Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Airline layoffs mean more waiting for you

Continental lays off 3000 workers! United cuts 1400 from its payroll! US Airways lays off 600. American Airlines reduces workforce by 1600!

It's a trying time to be a customer service agent but it will be even more trying for you the passenger. If you're the type of passenger who thinks CSAs are equivalent to the gatekeeper from hell, you're probably happy that there will be less of us to hassle you and you can always use the kiosk to check-in. However, you're checking in and the kiosk says "Unable to process, please see an Agent" Then what? Yes, you can call your travel agent, but what if the office is closed when the problem occurs. Or what if you bought your ticket from Orbitz or Cheaptickets or Travelocity? You will have to go to the dreaded "Full Service Line" and the line is meandering around the terminal...and you have to start boarding in 15 minutes.

Yes, things do go wrong and it's that time that you realize how much the airline industry has downsized when there's only one of us and 500 of you waiting on line.

Please realize when you're on that line that we will do the best we can to fix your ticket. When you're in line and in a panic because you don't want to miss your flight and the agent is just talking on the phone while a passenger is standing in front of her, we're not calling our mother-- we're calling our support desk. We can only service one passenger at a time and some problems take longer than others. It's not that we don't care but we do feel the huge anxiety emanating from all of you but we can only help one passenger at a time.

So what can you do. Here are some tips:

1. Check-in online at the airline website. Things usually go well and most likely you just have to go to the gate when you arrive at the airport (unless you have to check-in a bag). If it does not go well online, then call the 800 number for customer service of your airline to see if you can clear it up before you go to the airport. Please don't forget to print your boarding pass.
2. When you come to the airport know at least three things: your full name as stated on your ticket, your connection city or destination, and what time you are supposed to leave. You would be surprised at how many idiots (I'm sorry but I have to think that) who come up to me to check in and don't know where they are going or what time. People, there are many flights at different times to different cities, we need all three above information to locate your ticket. If you have a 6-digit confirmation number or locator number or itinerary number, it makes things that much easier for us.
3. Bring the credit card that you used to buy the ticket, sometimes we can use that to locate your itinerary.
4. If you do have a problem with your ticket, get to the airport early so that you have extra time to wait for a CSA and extra time for the CSA to resolve your issue and still make your flight.
5. Bring the customer service number of your ticketing service, you might need it. Then while you are waiting in line you can give Expedia or Priceline a call to see if they can resolve your issue.
6. If you found out at the airport that you have a problem when you tried to check in at the kiosk and you only have 15 minutes until you board your flight, then consider the possibility that you might not make it to the flight and try to be flexible and open to the options to resolve your problem.
7. Have patience and bring some bottled water and some snacks to tide you over while you are waiting. We really do appreciate your patience and we will give you as much time as needed to solve your issue.
8. Problems are usually a technical issue so don't get mad at us, we're trying to help you get to where you want to go and we will do what we can to help you.

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