In airline parlance, a "gate agent" is a person who handles administrative tasks like check-in and seat assignment at the gate. A ticket agent does corresponding work from the ticket counter at the front of the terminal, while a res agent does it from an underground bunker full of telephones. The training for the three positions is more or less the same, and although the jobs vary considerably in the exact tasks being performed, the basic skills are identical.

Gate agents tend to be the worst airline employees of all when it comes to customer service. This is because they are the ones generally responsible for notifying passengers about delays and cancellations, as well as telling late passengers that they can't board. Needless to say, they get screamed at a lot, and this tends to make them more prone to be nasty to passengers in return. Being polite to the gate agent can do wonders in obtaining a good seat or even an upgrade.