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Why Does Your Boarding Pass Say "See Agent" And What Does That Mean?
Airline travel can be stressful and the last thing you want is to have complications with your boarding pass. What does it mean when “see agent” appears on it?
As noted by Condé Nast Traveler, “there’s more information than you think encoded on your airline boarding pass. One of those codes—’see agent’ or ‘seat assigned at gate’—can be especially disconcerting. Contrary to popular belief, those words (the verbiage varies by air carrier) do not necessarily mean that you are about to be bumped from your flight. Provided you have a confirmed reservation, there can be several reasons for why it’s on your ticket.”
Check out these possible reasons as illustrated by Condé Nast.
Additional Documents Are Necessary
You may need to provide extra documentation.
As Condé Nast notes, “if you had not previously selected a seat, some airlines cannot automatically issue a boarding pass with a seat assignment until the documents are checked.”
What additional documentation is needed? It could be a range of things such as visas, a COVID vaccination card and/or proof of a negative test.
You Flight Is Code Share
Airlines may be in competition with each other, but sometimes they join forces “to sell seats on their own planes and vise- versa.”
For example, you could have booked a flight with American Airlines on sites like Expedia, but the actual carrier you’ll be on is United Airlines. You are informed of this in advance.
Condé Nast notes, “if you’re flying another airline than the one from which you bought your ticket, try calling that airline in advance of your flight to make a seat assignment. Typically, they assign one on their end to help you avoid the ‘luck of the draw’ at the gate.”
Flight Is Overbooked
This is irritating for passengers and it’s easy to conclude that the airline carrier is just being greedy. Which isn’t exactly wrong.
But from the airline’s perspective, this is totally OK. Why? Because “airlines rely on historical data to account for passengers that do not show up for a flight.”
In the event the flight is overbooked, an agent might get on the loudspeaker and ask if anyone would be willing to go on another flight.
If no one agrees “those left without a seat assignment could be among the first to be involuntarily bumped, which includes someone with the note ‘see agent’ on their boarding pass.”
Last Minute Aircraft Changes
Sometimes, the aircraft has to be changed at the last minute.
If the new aircraft isn’t as big, this would impact not just seating arrangements, but how many passengers can be accommodated.
Condé Nast explains, “keep an eye on the seat map of your flight to watch for any changes in advance so you can manage expectations before you reach the airport.”
Your Fare Is Basic Economy
Carriers like Delta and American “do not assign a free seat for basic economy fares until the ticket counter or the gate,” says Condé Nast. “These ultra-restrictive fares are usually the cheapest and come with limitations.”
If this is the kind of fare you booked, then ‘see agent’ likely means the airline will give you a seat just before boarding.