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Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-12-2006, 05:33 PM   #1
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Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

I was flying on US Air on Thursday evening and was connecting through Charlotte. A huge thunderstorm developed over the city, and the field was closed for about 90 minutes. Incoming aircraft (mine included) diverted to other airports to take on fuel, then returned to Charlotte. Thing were a mess, and most folks missed their connections and had to spend the night.

It's amazing how unreasonable and stupid the stranded passengers got, and the abuse they piled on the customer service reps. There's no way I could do that job--placating a bunch of unreasonable crybabies and risk getting fired if you tell just one person what he really needs to be told.

Among the amazing comments:
-- "Why didn't you hold the departing airplanes here so everyone could make their conections?" (Maybe because the people on THOSE planes would have missed their conections then? Or maybe because the crews would run out of legal duty day and we'd have nobody to fly the airplanes?)

-- "I've been flying for 12 hours already, and I have a meeting first thing in the morning. You have to get me there tonight!" (Maybe you should rent a car and try to make it. Or, maybe if it is absolutely critical to be at a do-or-die meeting you should put a little extra time into your schedule. Anyway, what do you expect the passenger servce person to do--build you an airplane and fly you to your destination tonight? THERE ARE NO FLIGHTS GOING THERE THIS EVENING, MISTER)

-- "I've flown through blizzards before. The pilots wouldn't fly here just because it was raining? (Obviously you don't know anything about how airplanes actually get into the air and stay there, or how the little "breezes" inside a thunderstorm might influence same.)

-- I've had it! US Airways is incompetent!! This would never happen on Delta!! I'm never flying with you again!! (Good!! I fly with US Air all the time, and will be very hapy if you aren't on the plane demanding this or that from the flight attendant. Oh, and this exact same thing happened to me in Atlanta 6 months ago--I was flying Delta.)

Sorry, just a rant and a vent here. I hope that I can learn from the (bad) example set by others that not every inconvenience is a crisis, that sometimes s**t hapens, and that how I behave toward others at times like that says a lot about me.

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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-12-2006, 06:01 PM   #2
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

You have to realize they are in control of their emotions as opposed to their angry customers. They are used to it....

They show up to work with a Zen like appoach. They are ready for it and derive great pleasure out of smiling while some idiot is ranting and raving in front of them.

I have worked with "custome service" people and they are well aware of their role in the game.
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-12-2006, 06:20 PM   #3
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

Yeah, there's nothing like witnessing some true morons to make you (me) resolve not to be one, eh?

I flew back from CA yesterday, about 24 hrs after the "no liquids" rule was put into effect, and I was amazed at how smoothly things flowed. We arrived over 2 hours early expecting disaster, but Southwest and TSA had apparently called in every extra employee they had, because we actually had bags checked in and were at our gate in less than 30 minutes - nearly as fast as a usual flight.

The amazing thing was that we didn't encounter anyone throwing a hissy fit or being unreasonable in any way. I guess the renewed threat of being blown up in mid-air sort of makes having to throw away your sunscreen seem relatively trivial.
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-12-2006, 08:10 PM   #4
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

I should add that the idiots were in the minority. A few of us had a laugh or two as the screamers spun themselves up through the ceiling. I also shared a cab and some good conversation with some fine folks from Virginia who were just eager to make the best of things.
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-12-2006, 09:56 PM   #5
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
...*US Airways is incompetent!!* ...
*
Incompentent or not, I avoid flying US Airways because they don't have frequent service to my destination. Flew them once, they missed my connection and declined to put me on another carrier that would have gotten me to my destination at a reasonable hour. I sat in Cinci for three + hours waiting for THEIR next flight ... NEVER AGAIN!
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-13-2006, 08:03 AM   #6
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem

It's amazing how unreasonable and stupid the stranded passengers got, and the abuse they piled on the customer service reps.* There's no way I could do that job--placating a bunch of unreasonable crybabies and risk getting fired if you tell just one person what he really needs to be told.
I fly alot.* Tomorrow will be my 71st flight since Feb and I hear what you are saying.* Things do happen from time to time and I find that for the most part the biggest complainers are

1.* The folks that never fly
2.* The folks that think they are more important than anyone on the planet (type A)

The other day I was in connecting through Denver and flights were delayed due to weather.* So I was at the customer service desk behind this guy who was on a rampage about this gate agent that "looked" at him funny.* He went on and on.* The customer service rep listened apologized but the guy wouldn't let it go.* She finally asked him to step to the side and she would get with him.* So I stepped up.* Simply asked her to check my other options to Dulles and she immediately changed my flight, upgraded my seat, and gave me a meal coupon for the delay.* The complainer was watching all of this and his jaw about hit the ground.* I said thank you and as I began to walk off he asked the agent why she did that for me.* Her reply was, well that passenger was nice and patient.

