I was at Brussels airport yesterday and was surprised that gates information are not published until (exactly) 15 minutes before boarding time. The panel says

Relax, gate info at 16:20

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So I went to the gate as soon as it was known, and the aircraft was already there, connected to the passenger boarding bridge. Meaning the gate was definitely known for some time before it is published!

Then I queried some information from the staff ; and indeed, gate information is always only published 15 minutes before boarding time.

The only reason I could think of is BRU wants people to spend time in shops...

Is there another reason for not informing gate details earlier? (which is a bit annoying)

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    Welcome to Av.SE. Interesting question. I'm okay leaving it open here, although it may be a better fit at Travel.SE, which tends to deal more with passenger issues. – Ralph J May 24 '19 at 13:14
  • I think the specific answer to the question would determine if the post aviation related. For example, scheduling of landing slots (total hypothetical). I do get the impression it is more to guide travelers behavior though, either to keep people shopping like you said, or to prevent travelers from crowding around a gate too early. – zymhan May 24 '19 at 13:18
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    Perhaps there is limited seating capacity available near the gates and they try to keep everybody at the central area for as long as possible (where passengers can spend their money shopping, a major source of income for airports) – DeltaLima May 24 '19 at 13:53
  • As an aside, I've seen Heathrow terminal 3 do this on a few occasions as well, sometimes leaving 30 minutes to do a 20 minute walk to the gate, so it's not unique to Brussels – qechua May 24 '19 at 14:39
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    In my experience, this is normal (at least in Europe). I get to the airport and check for what time my gate will be announced rather than looking for a specific time, then go about whatever I want to do in the airport. I find it odd in North America that I can check in a day in advance and I get told the gate immediately! – Richard May 24 '19 at 15:05

In terms of airport operations the gate may only be published when the airport is sure of which gate its going to be. Some times they know that far in advance if a single airframe is turned around at a given gate it may land, connect up, de-plane its current passengers, get cleaned, then board the new flight. But this is not always the case. If its the first flight of the day for an aircraft they may not know the gate until the aircraft is towed/powered there shortly before the flight. If an airframe has a mechanical issue or is running late enough and the airline has another airframe to swap in the gate may change at the last minute. To make this all simpler the airport may simply wait until they are sure before doing anything.

With all this in mind Im sure someone at the airport has analyzed the business implications of this as well....

  • On a recent flight through Sea-Tac, my departure gate changed 3 times from what was published 24-or-so-hours prior to departure. I was probably one of the few passengers who realized it, however, as the final change was more than 2 hours before boarding. I happened to have a fun 5 hour layover, so I was checking the departure boards, Flight Aware and FlightRadar24 on a somewhat regular basis out of sheer boredom. (Had the outbound leg gate change from what was announced pre-flight to post-landing. 3 hours to get from N2 to N2 - it was tough! Maybe it's just Sea-Tac...) – FreeMan May 24 '19 at 15:21

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