What To Expect If Your Boarding Pass Says 'See Agent' On It

There are a lot of codes that can appear on your boarding pass, and you may wonder what they all mean. You could see something like SSSS on your boarding pass, which may mean you need a secondary screening at security, or your ticket might feature the FQTV code, meaning you're a frequent traveler. Codes themselves may not alarm you, but you wouldn't be alone if you worried about finding "see agent" on that slip of paper that permits you to get on the plane. There are several reasons you might see this on your boarding pass. For example, you may have booked a basic economy fare and don't have a seat assignment (you also might see "seat assigned at gate" when this happens), or the flight could be oversold or you may be required to have your travel documents checked again. 


There are other things that can come up like seats being blocked out for other travelers or a change in your travel plans. While it's always best to approach anything to do with travel in a calm manner, it's no surprise that you'd be concerned about this. We'll explain each reason for this note and what you can do about it, and this information might even benefit you in the end. 

Basic economy and oversold flights

"See agent" or even "this is not a boarding pass" notes can be worrisome. That goes double for when you get to the airport and print your boarding pass (which is always best) as there is little time before your flight departs. One reason is that you may have booked a basic economy fare. You might not realize it if you used a travel comparison site like Orbitz or Expedia. With some airlines, that fare means your seat is assigned at the gate. If you're worried, call the airline. They may be able to do it over the phone. 


It's also possible your airline has oversold the flight. It doesn't seem fair that they can do that when you've paid for a ticket. However, there are often cancelations or no-shows and they need to fill empty seats. Scott Keyes of Scott's Cheap Flights told Time, "Airlines make their best educated guess at how many people they think are going to show up for that flight based on historical standards." When it doesn't work and it's overbooked, you may be asked to volunteer to take a different flight. If no one does, you could be offered money, vouchers for travel, or gift cards. 

If you don't have an assigned seat, it's possible you could be bumped. You will usually be compensated, though the Department of Transportation allows certain exceptions like aircraft changes or weight/balance issues for safety reasons.


Document checks, codesharing, and blocked seats

Another reason you might have "see agent" on your boarding pass is that you're flying standby. You can ask the gate agent for a seat assignment if you make it on, but usually you'll see that on the gate's media board. If you're flying internationally, you may also get the message because a gate agent has to verify your travel documents like visas and passports before you board. It can also happen if your travel plans have changed or if there is a computer glitch, and they need to verify that everything is in order. 


Codesharing is another thing that can cause this boarding pass note. That means another airline has partnered up with the one you booked through. The original airline can't book your seats on another airline's website, so you may be assigned there at the gate. Again, this is a situation where calling the airline might take care of this for you before you leave for the airport. 

Finally, sometimes an airline blocks seats off for people with infants, crew members, or those with mobility issues. Priority seats like those with more legroom or exit rows could be blocked off, and if they aren't sold, they may open up at the gate. Be friendly and not pushy with the gate agent, and you might end up with a better seat than you would have had in the first place.