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||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)
A gate in aviation is a long, movable, "bridge" that allows passengers to embark and disembark their aircraft.
- Jetway bridges
- Air stairs, either built into the aircraft or from a mobile vehicle
- Mobile lounges
- Leaving the aircraft via mobile steps and walking across the apron into or from the terminal building
For most gates in US or Canadian domestic airports, the door opens to a single level jetway which leads to the aircraft door. For international airports, certain gates must be configured to accept arriving international passengers. The configuration varies from airport to airport but usually, the door leading to the gate is moved further into the terminal, and will open to a room, where the passengers will pass through on their way to the aircraft. Inside the room will be an escalator leading to customs and immigration on a different level. When the gate is being used for departures or domestic arrivals, the door leading to the waiting area will be opened and usually the escalators will be blocked off, thus passengers will not mistakenly wander into customs and immigration. For an international arrival, the door leading to the waiting area is simply closed, and passengers are directed to the escalators for immigration/customs. The general rule in the US and Canada for international flights is that any gate may host a departing international aircraft, but only internationally configured gates may host international arriving aircraft. This makes for some problems in some airports like Chicago O'Hare where the two major tenants, United and American, are forced to use Terminal 5 for international arrivals, and then tow their planes back to their own terminals for subsequent flights, causing valuable gate space at Terminal 5 to be used up.
The equipment is either airport or airline property, in most cases airport infrastructure.