that detailed report and answering my questions!!

User currently offlinecanoecarrier From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2839 posts, RR: 12
Reply 5, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 6309 times:

Quoting LAX888 (Thread starter):

I often wondered observed gate agents typing away furiously after boarding is completed. Don't they just print out the passenger list, hand it to the cabin crew, close the doors and go to their next flight?

Fabo's answer is very good. I'll add that as a gate agent, especially when working the last flight of the day, you are really ready to get out of the terminal. It's been a few years since I worked gate ops, but typically one or two agents would verify the manifest during that time while another would go down to the aircraft until the crew was ready to close the door and depart. I can't remember exactly how long we had to keep the printed manifest but it was for a little while and then we could shred it.

I'll also add that our last flight used to leave at around midnight. It wasn't uncommon that once the flight was closed we'd send the counter agent to get his/her car so we could have a car waiting for us to make last call at a bar near the airport. By that time, we'd know whether or not we had to take any baggage claims and/or whether we could leave the airport. So, the furiously typing part might just be, "let's go get a drink", so we typed fast.



The beatings will continue until morale improves
User currently offlineLONGisland89 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 736 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 6167 times:

Ahhhhh, the sights of watching a flight close out, a joyous time for non-revs.

User currently offlineN243NW From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1632 posts, RR: 20
Reply 7, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6099 times:

Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 6):
Ahhhhh, the sights of watching a flight close out, a joyous time for non-revs.

I know the feeling well. Another related duty that no one has mentioned yet is rolling over extra standby pax to the next flight if the one pushing back is full.



B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.
User currently offlineFabo From Slovakia, joined Aug 2005, 1219 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 6070 times:

Quoting N243NW (Reply 7):
I know the feeling well. Another related duty that no one has mentioned yet is rolling over extra standby pax to the next flight if the one pushing back is full.

I dont think I have ever done that... oh the joys of a small, god-forgotten outstation.

But since I left the capacity on biggest route, OK to PRG, has been reduced from a 735+AT72*2+AT42 to 4*AT42, so almost 50% down if I count right... Yeah, with that I believe there are overbooks...



The light at the end of tunnel turn out to be a lighted sing saying NO EXIT
User currently offlineN243NW From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1632 posts, RR: 20
Reply 9, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 5843 times:

Quoting Fabo (Reply 8):
oh the joys of a small, god-forgotten outstation.

I'm at TUL, where I'm sure the agents have to deal with it all the time. TONS of employees wanting to nonrev everywhere on the weekends, and not as many flights as a large hub city like DFW or ORD.

Oh well - XNA and OKC aren't too far away...



B-52s don't take off. They scare the ground away.
User currently offlinem11stephen From United States of America, joined Aug 2008, 1247 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5666 times:

Quoting Fabo (Reply 3):
If there is, you have to find the problem.

Sometime someone is in the bathroom, sometime F/A counts another crewmember/ground crew by mistake, sometime they don't account for an off-duty crewmember that is listed as a passenger but is in the cockpit at the moment, and also it sometimes happens that a PAX has wandered off before reaching the aircraft or a pax from different flight happened to board by mistake. (I had all of that happen to me).

I swear on half of my flights my count doesn't match the F/As count! :/ All of the above have happened to me and the majority of the time when there is a discrepancy what happens is that when I go to scan the boarding pass our gate scanner will "freeze" and never actually register in the computer system that the pax has boarded. It's always so embarassing to have to go on the aircraft over the PA and say, "If passenger XXXXXX is on board would you please ring your flight attendant call button." I then go up to the passenger and ask to see both their boarding pass and ID to make sure that they are where they are suppose to be and then walk back up into the terminal to fix the problem on the computer.

After the last passenger boards and before I pull back the jet-bridge I do the following:
Obtain bag and cargo count from ramp
Obtain passenger count from computer
Fill out cargo load report
Print Flight Attendant paperwork
Confirm passenger count with Flight Attendant, hand F/A paperwork and let the F/A know about any specials
Hand the cargo load report to the pilot in command
Ask the captain, "Are you ready to go?" If I get a yes I then wish the flight deck crew a good flight and walk back into the cabin
I ask the F/A, "Are you ready to go?" If I get a yes I then wish the F/A a great flight
Pull back jet-bridge extender
Pull back jet-bridge
Finalize the flight in the computer
Perform final counts in the computer where I list how many revenue, non-revenue and paper ticket passengers there were

The airline I work for uses a "modern" overlay for it's computer system so, as of right now, I don't have to do any ferocious typing to close out a flight. Just a few clicks. The biggest thing that can hold up a departure is an inaccurate passenger count.



