FYI: Gate changes are common

My best friend recently traveled to Atlanta for a conference. She had plenty of stories for the blog when she came back (just wait until you hear my etiquette for next week–I shudder just to think of it), but the first thing that caught my ear was this. “The Atlanta airport is so disorganized!” she said. “I arrived at my gate, and was sitting there waiting for my flight, when out of nowhere they made an announcement that they were changing the gate!” She stopped, waiting for my reaction.  “What else happened that made you think they are disorganized?” I asked. “Well, nothing. That was it,” she answered.

At this point, I was reminded how much stuff frequent fliers deal with that is baffling to those who fly less often. Airport security (“What do you mean I can’t take barbecue sauce in my carry-on? It’s sealed!”), turbulence (“Are we going to crash? What’s happening??”), and yes, gate changes. I can absolutely see how frustrating gate changes would be if you’ve never dealt with it before, but unfortunately it’s a fact of traveling life. Airplanes arrive late, depart early, flights get canceled, etc. And the people who figure out the gates are arranging and rearranging a constantly moving puzzle. Honestly, considering how many flights go in and out of Atlanta (and DFW, ORD, JFK, LAX…..) it’s surprising the gates aren’t changing even more often!

I don’t spent a lot of time in the Atlanta airport, so for all I know it could actually be disorganized. But gate changes will happen everywhere, from the largest to the smallest airports. Every so often, check the sign at your gate to make sure you’re still at the right place. And remember, traveling is an adventure! Try to be flexible and just go with the flow, and it will be way less stressful.

Readers, is there anything that was disconcerting to you when you first started traveling that you are used to now?


  1. i know how nerve-racking being on the standby list can be, but i’ve learned to just sit near the monitors to see where my place is in line. i often see newbie travelers constantly going back to the desk to ask where they are and how long before they’ll know if they’re on that flight or not.

    and a tip for gate changes: always set up mobile alerts for your flight. sometimes the changes are sent to your phone before they’re posted on the monitors, and that will make you more aware of a change if you missed an announcement or didnt’ check the monitors regularly.

  2. I had an experience at Copenhagen airport where they transferred us back and forth from one gate to another three to four times – between the same two gates.

  3. What has been most frustrating for me has been mere human inconsistency. This impacts not just flight travel but also hotel stays. In my first experiences, I’m learning “how it works” and naturally assume that whatever worked or happened the first time will continue–but my little swiss army knife that made it through security on one trip won’t make it through next time. The towels provided one day won’t necessarily be provided in the same way on the next. Even my GPS system with the same name rented with the same car rental company might turn out to look completely different.

    As you say, it’s all about staying flexible and realizing that most people in the world are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, and nothing/nobody is “perfect.”

  4. I wish I had more of Amy’s go-with-it attitude, but I find myself getting crankier and less flexible with each gate change and/or tarmac wait. I still love traveling, but increased rules and fewer comforts sometimes make me long for the predictability of a cubicle.

  5. Switching gates but not annoucing it really annoys me-
    Got off the plane with 3 young kids – checked my gate and started walking. 10 minutes later arrived at new gate and was told they switched it and it was where we originally got off our first plane (gate across from it). IT wouldn’t have been so bad if our plane wasn’t going to be leaving soon and it was overbooked.
    I love to travel and I am usually flexible but running with 3 little kids almost killed me.

  6. I found it confusing to watch for the flight schedule. I like to arrive early and things do happen. The first time the gate changed it freaked me. Got used to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.