A Plane Ticket With GTE Seat – How I Solved The Problem

Has this ever happened to you? Money is spent on a plane ticket & when you check-in, the agent hands you a plane ticket without a seat number and instead says Seat “GTE” underneath?

GTE Seat Plane Ticket

You’ll probably ask the agent what GTE means and they’ll inform you that you don’t have a seat number yet… UMM WHAT.


I wasn’t going to write this blog post, but then I realized my personal GTE issue and solution could actually help someone (like you!) if the same travel problem happens. I’ve listed below tips on what you should do if you get a GTE seat.

What is GTE on Boarding Pass?

GTE on boarding pass means the flight is oversold. GTE stands for “gate” which means you’ll have to wait at the gate for an available seat.

What Does Seat GTE Mean?

Instead of a seat number, I got “GTE” on my boarding pass. If you got a Seat GTE, it means you might be assigned a seat at the gate… aka if there were any available seats left on my flight. I was told to go to the gate and ask to be put on a waiting list.

My GTE ticket meant my flight was oversold & they’re hoping someone doesn’t show up so I may get the seat I paid for. WOW. LUCKY ME.

I’m not going to mention/show the Airplane company I flew with, but I still wanted to show you what my GTE boarding pass looked like without a seat number, so you’re aware in case this happens to you.

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What To Do If You Get GTE Seat

  1. If you have a GTE Seat, go to the agent at your gate and get on the waiting list as fast as you can.
  2. Look for the airline’s customer service agent, and ask if there’s anything they can do about getting you an actual seat.
  3. If they say to just be patient, do what I did and look to see if there are any other flights going to your destination or connecting city.
  4. Try to catch an earlier flight to that city! As always, going to the airport early has its benefits to getting an earlier flight! If you checked in a suitcase under your name, you might not be able to get an earlier flight since your suitcase is supposed to be on the same flight as you, but obviously inquire.
  5. After this GTE seat situation is over, make sure you sign up for the loyalty programs so that next time systems see that you travel with the company and hopefully this helps you get assigned a seat (like my partner did). After earning points, use those points for a free trip somewhere because you deserve it!

BONUS TIP: Always try checking in online – to hopefully get assigned a seat or at least be aware ahead of time that you don’t have a seat yet. This allows you time to think of a Plan B as I did. However, you should know that if you are checked-in online and get a seat, there are reports from others online that checked in online and then brought their luggage to be checked-in and a ‘stand-by’ label was added to their luggage, and they were downgraded to GTE. The boarding pass they printed at home was worthless. So even if you check-in online, you should re-print your boarding pass at the airport to be double sure.

My Seat GTE Problem & How I Solved The Problem

I fly with the airline all the time & this is the first time I got a GTE seat! The funny thing (yet, not so funny) is that my partner (who checked in with me at the same time) got a seat with a seat number.

How can my partner get a seat & I don’t when checking in at the same time? It’s because I’m a redhead, isn’t it?!

Okay I’ll try not to be TOO dramatic here, but still, I was NOT HAPPY at 6 am when I found this out… as you can imagine… your partner getting a seat AFTER I was checked in first and got a GTE seat.

I felt like Catherine O’Hara in Home Alone wanting to get home to my son for Christmas, but in this situation, I just wanted to get to my sunny beach resort with my partner.

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I still don’t fully understand how I got the GTE seat, but my partner didn’t. Yes, we booked tickets separately, however, I booked my ticket weeks before he cooked his.

The agent checked me in first before my boyfriend, so why did I get a GTE seat and then went ahead and gave him a seat?!

Like I’m sorry but clearly this was a system error…

I literally was like “Ummmm what, how does my partner have a seat and I don’t? Am I suppose to sit on his lap like some dog or small child?! Or will you be assigning me a seat in the cockpit?

I would settle for a seat in the cockpit… sounds sexy.

Her response was “Sorry there’s nothing I can do, you’ll have to see the gate agent for your seat number”.

If I didn’t get on the first plane with my boyfriend (our first flight was to Toronto and then get our connecting flight to Fort Lauderdale), our vacation was going to be ruined.

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Could the Seat GTE problem be solved with Online Check-In?

A part of me wished I checked-in online (like I usually do) instead of checking in at the airport 2.5 hours before my departure.

I originally thought by checking in online ahead of everyone else, I would get a seat. However, based on other people’s experience I read online, this is not the case.

Supposedly, it all comes down to what your status is with the company. If you’re a big customer, they probably give you preferential treatment; aka a seat like my boyfriend got (since he did pay full price).

If you got the cheapest fare possible (aka me), they see that you likely have no loyalty, and might bump you because the company has the least to lose that way.