My opinions, statements, etc. are my own and do not have any association with those of any employer.
User currently offlinepackcheer From United States of America, joined Nov 2008, 332 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 5579 times:

With all the departures over the course of a day at an airport, how often to these issues come up?


Things that fly, Girls and Planes...
User currently offlinem11stephen From United States of America, joined Aug 2008, 1247 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5480 times:

Quoting packcheer (Reply 11):
With all the departures over the course of a day at an airport, how often to these issues come up?

On about one out of every three flights my count won't match the F/As count. Both F/As and CSAs are humans and we are both stressed to get things done at departure time. However, there are some F/As at my airline who are notorious for their inability to count. I even had one F/A tell me that there were, "54 adults, 4 children and one infant. I graduated from high school, I know how to count so don't get snippy and tell me I'm wrong." I said, "You must be a magician! I've never seen 54 adults, 4 children and one infant seated on a 50 seat plane before!" We also have some CSAs who aren't intelligent enough to listen for the "beep" when scanning a boarding pass causing a miscount.

Having an accurate passenger count and manifest is VITAL. In the event, god forbid, of an accident we NEED to know exactly how many people are on board so that we can determine how many people are accounted or unaccounted for. Imagine if there had been 150 people on board flight US1549 but only 148 listed on the manifest... Two people could be missing and no one would have known.



My opinions, statements, etc. are my own and do not have any association with those of any employer.
User currently offlineFabo From Slovakia, joined Aug 2005, 1219 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5169 times:

Quoting m11stephen (Reply 12):
Two people could be missing and no one would have known.

Or the other way round. Rescue teams would bust their asses looking for two people who are actually sitting somewhere looking at a TV telling everybody they were to be on that flight.



The light at the end of tunnel turn out to be a lighted sing saying NO EXIT
User currently offline777ord From United States of America, joined May 2010, 498 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 5089 times:

Something that I've had happen when I worked gate, were late arriving pax who you could see doing the always-fun-to-watch sprint across a terminal! To me, if holding a plane 2 minutes means I don't have to deal with them, and I need to do is reopen the flight, FINE! That is, unless they have a million carry ons and a stroller. Then sorry, I'm not opening cargo bins for you!

After that, due to being at an outstation. We'll have to do the weight and balance paperwork ensuring that dispatch received the closeout/audit we provided and then waiting for the aircraft to call us on company and advising us of their OUT and OFF time (as we do not have ACARS at this place). Then, we reposition all the equipment for the next arrival.

Then, we sit around and wait  . Wait some more. Then, wait for it to land. Then repeat.


User currently offlinem11stephen From United States of America, joined Aug 2008, 1247 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 4987 times:

Quoting 777ord (Reply 14):
Something that I've had happen when I worked gate, were late arriving pax who you could see doing the always-fun-to-watch sprint across a terminal! To me, if holding a plane 2 minutes means I don't have to deal with them, and I need to do is reopen the flight, FINE! That is, unless they have a million carry ons and a stroller. Then sorry, I'm not opening cargo bins for you!

The thing I fear the most is walking up the jet-bridge after I have already pulled back the bridge and opening the door to the terminal only to find a pax standing there who has missed their flight. Sorry but once the bridge is pulled back there is no way you are getting on. It's hilarious that people think that just because the plane is still sitting outside (Or is even in the process of being pushed back) I'm going to stop every thing and let them run across the tarmac to get on.

If you yell and scream at me and try to make it seem like your inability to wake up on time is my fault then I will follow my carrier's official policy and list you for standby on the next flight following the exact same itinerary you have. Keep in mind that if we only have two flights a day to your destination or connection city this means that you could easily be stuck sitting in the airport for hours. However, if you are nice and courteous, agents will gladly help you out and look at alternative routings and even other carriers to put you on to get you to your final destination as fast as possible. We understand that s**t happens and people miss their flights. What makes us mad is when passengers can't admit that they did something wrong and instead blame the airline. "I'm sorry, I forgot to set my alarm clock and woke up late. Could you please help me out? I really would appreciate it!" will get you a lot farther then, "You never paged me and I was here on time! It's 4:59 and my boarding pass says departure time of 5:00!"



