An Understanding of Boarding Procedure at Airport

In order to reach the boarding lounge, you must identify yourself to checkpoint officers at the airport. Your identity is no longer in question. Fumbling with your ID will slow the boarding process. Since you have already checked in at the ticket counter or on a computer if you checked in online, you do not have to check in at the gate. The computer knows you checked in. If you have a seat assignment, you are good to go. This is not because gate agents do not want to be bothered by passengers, just saving you the trouble of an unnecessary step. Passengers with international connections must present a passport prior to boarding.

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Usually gate agents arrive well before boarding time. They will busy themselves gathering information for the crew and preparing paperwork. They will check passenger lists and verify that the flight is running on time. They call for wheelchairs for inbound passengers.

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Unless there is a problem such, as a delayed flight, you may take the opportunity to request a different seat or add a frequent flier number or ask questions. Keep in mind the gate agent’s raison d’être is to get the plane out on time. When boarding begins, assistance time is over. Airlines are held to strict schedule adherence by the DOT and by airline corporate bean counters and most importantly by their passengers with tight connections. Late departures cause grief for airline employees from bag loaders to station managers.

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When the incoming plane arrives that will carry you to your destination, a gate agent will meet the plane outside or drive the passenger boarding bridge, also known as the jet bridge, to the door. When the front wheels of the plane are chocked by ramp workers, the gate agent signals to the flight attendant that it is safe for passengers to deplane. They may stay nearby to assist passengers or prevent them from by passing ramp workers to get their bags.

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When the plane is empty, the flight attendants pick up trash and articles left behind and inventory their safety materials; the flight deck crew checks the exterior of the plane and receives instructions from dispatch and the tower and perhaps they all have time for a brief break. They tell the gate agent when they are ready to board.

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Passengers try to bypass the checked bag fees by carrying on more items. Gate agents discover this ruse at the last minute and may have to delay boarding to manually check excess bags to the final destination. Overhead storage bins in regional aircraft are smaller than mainline jets. Roll aboard bags and duffel bags with extensible handles must be tagged and valet checked. Leave valet or ‘gate checked’ bags on the passenger boarding bridge or beside the plane if you board outside. Your bag will be returned plane side on arrival.

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