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 Number “GTE” underneath?
You’ll probably ask the agent what this 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 I could actually help someone (or many) if the same #TravelProblem happened to them.
I’m not going to mention/show the Airplane company I flew with, but I still wanted to show you what my boarding pass looked like without a seat number, so you’re aware in case this happens to you.
Instead of a seat number, I got “GTE” printed on my ticket… this basically means that I was going to be assigned a seat at the gate… aka if there are any available seats left on my flight.
This basically means the flight was oversold & they’re hoping someone doesn’t show up so I may get the seat I paid for. WOW. LUCKY ME.
I fly with this company all the time & this is the first time where I didn’t get a seat, even though my partner (who checked in with me at the same time) did.
Like pardon me, excuse me, WTF?
How can my partner get a seat & I don’t when checking in at the same time? It’s because I’m a gay ginger isn’t it?!
Okay I’ll try not to be TOO dramatic here, but still, I was NOT HAPPY at 6am when I found this out… as you can imagine…
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 away from home and get to my sunny beach resort.
What’s even more weird is that the agent even checked me in first before him. She told me I had to wait at the gate to get an assigned seat, and then checked my partner in only to find out he got a seat.
Like I’m sorry but clearly this was a system error…
I literally was like “Ummmm no, 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 plane with my partner to my destination (aka the connecting flight in Toronto), our vacation was going to be ruined.
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 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 to really see how much of a big customer I really am.
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.
After going through security, I went to my gate & asked a customer service agent about getting on a waitlist.
Apparently, 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”.
I asked the customer service agent if there is anything I could do to guarantee a flight to Toronto so I don’t miss my connecting flight. She said all I could do is wait continue to wait patiently.
OH GURL. USE THE WORD PATIENTLY ONE MORE TIME. I DARE YOU. (these were my internal thoughts at 6:20am without coffee or breakie).
I texted my best friend who’s a flight attendant, and he said I should inquire about other flights flying to Toronto and see if there’s available seats.
I noticed there was a 7am flight to Toronto (I was on the 8am flight), and it was like 6:45am 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’s any seats available for the 7am flight to Toronto”.
She said it might be impossible 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 and said “Put me on that plane please.”
I went back to my partner told him in 5 secs that I am catching the 7am 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 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.
LUCK WAS ON MY SIDE.
YAASS TRAVEL QUEENS.
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.
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.
THANK YOU SWEET BABY JESUS!
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.
All in all, my vacation was saved thanks to me and tips from my flight attendant bestie and my athletic abilities to run across the airport to catch a flight – I’m use to this (remember that time my craving for a 6-inch almost missed me my flight?)
Oh the personal travel stories I have tucked away… I really should write a book about all my #TravelProblems as a gay man traveling this world.
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.
To avoid this chaos, my 5 travel tips for you are:
- 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.
- Even if you check-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.
- If you don’t have a seat, go to the airport early and make sure you’re first on the waiting list.
- Always go to the airport early because you could always see if the company has another flight to your destination, or connecting city.
- Sign up for loyalty programs so that the systems see that you travel with the company often and hopefully this helps you get assigned a seat (like my partner did). Use those points for a free trip somewhere because you deserve it honey.
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 but also so they know what to do if they fly without a seat number! #ShareTheLove