Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Hello and welcome to Seat 1A!

When you travel, do you ever wonder how you can be that person who is always ahead of the pack, even when things go awry? Hosts Vinod Viswalingam (@VViswalingam) and Geoff Dahl (@geoffdahl) are proud to present The Seat 1A Podcast.

Seat 1A aims to provide savvy travellers with advanced industry based knowledge to enhance the air travel experience and take off from the crowd. By arming you with an understanding of the systems, processes, rules and structures that define modern air travel, Seat 1A strives to give you the upper hand by examining real experiences from abroad.

Whether traveling in ultra-economy or first-class, with or without frequent flyer status, knowing how the operation works will keep you moving in front of the masses, especially when things don’t go as planned. Seat 1A provides tips and tricks on how to make your travel experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Our goal is that you'll be in Seat 1A all the time!

We have over 5 million miles of flying and over 10 years working for numerous airlines, enjoying all classes and cabins, and exploring airports on every continent. We're enthusiastic #avgeeks, with a keen interest in modern aviation trends and aim to share our knowledge in The Seat 1A Podcast. To learn more about who we are, check out Experience 010!

The Seat 1A Podcast also relies on feedback from listeners, offering the chance to take real experiences and analyze them, breaking them down to understand what happened, where things went well or wrong and what can be learned from it. If you have a story, question or experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

In the meantime please find us wherever you download your podcasts, and tell all your friends!

Apple Podcasts




Google Play

Google Podcasts


RSS Feed

Experience 022 Show Notes. Why is my plane parked there? The world of gate assignments. The Seat 1A Podcast.

Oct 8, 2019

Recorded 03 October 2019

Written by: Geoff Dahl & Vinod Viswalingam

Listen to this experience wherever you download your podcasts - including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play and Overcast.

Apple Podcasts logo

Spotify logo

Google Play Music logo

In this experience we look at the world of gate assignments, and why your plane is parked at a specific location.

What is happening when you arrive at the airport and you're told that your gate is not available. We review the differences between gates and jet bridges. What does an airport need to do to prevent unnecessary mixing of passengers? What's a swing gate. What is the ramp and how is it set up? What happens on the ramp and inside the terminal when there's a last-minute gate change? What happens when you're parked out at a remote location or stand? Geoff shares his remote parking experience at DPS. Vinny has another really tight connection adventure with a bus at FRA. Vinny had a really long bus trip at IST.
Don't forget about the weather – thunderbolts and lightning on top of snow and ice makes for gate backlogs and people needing to be careful not to dent the plane. Speaking of denting, Vinny shares stories of jet bridge training – and systems designed to prevent accidental dents.

News Items:

  • Business Traveller article "United CEO puts getting late passengers on planes before on-time departures"
  • ch-aviation article "Scramble for Thomas Cook UK slots as Condor seeks new owner"

If you have a story of gate changes and jet bridges, a question or other experience that you would like to share, please email us at stories(at) or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Patreon. Show notes are available online at


NEWS ITEMS | United CEO puts getting late passengers on planes before on-time departures (03 October 2019)
"...In a perfect world, all flights would take off and land on time. In the real world, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz would rather see passengers make their connecting flights even if that means holding planes on the ground until travellers can get to the gate, CNBC reports..." | Scramble for Thomas Cook UK slots as Condor seeks new owner
(01 October 2019)
"...Wizz Air (W6, Budapest), Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow), and IAG International Airlines Group have expressed interest in slots held by defunct Thomas Cook Airlines UK (MT, Manchester Int'l) at London Gatwick airport, the Financial Times has reported.

"We are not interested in the airline. We are not interested in other assets but we have an interest in the airport slots of Thomas Cook at Gatwick," CEO of the Hungarian LCC József Váradi said.

Chief Executive Officer Shai Weiss told Bloomberg that Virgin Atlantic was also interested in Thomas Cook's slots at Manchester Int'l airport. Slots at Gatwick, while interesting, could be too pricey for the airline, although the airline would be tentatively interested in the night-time slots..." | British Airways owner IAG says strikes cost £121m
"...British Airways owner IAG has warned that its profits will be lower than expected this year, partly due to the impact of strikes by its pilots.

It said the strike earlier this month, in a row over pay and conditions, had cost it at least €137m (£121m)..."


  • Lightning
    • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Airports Council International (ACI) have 3 levels of precaution warning for lightning (Airside Safety Handbook Fourth Edition 2010 (PDF)) 
      • Level 1 - strong possibility of lightning or thunderstorms.
      • Level 2 - lightning activity within an 8 kilometre (5 mile) radius of the airport.
      • Level 3 - lightning activity within a 5 kilometre (3 mile) radius of the airport.
    • The Transportation Research Board indicates that various US airports and airlines have set their own guidelines for lightning detection (Airport Cooperative Research Program Report 8 "Lightning-Warning Systems for Use by Airports" (PDF) | 2008)
      • Generally yellow (level 2) indicates lightning activity within a 5 mile radius.
      • A red warning (level 3) indicates lightning within a 3 mile radius.
    • There are other companies providing lightning detection systems besides THOR GUARD. These include:
  • Thomas Cook



  •  What's in this experience? [00:00:47]
  • You arrive and your gate is not available. What's going on? [00:01:03]
  • A few definitions to start. [00:01:56]
  • The gate. [00:02:05]
  • The jet bridge. [00:02:16]
  • The ramp area. [00:02:27]
  • You have to think about an airport and how it's laid out. [00:02:48]
  • Domestic terminals. [00:03:26]
  • What's going to happen if you mix different passenger types. [00:04:03]
  • History of US preclearance problems at YYZ when it first started with mixing. [00:05:59]
  • What an airport needs to do with infrastructure to prevent mixing. [00:06:32]
  • Swing gates. [00:07:35]
  • Ramp setup. [00:09:06]
  • Last minute gate changes from a ramp perspective. [00:10:52]
  • Gate requirements for baggage from international flights. [00:12:32]
  • The people needed to bring a plane to gate. [00:13:53]
  • What's happening inside the terminal when a switch happens. [00:15:42]
  • Jet bridge sizes and configurations. [00:19:57]
  • The old "moon buggy" mobile lounges at IAD and YEG. [00:20:27]
  • Vinny's 380 two-level gate experience at FRA. [00:24:20]
  • Gate experiences at remote parking positions. [00:25:18]
  • Geoff's narrow body plane parking experience at DPS. [00:26:07]
  • Vinny had another tight gate connection experience with a bus at FRA. [00:26:53]
  • Revisiting Vinny's bus from the maintenance hanger at IST. [00:29:11]
  • Weather affecting your gates. [00:30:32]
  • Out of control vehicle on the ramp at ORD. [00:31:33]
  • What happens when the jet bridge gets stuck?. [00:33:25]
  • THOR GUARD lightning warning system. [00:34:21]
  • Learning points. [00:37:54]
  • News Items. [00:39:17]
    • United CEO puts getting late passengers on planes before on-time departures. [00:39:24]
    • Bankruptcy of Thomas Cook and scooping of LGW landing slots. [00:42:13]
    • BA pilot strike over. [00:44:46]
  • Show wrap-up. [00:45:04]