May 10, 2021

Airline gate agents share 17 things they’d love to tell travelers but can’t

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By Rachel Gillett From Business Insider

There are some things gate or ticketing agents at the airport — whether for job security reasons or to keep hundreds of anxious fliers happy — just can’t tell travelers.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to. In fact, many of these things could be to their or your benefit, if only someone would speak up.

So Business Insider asked airline customer-service reps to weigh in on the one thing they’d love to tell passengers but can’t.

We’ve included some of the more constructive thoughts here anonymously:

‘Be honest’

“I’ve heard that excuse a thousand times.”

‘No, we can’t just give you a free upgrade’

Getty Images/Andrew Burton

“Different airlines have different rules, but a change or upgrade can get you fired these days. And it’s not worth our jobs. The airline computer system tracks everything, and big brother can be watching us.”

‘This job is more stressful than you know’

“I’ve been assaulted twice during my decades of working with the airlines. The stress of this job can be compared to working in any emergency room.”

“We are under a tremendous amount of pressure.”

“Many agents have been physically attacked by customers, including myself.”

‘Be more considerate of your fellow travelers’

“Cutting your toenails, flossing your teeth, putting on nail polish, and talking loudly on your cellphone shouldn’t be done in public in the gate areas while you’re waiting for your flight.”

‘Just relax — deep breaths’

Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images

“Is your issue really as serious as the stress you are causing to yourself and others?”

‘Stop waiting till last minute’

“If you show up to the airport with 20 minutes to spare, you might miss the flight. It is not like taking the bus. Plan ahead.”

“Take responsibility for your actions. Don’t be late.”


“Travelers think we are being rude when we tell them, “No, you can’t do what you want to.” We tell them no because we are enforcing the rules that have been made up by our company, not by us personally. The rules are there for a reason — not to make traveling harder but to make it safer.”

‘It’s not all about you’

Getty Images/Scott Olson

“You’re not the only person here.”

‘We can’t change the rules’

“Most of the rules were made for safety reasons. Travelers think the rules are a nuisance or trivial, but they are rules for a reason. It’s to keep the passengers safe.”

‘You need my help?’

“Treat me right, and you will get the best I can give you.”

“You get more with honey than with vinegar.”

“If you are rude and yelling at me, do you really think I want to help you?”

‘You don’t need to pack everything and the kitchen sink’

tinou bao via flickr

“Inexperienced international travelers don’t realize the size of taxis and public transportation in the cities they are visiting. That extra-large suitcase is not going to fit in a trunk of a cab. And you might often have to walk a distance to your hotel, which means dragging all your luggage with you. You really can get by with less when you travel.”

‘Stop blaming us for flight cancellations’

“No, we don’t have spare airplanes to use if there is a cancellation.”

‘We’re doing a lot’

“We are responsible for ticketing, handling baggage, boarding, deplaning, dispatching flights efficiently and safely. We handle complaints, cancellations, lost luggage, weather delays, and travelers’ problems — all while trying to make our passengers’ process easy, efficient, and less stressful for all.”

‘We can’t control the weather’

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

“I kid you not: I had someone tell me that we had technology to control fog. We don’t.”

‘Don’t keep bugging the gate agents with questions they have already answered in their announcements’

“They are working with a time crunch, and all those extra questions are keeping them from doing their work.”

‘It is a federal crime to assault (and that includes credible verbal threats) an airport worker’

“If you threaten us, you can be arrested. We will call the police, and you will not fly. The punishment for assaulting us is a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.”

‘We as airline agents and we as travelers all need to be more considerate of each other’


“We are trying to do our jobs as best as we can. We realize traveling isn’t fun and easy as it used to be. But we all need to try to make it easier for each other.”

Responses have been edited for clarity.

Do everyone a favor and read this before you fly. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

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