They didn’t even take my Miles and More loyalty card number at the counter (I asked) to really see how much of a big customer I really am.

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I’ve seen this situation before with other airlines, where they oversell seats and start auctioning off seats.

They auction off seats by paying a customer between $100 to $1000 or more to give their seat to someone else on the waiting list; often someone who was separated from their family or partner like me.

I’ve almost volunteered once to give me seat to someone, and wait at the airport for the next flight because I was going to get $800 voucher which I could use on my next flight.

But someone beat me to it last year. It’s actually a great way to save money for your travels. #TravelTip

The thing is, if it happened on the way back from my vacation, I wouldn’t care, but after a snowy winter, I desperately needed to get on a plane to Toronto to catch my connecting flight to my beach holiday.

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How I solved my GTE Seat Problem

After going through security, I went to my gate & asked a customer service agent about getting on a waitlist.

This is the first thing you should do if you get GTE or told that your seat will be assigned at the gate. But with my luck, the gate agent wasn’t there to put me on a waitlist so I had to “sit down and wait patiently” according to a customer service agent.

I asked the customer service agent if there is anything I could do to guarantee my flight to Toronto so I don’t miss my connecting flight to Florida. She said all I could do is “wait patiently…”

OH GIRL. USE THE WORD PATIENTLY ONE MORE TIME. I DARE YOU. (these were my internal thoughts at 6:20am without coffee, ok?).

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I texted my flight attendant friend, and he said I should inquire about other flights flying to Toronto (early or later) and see if there are available seats.

I noticed there was a 7 am flight to Toronto (I was on the 8 am flight), and it was already 6:45 am by this time.

I went back to the oh-so-pleasant customer service agent and said “I need you to look to see if there are any seats available for the earlier 7 am flight to Toronto”.

She said it might be impossible since gate was closing soon and I said check now so I can “not-so-patiently” run to the gate (it was only 6 gates away).

She said there was 1 seat available. I stared at her, beating my eyelashes & clutching my passport. I said, “Put me on that plane… please.”

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I went back to my partner told him in 5 secs that I am catching the 7 am flight so I’m guaranteed to be in Toronto and that I will meet him in Toronto.

The great thing about my boyfriend, when it comes to traveling, is that he knows I do this for a living (hi, I’m a travel blogger!) and trusts me when I take drastic measures. He said, “okay I’ll see you in Toronto”. I grabbed my carry on, kissed him and ran for the gate.

Luckily, I didn’t have any checked luggage since our 1 luggage went under my partner’s name. This is key. If I had checked luggage under my name, I wouldn’t have been able to shift flights as easily.



I felt like I was on The Amazing Race trying to catch an earlier flight to get ahead of my competition, but in reality, I was just trying to guarantee a seat to Toronto. I shouldn’t have to go through this as a customer, but this is just part of my daily life as a travel blogger.

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I ran to the gate, told them a customer service agent put me on this plane. The agent looked at my ticket and passport, wrote my new seat number on it and allowed me to board right before the gate closed.


I managed to get on the jam-packed flight to Toronto, 1 hour ahead of my original scheduled flight that I may or may not have gotten on.

My boyfriend says there were a few people without seats, but since he boarded with a seat, he wasn’t sure if all or any people made it on the flight.

Since I wasn’t there to catfight a seat, I hope I saved one traveller who got a seat instead of me, since they didn’t have to fight me for one.

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All in all, my vacation was saved thanks to me not be “patient”, tips from my flight attendant bestie, and my athletic abilities to run across the airport to catch an earlier flight before it took off – I’m used to this (remember that time my 6-inch almost missed me my flight?)

Oh the many personal travel stories I have tucked away… I really should write a book about all my #TravelProblems as a gay man traveling this world. Either way, I’m happy to share this story and hope it’s helped.

For now, I’m going to end my rant with some travel tips to help you avoid this fiasco or help you if you come across the same situation.

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Has this ever happened to you? How did you deal with it?

Feel free to follow & message me on social @ryanthomaswoods!

Maybe forward this to a friend for a good laugh or to inform them about what to do if they fly without a seat number! #ShareTheLove

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Out With Ryan
Out With Ryan

Ryan Thomas Woods is the voice behind Out With Ryan. He’s an LGBTQ+ Activist & Travel writer for this website and many other publications. He was recently voted 2018’s Travel Influencer of Year in Canada and dedicated the award to all LGBTQ+ travelers making the world a better & safer space for our community, as he strives to do on his website & social platforms.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook


  1. Bailey Mills
    March 15, 2019 / 5:14 am

    It always scares me when this happens, especially if I have a connecting flight. Great read! <3

    • March 19, 2019 / 12:07 am

      Awww thanks Bailey <3 Yeah I never want this to happen to me again lol