Air Canada: Seat "GTE" on Ticket/Boarding Pass

Seat GTE Simple Answer

This means that Air Canada is going to assign you a seat at the gate, but it could mean a lot more than that.

Air Canada Seat GTE More Complicated Answer

  • Some small planes (like the 20 seater commuter planes) don't even assign seats
  • The flight was undersold/oversold and they moved to a different sized plane and therefore all of the old seat assignments don't work
  • Most likely answer: They don't have enough seats for the flight you're supposed to be on and they're hoping someone doesn't show up.
Personal experience: I did the self-check in at the airport, probably 2.5 hours or so before the domestic flight. The self check-in machine just happily prints you a potentially worthless ticket without notifying you of its implications.

Searching online for what the heck Air Canada's seat GTE means just results in case reports from bloggers rather than something more official from Air Canada, ie: their website doesn't address this FAQ.

PLEASE POST HERE WITH YOUR EXPERIENCES. You can help other people, as I found it hard to find a good answer of what this could have meant, good or bad.   

The employees at the luggage check-in desk didn't mention anything about it. While asking at the desk by the boarding area, they just said that our seat will get assigned later. After a short while, they paged a set of names, and I suspect that being the first in that line probably meant that I got on that flight while those that showed up after may have been bumped.

Lesson learned: do the online web check in FAR IN ADVANCE OF YOUR FLIGHT, even though it overall saves you zero time if you're going to be checking luggage anyway (at least that's how it works in Montreal). Seat selection is free when you do it online within 24 hours of your flight, so be at a computer (or smartphone) 24 hours before your flight, and get first dibs on available seats, guaranteeing you a seat, and perhaps a more preferred one too. This should work for the next 20 years, until everyone starts using the same trick.

Supposedly it doesn't matter whether you checked-in online, or at the counter, nor when you checked-in. Supposedly it all comes down to what your status is with Air Canada. If you're a big customer, they probably give you preferential treatment. If you got the cheapest fare possible, they see that you likely have no loyalty, and might bump you because AC has the least to lose that way.

All in all, it worked out well for me, but it would have been nicer to be in the loop for what's going on with the flight I paid for and easier to find out the info when I went searching for it.

What happened when you were assigned GTE?
Do you know how someone could decrease their chances of getting "GTE"?

GTE - What to expect

Got GTE on my flight from Calgary to Vancouver I had checked in the night before the morning flight and did not have the option to pick my seat. When I checked my bags they said I was on standby and to go to the Gate Counter. It's best to do this as soon as you get through security I was there well before boarding and they already had about 10 or more people on Stand-by. I ended up getting bumped twice and got $10 food voucher for each and they took my info down and said that they are going to send me a cheque for $800 because I was denied boarding. I don't have my luggage yet and have been in Vancouver for about 8 hrs, but it is supposed to delivered tonight.

Just assigned a new seat

I had GTE on my boarding pass from Ottawa to Winnipeg. Thankfully it just meant they needed to assign me a new seat.

I noticed my ticket had seat

I noticed my ticket had seat GTE listed on my flight from Toronto to saint john so I Googled what that meant. . I was worried reading these comments. as I was reading these they called me to their booth and gave me a new ticket with a seat.

Not sure what's happening

I'm travelling with 3 other people and 2 have GTE on their online-check-in seat. Trying to get this fixed...

And what happened? that's

And what happened?

that's another big ramification of the "status" based system for bumping: it can break up groups of passengers. Or maybe AC avoids this somehow by giving each member of a group the same status?

My mom was on her way to

My mom was on her way to Australia form Toronto. Her original flight from Toronto to Vancouver was showing as "GTE" when I did the online check in for her. They also bumped her. I guess connecting flight or travelling distance doesn't matter either. The worse thing is that they claim that they've called her name 3 times and she did not come forward, which is totally untrue. My mom was right beside them waiting for the whole time and have went to ask and show them her boarding pass and passport. She is now hours delayed from her original schedule and her luggage is also lost somewhere. We have bought her ticket from Expedia. It was cheaper than if we were to book for the same flight on other days, which we thought is due to flying out on New Year's Eve. I just hope that she gets onto her rescheduled connecting bus on time. I can't believe AC was our "preferred" airline. After this, I'll definitely be avoiding taking AC.

Question asked to Air Canada

Just for reference, I have sent the following query to Air Canada:



Under what conditions does a seat number "GTE" get assigned to a customer?

