What Does a Gate Agent Do?

Airports · 5 min read · Dec 20, 2022
gate agent

Although a gate agent’s job might seem like a self explanatory position, it entails a lot more than you can imagine. The work done by a gate agent encompasses more than just the area of the boarding gates. It is no wonder that gate agents are commonly referred to as customer service agents. They have to deliver world class service and uphold the impeccable image of any airline or airport they work for.

Below, you will find all of the key information regarding the profession of a gate agent. What tasks are they responsible for, what skills are needed to perform the tasks, what are the usual working hours and the typical salary.

Essential Responsibilities

As the title of the job suggests, the principal role of a gate agent is to board and deplane passengers. However, it is not as easy as just opening and closing the jetway door. Gate agents work under very specific time constraints. They have to make sure that crowds of people flow smoothly and efficiently. An agent often has to deal with flight delays and work non-stop to provide service for constantly departing and arriving planes.

A line of travelers boarding an airplane while the sun is setting


Assisting with the check in process is another important task of the job. Ticketing and baggage check, scanning, booking and re-booking tickets and helping with any special requests that the passengers may have are all essential parts of the boarding process. An airline gate agent has to manage all these tasks while under a tight plane schedule.

Assisting travelers

Assisting unaccompanied minors and passengers with special needs takes up a big part of the job. This may include helping children navigate the boarding process, leading them to their gate and seat and most importantly reassuring and making them feel safe. Aiding travelers with special needs may include some more straining physical tasks such as pushing wheelchairs. It is important to note that there are other physically taxing tasks such as lifting heavy bags.

A child with a suitcase in an airport corridor

Flight status announcements

Customer service agents serving as receptionists are also responsible for relaying information, both individually to curious customers and publicly to all passengers through the PA system. Agents have to keep up with the ever-changing information about arrival and departure times, accurate gates and other essential instructions.

Impeccable customer service

An airline gate agent practices safety conscious behaviors, they have to maintain and ensure safe boarding and deplaning processes.

As dealing with passengers is at the root of every task, gate agents must always maintain a courteous and friendly manner. Being an agent is being the face of the airline and airport. It is essential to maintain professionalism in any situation that may arise. Airline workers often have to deal with disgruntled and annoyed passengers so it is absolutely vital to maintain a benevolent attitude.

Skill set required

Most airlines do not require a very intricate set of skills and a big point of attraction to this job is that airlines do not deem previous work experience as a prerequisite. However, it is important to note a few competences that the employers expect you to possess.


Every airline has slightly different requirements but in most a high school diploma is considered as sufficient education. However, students fresh out of high school might not be considered due to certain airlines having age requirements. Some jobs only admit employees that are over 21.

airport gate agent sitting by her desk in a crowded airport

Character traits

Since customer service is one of the most important parts of the job, this position is for someone with impeccable communication skills. Even though the potential employees do not need to pass a customer service assessment it is important to possess great verbal communication skills and have excellent written communication skills.

Being amiable and patient are two character skills that every airline looks for. Dealing with strong tempered passengers requires a benevolent personality. To maintain an airline’s professional image, gate agents must remain calm in confrontational situations.

Another important character trait is managing stressful situations well. Airlines have very hectic environments, with flight delays and cancellations the work can quickly become overwhelming. This position requires a person who can deal with tight time restrictions and find order in all the chaos.

Gate agent working at a check in desk in an airport.

Technical and physical skills

Many of the tasks have to be performed on a computer, so gate agents have to possess basic computer skills. Even simple tasks such as changing passengers’ seats or reviewing proper travel documentation have to be done on computer programs by typing certain codes. It is important to be tech-savvy and a quick learner to become a competent gate agent.

Agents also have to be physically fit, since the job includes physical labor. Between helping passengers with special needs and frequent lifting of heavy bags during the baggage check in process, the employee has to possess physical strength. Certain airlines even state the number of pounds that a gate agent may be expected to lift, these range from 60 to 70 pounds. Although the employers do not enforce a physical ability test, it is essential to assess your abilities objectively.

Some airports require their gate agents to have a valid driver’s license as gate agents might have to assist ground staff and drive airport vehicles.

Heavy luggage and bags in an airport

Background information

A job at an airline understandably requires a potential employee to disclose certain background information. This can include extensive employment, residence background checks and even a criminal history record check. Potential gate agents also have to pass a drug test. Additionally, some airports might require a clean driving record.

Work hours

Since airports operate 24/7 the job of a gate agent is performed in shifts. This means that work hours are flexible and employees can adjust them based on their personal needs. However, the hours also include late evenings and very early mornings, weekends and holidays. There is also a possibility to be a seasonal customer service agent. Seasonal customer service agents get to work during a specific time period that best suits their needs.

Passengers boarding an airplane late at night

Typical salary

The salary of a gate agent is typically somewhere between $16 to $20 an hour depending on the particular airline and number of responsibilities. This is only the starting pay and with years of experience the salary may become higher.

Closing Remarks

As is clear from the long list of responsibilities, being a gate agent is not as easy as it may sound. The profession requires a very specific type of person. One who is incredibly calm under pressure, never losses their temper and is always in a good mood.

Getting a position as a gate agent is fairly straight forward. Previous experience is not required and a high school diploma is accepted. The skills required are quite basic, from having computer skills to owning a driver’s license.

However, the specifics of the job can only be undertaken by dedicated, hard-working and communicative individuals. A gate agent has to be responsible and not afraid of physical labor.

If you plan on applying for a gate agent’s position, carefully consider all of the responsibilities you will be taking on and evaluate whether you possess the required skills. If everything seems to be to your liking then go ahead and send an application to your favorite airline or airport.

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Jet pilot @NASA

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