Flight Doesn’t Have A Gate – Why And What To Do?

After completing the routine procedures associated with airline travel, you are finally set to board the plane only to find out the flight doesn't have a gate! This is a common occurrence that could be resolved. We've learned what to do if you find yourself in this situation.

The aircraft for your flight might not have been assigned a gate due to:

  • bad weather
  • mechanical issues
  • turnaround time
  • airport as a business overextends capacity
  • air traffic
  • shared or common gate for several airlines  

It is best to wait while the airport authorities adjust the terminal arrivals/departures to ensure your aircraft has a gate and resolve the situation. To determine the assigned gate you can:

  • listen for announcements
  • watch the scheduling monitors listing arriving/departing flights with gate assignments
  • ask airline staff for help

Finding yourself in an airport with a boarding pass without a gate number might cause you to panic. But do not worry too much since we are here to guide you on what to do. The article aims to explain the reasons why such a situation ensues and how to deal with it.

If you wish to find out more, continue reading!

Young woman waiting in airport her flight, Flight Doesn't Have A Gate - Why And What To Do?

What Are Terminal Gates

Airport Terminal Gate

Airport gates are the designated areas where passengers are assigned before actually boarding the aircraft. After checking in, security, immigration, and customs, it is the final step before your trip. 

Typically, you are notified an hour or more beforehand regarding the location of your specific gate. Most airport facilities feature shopping and dining areas close to or within the same location to make the waiting process more pleasurable.

What If You Are Not Assigned A Gate Close To Departure 

The gate system of airports relies greatly on scheduling management based on the anticipated arrival and departure of flights.

Delays due to mechanical issues or unexpected weather changes would affect the interchange and render the terminal temporarily unavailable. 

For intercontinental flights, the information is usually announced two to three hours before departure and one to two hours for domestic travel. 

You might begin to worry if details about the gate are not made available close to the time of departure or not at all when the scheduled flight was supposed to take off. 

There are several reasons this happens and keep in mind, the responsibility falls on the airline and not your own.

Will The Airline Provide A Solution If No Gate Is Assigned

Air travel is a competitive business and the airline company would like to keep you as a regular client. As mentioned, there are too many variables involved in the management of flights. 

However, when the airline encounters operational problems, the company aims to resolve the issue and keep the system going. Wait it out while the situation is managed.

What To Do If Your Flight Doesn't Have A Gate 

 I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport Bali, Indonesia

The best you can do is to wait for airport personnel to resolve the issue while constantly checking flight monitors for updates. 

In some cases, your flight number along with the gate will be announced a few minutes before boarding. While this is true, listening to announcements can be troublesome, especially when the audio is not clear and the surroundings are quite loud.

Watch the monitors displaying arrivals and departures; the gates will be listed here as soon as each aircraft is assigned.

So if the boarding time is approaching and you still don’t have a gate, it is ideal to ask the staff. In most instances, they will direct you to the gates designated for specific airlines.

Reasons Why Flights Are Delayed And Gates Are Unavailable

 A closing lane of Nothing to declare with a display in English and Vietnamese language in the arrival hall at Da Nang International Airport

It is true that delayed flights can be quite frustrating. In most cases, however, airlines have to postpone flights due to safety reasons such as mechanical issues or weather-related concerns. Once one of these situations ensues, the airport’s timetable is affected.

Bad Weather

Although planes are designed to withstand different types of weather conditions, flying in extremely bad weather is practically a cause of concern. It is safer to postpone the flight than to fly amidst strong rain, snow, and storm.

Since airplanes fly in high altitudes, rain and snow may turn into hale and ice which can do considerable damage to a plane. Bad weather also affects the pilot’s visibility. To properly fly the plane, they should be completely aware of the surroundings.

Not only that, bad weather can occur anywhere in the state and outside the country. Even if the general condition in your current location is stable, it does not mean that it also applies to your destination. Constantly check weather reports to be updated.

Mechanical Issues

Mechanical issues are probably one of the common reasons for flight delays. Aircraft do have intricate components – when one is affected, it can usually have an effect on the conditions and operational capacity of other parts within the plane.

It is important for the issue to be sorted out before the plane can take off. And it is still best that the airline had found the issue sooner than later, after all, the main concern is still the passengers on board the plane.

Even when the issue is resolved, the plane cannot take off immediately because it has to undergo re-inspection and documentation. The process usually takes longer than expected, as a result, it could delay your flight even more.

Turnaround  Time

The turnaround time of an aircraft is the period that elapses between landing and takeoff for the next flight. The process involves simultaneous procedures from disembarking the passengers and crew, unloading cargo, cleaning the cabin, refueling, and preparing for the next flight.

The average turnaround time for large aircraft is about 1 1/2 hours if everything runs smoothly and goes on schedule. Short delays may occur if the plane is booked to capacity and the disembarkation and unloading of cargo take longer than usual.

Airport As A Business

You may find it hard to believe that the relevance of this section has everything to do with the reason why your gate is unavailable. 

First, airports are owned by the government and leased or rented out to airlines that are basically interested in the location and profitability of the area.

That being said, airport authorities tend to overextend the use of the facility beyond capacity. This results in large quantities of airplanes and an overbooked airport. Since this is the case, air traffic and shared gates cannot be avoided.

Air Traffic

The main reason terminal gates become inaccessible is due to flight delays caused by air traffic. Airports feature numerous complex operations that hinge on time schedules and too many variables can disrupt the process.

If a plane does not land or take off at the designated time, the timetable is affected based on the anticipated occupancy allotted for the aircraft. 

If such situation ensues, then all flights will be moved and postponed, and as such, the gate numbers become unavailable indefinitely. 

Shared Or Common Gate

There are two types of gate agreements between the airport management and the airline, exclusive and shared use. 

Under the former, the gate is leased by an airline company and has exclusive use of the facility. This makes flight management smoother since only the said airline's schedule is followed. 

Delays usually occur with shared use agreements since the gates are utilized by several airlines. Problems arising from one aircraft would create a domino effect and disrupt the rest of the schedule.

How Long Can A Plane Wait For A Gate?

Unrecognizable Man With Bag And Suitcase Walking In Airport, Rear View

Tarmac delays can occur and sometimes cannot be avoided. This may happen because there is no jet bridge or gate available at the moment.

It is an airport rule that passengers cannot be left on the plane for more than three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights. Airline personnel must have a functional jetbridge, and available gate before the specified time elapses. 

Note that the attendants are obligated to keep you comfortable and provide you with snacks and beverages as long as the pilot deemed it is safe to do so. Instances wherein the plane is on an active runway do not count.

In Closing 

Flight Doesn't Have A Gate - Why And What To Do?

Gates could be unavailable just before a flight mainly due to delays which in turn are caused by mechanical issues, bad weather, or heavy air traffic. Keep in mind that the airline management has contingency plans to expedite resolving the issue.

It is best just to wait it out, shop, eat or enjoy a book. We hope the article provided enough insight into the matter.

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