How does Air Canada decide which "GTE" customers actually get on that flight, and which do not?

I would appreciate a reply in both of Canada's Official Languages.


Daniel Matan


I'm especially interested in what they say about the second question. I'll be sure to post their reply.

Checking in online as soon as

Checking in online as soon as possible (24 hours before the flight) will not help you at all. I checked in for my flight online 10 min after the check-in opened, but when I checked my bag at the airport I noticed they added a 'stand-by' label to my luggage and I asked why. It turned out that even though I had a boarding pass with a seat, I had been downgraded to 'GTE'. The boarding pass I printed at home was worthless, but if I hadn't checked a bag, I would have never known I didn't have a seat.

So, lesson is, even if you check in online super early you can be bumped (this was right before Christmas, and I did have the cheap tango fare). Even if you check-in online, you should re-print your boarding pass at the airport to check. the end, I was given a standby seat on a different flight one hour later... but they also lost my luggage for 3 days.

Assigned GTE seat today....

Flying from Charlottetown, PE to Toronto, ON today... when I arrived to check in @ the Charlottetown airport, I was handed a boarding pass with cabin code Y and 'GTE' listed for my seat. The clerk advised me that I definitely had a seat - and it would be assigned to me @ the gate.

While waiting for the Gate I was paged and given a new boarding pass, now with J listed for cabin code and 'ML*1' listed under Remarks.

At no time did I request an upgrade, however did get upgraded to Executive First class. From what I can tell, because I was travelling through work (which is a high revenue client for Air Canada), I was upgraded over anyone else, including some guy who actually did request an upgrade.

It's a common misconception

It's a common misconception that people are bumped from flights in a last-checked-in-first-bumped fashion.

This is not the case. Airlines use a variety of factors to determine the bump order. Your airline status, if you have a connecting flight, if the connecting flight is international, etc... all factor into the decision.

I see people all the time at the gate getting bumped and I hear them saying, "But I checked in hours ago!" - doesn't matter.

They'll happily bump you and refund your $35 reserved seat if it keeps a Super-Elite on the flight.

The fee is a Seat-Selection fee, not a seat-guarantee.

The more I think about it,

The more I think about it, the more I agree with you. The airlines have value and customer retention costs down to a science, and you're likely right on this.

Of course, all other things being equal (same status, same connecting flight status, same fare paid, same blah), how would they determine who gets bumped? Randomly? Or do they put a value on everybody and everything down to the 7th decimal place, so as to avoid losing a customer that could garner them 1/10th of a cent in additional profit at the end of the year?

"Greatest Traveler Ever" :S

I just flew from Vancouver to Toronto last week and my ticket had a seat number, my dad had booked the ticket with areoplan so i don't know if that got me a seat or not. But when i was waiting at the gate the attendant was asking for all the GTE passengers to come up to the counter. He referred to them as "greatest travelers ever" And even after looking at this I'm still confused. They were all called up before the boarding announcement

Just got assigned GTE

So I just checked in online about 20 hours in advance, and got GTE. I am traveling alone with no checked luggage, so that may be it... It's probably either a busy end of day Calgary to Vancouver flight (during rush hour)... Damn you AC!!!

pah, 24h online check-in won't necessarily help

Nothing helped. We had two different booking codes, so I called Lufthansa, where we booked our flights to get a seat next to each other. It was an AC code share. Lufthansa apparently had no access to AC's seat selection, so I called AC. They couldn't help us either since we booked with Lufthansa.
Best advise: check in 24h early.
So we did, and got the GTE.
They started boarding before they finally assigned us a seat.
This was the worst experience ever. No explanation given. And we found later on our luggage the tag "stand by luggage"
Booked 3 months in advance, called and online check-in - what else is necessary?
No - and the tickets where not of the cheap kind.


This is odd. I just booked an

This is odd. I just booked an AC codeshare flight through Lufthansa, because it was $70 cheaper through Lufthansa (and I may get better points too), but in the email I got from Lufthansa, it looks like a seat has already been assigned to me. I hope I don't have any problems!
P.S. my flight is direct from Toronto-->Munich. What was your flight? Did you get bumped, or did you get your original flight? Did your luggage get delayed? What class of tickets did you book?