I view talking to the gate agents or customer reps like going to the DMV.* They can be nice to you or can make your life miserable.* There is no way I would ever want that job and you do catch more flies with honey than syrup.

Tomcat98
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-13-2006, 08:20 AM   #7
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

On the flip side of the OP, it's my belief that airline service reps are trained to lie to the customer when they feel a need to do so.* Once my wife and I were told that we'd have to get our boarding passes at the gate (this was before you had to show passes to get to the concourses).* When we get to the gate, we find that they cannot issue passes there -- they didn't even have a computer.* What the original agent had done was push us away to avoid telling us the flight was overbooked.
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-13-2006, 08:39 AM   #8
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

RtR,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert the Red
On the flip side of the OP, it's my belief that airline service reps are trained to lie to the customer when they feel a need to do so.
- Of course I wasn't there, so I can't comment on your specific situation--it probably happened just as you say. I do wonder why it would be airline policy to deliberately send customers to the wrong desk knowing that they'd just need to return to the ticket desk (or "special services") a few minutes later and that they'd be even more upset at that time, and that the airline woud have wasted employee time in handling the same customer three times instead of once. I would think it is more likely that a (bad) individual ticket agent might do that to avoid the personal discomfort of dealing with a troublesome situation, but I can't see that this would be airline policy and that they'd "train" folks to do it.

- I agree that airline employees, like those in every business, "manage information" to their own benefit and for the benefit of their company. Just like a hotel clerk or the folks at the rental car counter. If you walk up to the counter and ask how much a room or a car costs, they'll quote you a rate. But it will be higher than the rate you could get at the same time by going online to book or by using readly availabe discount codes. Are they lying?

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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-13-2006, 11:47 AM   #9
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert the Red
On the flip side of the OP, it's my belief that airline service reps are trained to lie to the customer when they feel a need to do so.
To quote Goethe: "Misunderstandings and neglect occasion more mischief in the world than even malice and wickedness. At all events, the two latter are of less frequent occurrence", which was later compressed by Hanlon into "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"*
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-13-2006, 12:20 PM   #10
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

I hesitate to follow such profundity!

I don't travel all that much (yet. But ER awaits). However I have learned there is a middle ground with the customer service folk. If you are not at least a little assertive and insistent, you get the basic treatment.

After one horrific travel experience, I felt I was entitled to some compensation. To make a long story short, I was originally told that the result I requested (a flight to my hometown since my "ride" waited at the airport only 4 hours then left me) was completely impossible. After a short discussion with a supervisor, it was granted with little fuss.

The key, I've found, is to be polite but firm and to insist on a specific solution which is within the realm of possibility.
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-13-2006, 01:07 PM   #11
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

Quote:
specific solution which is within the realm of possibility
That must mean that "Could you kindly pull your head out of your a$$?" is not acceptable... :P
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-13-2006, 02:28 PM   #12
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

Probably not.
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job
Old 08-13-2006, 03:01 PM   #13
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Re: Airline customer service rep--what a terrible job

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem


* -- I've had it!* *US Airways is incompetent!!* This would never happen on Delta!!* I'm never flying with you again!!* (Good!!* I fly with US Air all the time, and will be very hapy if you aren't on the plane demanding this or that from the flight attendant.* Oh, and this exact same thing happened to me in Atlanta 6 months ago--I was flying Delta.)
*

I was with you until you said US Airways... I took a flight from them, going to Montreal... thru Philidelphia... got to Phily on time... the other plane was a bit late... they kept us there... and kept us.. and kept us... we asked... yes, it is coming... after 5 hours, and now one in the morning... no plane... and we can not get you a flight tomorrow morning (OK... now what)...

AND, we can not get your bags.. but don't worry, they will be there when you land!! (and how do you know... they are NOT even on any plane right now!!!) We did get a hotel voucher with a taxi voucher.. but nobody wanted to honor them as this was just before bankruptcy..

So, get to the airport at 6AM... fly to ? I forget which city.. transfer, fly to Montreal.... NO BAGS... fill out paperwork... which took a couple of hours (why) ...go to hotel... now, we have a wedding to go to that night... but no bags.. so I go in my clothes I wore on the plane...

It took them 4 days to find the bags... any compensation for having to buy stuff that were in the bags Nope.. your problem...

And NONE of this was due to weather..

Now, I did not rant at any of the people... just sometimes asked pointed questions as I got stupid remarks back from them...
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