My opinions, statements, etc. are my own and do not have any association with those of any employer.
User currently offlineHarmonium From Denmark, joined Feb 2012, 84 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 6 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 4200 times:

Well, new here - first post!  

All of the above is absolutely correct, but as a gate agent, I also have to send a few messages to the arrival airport of the flight. If it is just a point to point flight, then this usually includes a PSM, which is a declaration of any passengers needing special attention. This being unaccompanied minors, wheelchair users and the likes. Most new check-in systems have however rolled over to doing this automatically, based on information that check-in and the gate would apply to the given passenger in the system.
It also includes and LDM - load message - which to the handlers on the arrival airport declares how much baggage is on board, and also the distribution of the bags in respective holds. This message also indicates how many passengers are on board, typically divided into male/female/children/infants or adults/children/infants. If the aircraft is due to touch down and pick up more pax before reaching it's final destination, then this LDM would also include an overview of which seats are occupied, and can therefore not be used by the next station of departure.
At last a MVT - movement - has to be sent. This basically tells the arrival airport which aircraft(reg) is flying, when the aircraft was off block, airborne and an estimated time of departure. This is also where the gate agent(at least that's how we do it at my station) would fill in the explanation for any given delay. This is typically done in IATA delay codes. And though it seems simple, it can often be quite a pain in the ... to find out exactly why the aircraft was on block for 10+ minutes after the doors where closed and pushback operator was ready! 

These are the 'basic' three messages, I'm sure that bigger and more advanced stations send more messages or their messages may contain more information, but at my little outstation - this is what we do!  


User currently offlineaklrno From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 941 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (2 years 6 months 4 weeks ago) and read 4131 times:

Quoting m11stephen (Reply 15):

Quoting 777ord (Reply 14):
Something that I've had happen when I worked gate, were late arriving pax who you could see doing the always-fun-to-watch sprint across a terminal! To me, if holding a plane 2 minutes means I don't have to deal with them, and I need to do is reopen the flight, FINE! That is, unless they have a million carry ons and a stroller. Then sorry, I'm not opening cargo bins for you!

The thing I fear the most is walking up the jet-bridge after I have already pulled back the bridge and opening the door to the terminal only to find a pax standing there who has missed their flight. Sorry but once the bridge is pulled back there is no way you are getting on. It's hilarious that people think that just because the plane is still sitting outside (Or is even in the process of being pushed back) I'm going to stop every thing and let them run across the tarmac to get on.

If you yell and scream at me and try to make it seem like your inability to wake up on time is my fault then I will follow my carrier's official policy and list you for standby on the next flight following the exact same itinerary you have. Keep in mind that if we only have two flights a day to your destination or connection city this means that you could easily be stuck sitting in the airport for hours. However, if you are nice and courteous, agents will gladly help you out and look at alternative routings and even other carriers to put you on to get you to your final destination as fast as possible. We understand that s**t happens and people miss their flights. What makes us mad is when passengers can't admit that they did something wrong and instead blame the airline. "I'm sorry, I forgot to set my alarm clock and woke up late. Could you please help me out? I really would appreciate it!" will get you a lot farther then, "You never paged me and I was here on time! It's 4:59 and my boarding pass says departure time of 5:00!"

I hope you have a bit more sympathy for people arriving at the gate late because your company's connecting flight was late. It was that kind of attitude that made me stop flying US when I stood at the gate watching my connection closing when they knew very well I was just barely going to make it.


User currently offlineHarmonium From Denmark, joined Feb 2012, 84 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (2 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3983 times:

Quoting aklrno (Reply 17):
I hope you have a bit more sympathy for people arriving at the gate late because your company's connecting flight was late. It was that kind of attitude that made me stop flying US when I stood at the gate watching my connection closing when they knew very well I was just barely going to make it.

I think every (above average) gate agent would have sympathy for that situation. However, at times it is just not possible to get you on the plane, regardless of sympathy. If the aircraft is due for a destination with troubling weather and slot times being pushed out, there's just no way that I'm taking any chances on missing the current slot. There may be any number of reasons why you may make your connection at a given time one day, but not some other day. Stand may be needed for another aircraft etc.


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