Not allowed to board

On the 11th June 2012 I got a boarding pass out of the self-checkin machine in Toronto two hours before a flight, and never noticed anything about the seat, as I didn't care where I sat. Once I tried to go through the gate, they shuffled me to the side and I noticed the GTE. I was not allowed to board as the plane was oversold. I was told it was `because of my ticket type', whatever that means. Perhaps because I also didn't check luggage and was travelling alone so was a prime candidate to bump. So, they said they'd `try' to get me on a later plane, which was in 4 hours time. Since my return ticket was of the same type, and a Friday evening, and I was already a day late for a conference, I cancelled. I had no desire to sit in the airport for hours. They offered me a $200 voucher which is transferable, so I'll give that to someone else as I won't use AC in future if I can help it. Supposedly my tickets are now 100% refundable, but I'm about to start what I suspect is a nightmare to get that refund.

The whole time I was treated like scum. The insinuation was that because I didn't buy an expensive ticket, book a seat, a meal, and otherwise get nickled and dimed, I really didn't deserve to fly on this plane. So fine, I'll try other airlines -- but then I suspect they're pretty much as bad.....

I suspect it doesn't make a

I suspect it doesn't make a difference whether you buy a meal or not, but they probably rarely bump people that get "Plus" or above premium tickets.

My advice is to do the web check-in as soon as you are eligible to do so (24 hours before your flight leaves). It's the people that check-in at the airport, even hours before their flight, that are the most likely to get stuck.

Of course, one day, everyone will web check-in, and then you'll be at risk of getting stuck unless you pay up.

GTE on boarding pass

On June 26, for domestic flight on a CRJ-75, I printed boarding pass and GTE shows up. At the airport the next day, checking in 90 minutes before ETD, I was told I was on stand-by. Although it finally worked out that I took the flight, it appears that if I had paid the little extra ($20 or $30, depending on the "quality of the seat) for a selecting a seat when I purchased the ticket, I would not have been put on stand-by when I checked in. It was never explicitly stated that selecting a seat (for $20 or $30) at the time of purchase, would give me priority over another traveller who doesn't care what seat is assigned. Another hidden cost...

On Air Canada, you can choose

On Air Canada, you can choose your seat for free up to 24 hours before your flight, so the trick is to web check-in as soon as it hits 24 hours before your scheduled flight to guarantee that you get a seat.

Did you checkin online, choose a seat, and then get told you're GTE when you got to the airport anyway? Perhaps they changed which plane they were going to be flying on?

Who knows if Air Canada would bump 81 passengers off of a 100 seat aircraft and put them on a 80 passenger aircraft and deliberately bump 1 person (or more) to save a few bucks.

I do recall once being on a near-empty Vancouver-->Toronto flight, I guess they didn't have any smaller planes available that could fly the distance, nor could they consolidate it with another flight around the same time. I wish they paid me off to take a later flight and cancel the whole flight :)

GTE Air Canada

You can no longer book your seat in advance unless you pay the extra $35 (?) to pre book your seat. I just flew Nanaimo to Ottawa yesterday. Almost got bumped off because I had a GTE boarding pass. I asked for an explanation and was told, to my face, and point blank, if you don't pre book your seat (ie pay the $35) you are no longer guaranteed a seat, even if you pay for your ticket (as I did) 2 months in advance. When I commented that this was blackmail the girl said basically yes guess it is then smirked at me. I got my seat but I was furious. Not only at the possibility of not getting on the flight but at the total disrespect and lack of concern on the part of the staff. This can't be legal. It's extortion.

I still believe that you can

I still believe that you can check-in via the web within 24 hours of your flight's departure. This means that you should check-in for your flight right at the 24-hours-before-your-flight point and then you can choose a seat, for free. Unless EVERYONE paid the $35 to pre-book a seat, you should guarantee yourself a seat by doing this.

It's the people that only check-in at the airport (even if it's 2.5 hours in advance) that get stuck, because all of the $35-to-pre-book and checked-in-over-the-web-24-hours-ago people already selected seats.

I went to the customer office

I went to the customer office center and changed it to the next day's flight. They also offer a free room in Holiday Inn hotel for 1 night

I'd like to think if you hold

I'd like to think if you hold out, you can get more out of them than that. A free night should be the minimum for a one-day delay, you could probably bargain a free flight or some kind of credit/upgrade on top of that.

If anyone has any other experiences with what they've been able to negotiate on an unfulfilled GTE ticket, please post your results.

I was also given GTE and was

I was also given GTE and was assigned a crew member's seat. I guess the buggers overslold the seats on my flight and I had one of the courtesy seats for pilots, or cabin staff....

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