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MIflyer12
Topic Author
Posts: 10475
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 3:41 pm

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/12/trav ... covid.html

275 Minutes on Hold: Why Airline Customer Service Still Can’t Keep Up

NYT's major points:

1. Hiring - but it's hard to higher for a lot of service positions right now. (Which leads to #2)

2. Airlines wages for these positions aren't high enough for the pressure and system complexity to be learned. AA starts at $13.05, WN at $15; DL declined to answer.

3. Number of phone res employees isn't the issue - it's deployment of staff (meaning adding GA staff) that will provide the solution.

Dean Headley, the co-author of Airline Quality Rating from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan., who had not tried the new system, said it’s symbolic of a longstanding trend throughout the airline industry.

“They are trying to work with technology instead of staffing up with people that can answer the damn phone,” he said.

He also offered a fourth theory why airlines are unlikely to fix call wait times any time soon: “They believe there is always another person who will buy that ticket and that’s probably not altogether incorrect,” he said.


I would lean heavily on technology for this, to cut down the number of people who need to be served by phone.

1. If you can book online or app, the FTC should demand that carriers provide a quick method to get a refund for carrier-cancelled flights booked directly with the airline, online or by app.

2. Rebooking delayed and cancelled flights should be enabled online and by app:

a. Even for award tickets
b. Even with a routing change
c. Even to alternate destinations
d. Irrespective of booking fare code (but not cabin)
e. For all or just part of the party in the same PNR

3. Meal and hotel vouchers should be given automatically online and by app (perhaps as PDFs). Major airports should also have kiosks that spit them out. How long ago did DL do this? At least a decade, right?

4. Carriers should enable a 'baggage recall' function online and by app, for the times you've checked a bag but then find your flight delayed or cancelled and want to make alternate arrangements. There should be a mandatory push message: Your bag is now available in the baggage service office at XXX.

Other ideas?
 
Cubsrule
Posts: 15498
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 12:13 pm

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 4:41 pm

I like your ideas. A couple of thoughts:

MIflyer12 wrote:
1. If you can book online or app, the FTC should demand that carriers provide a quick method to get a refund for carrier-cancelled flights booked directly with the airline, online or by app.


The majors' refund infrastructure varies quite a lot for customer canceled flights today. Refunds on WN are automated, and they're quick (often 1-2 days). I believe AA still has a manual process with the staff located in ELP. DL and UA are somewhere in the middle. It stands to reason that the back-end infrastructure for carrier-cancelled flights likewise differs between carriers.

MIflyer12 wrote:
2. Rebooking delayed and cancelled flights should be enabled online and by app:

a. Even for award tickets
b. Even with a routing change
c. Even to alternate destinations
d. Irrespective of booking fare code (but not cabin)
e. For all or just part of the party in the same PNR


Airport staffing is part of the equation here too. My last rebooking for a delayed flight was on WN; when the projected arrival time crossed the 0200 threshold, we decided to give up and try again in the morning. That proved to be a good choice. But despite being a fairly savvy customer, I didn't even try to do it myself. I just approached the gate agent, for whose help I didn't even have to wait, and she rebooked and generated boarding passes in two or three minutes. I couldn't have done much better time-wise myself even if I had been permitted to make the change, but that's only because there was a capable agent readily available.
 
RJNUT
Posts: 1995
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 1999 1:58 am

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 5:13 pm

since the elimination of change fees, things have simplified somewhat for online changes. Airline need to further de-complicate their offerings to reflect the staffing realities and declining knowledge base of archaic fare rules and booking formats.
 
ucdtim17
Posts: 659
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:38 pm

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 5:35 pm

It doesn't seem like rocket science to program rules into the website/app to allow people to update their own reservations without needing to spend 4 hours waiting for a person. If someone's flight to EWR is cancelled, why can't they figure out how to offer either a refund or alternate routing to EWR/LGA/JFK within x number of hours of the original flight? That seems a lot simpler and cheaper than paying enough to hire enough human beings to make all these changes manually.
 
PSAatSAN4Ever
Posts: 1339
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:38 pm

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 5:43 pm

I am sorry to hear that some airline executives are still hoping "the problem magically takes care of itself". We know that doesn't happen, but the inability to deal with even the slightest disruption is indicative of a company that cares ONLY for short-term profits and not long-term sustainability. I know we've beaten that horse to death here, but it is worth mentioning again.

My recent experiences, however, with United Airlines have been completely the opposite. Our family had multiple itinerary changes that were handled over the phone quickly and easily. My mom was planning on visiting a friend in Denver, then we were going to meet her at Denver to continue to a family reunion in Arkansas. Her itinerary was BFL-DEN, then DEN-LIT and LIT-DEN-BFL on the return. Our itinerary was SAN-DEN-LIT and LIT-DEN-SAN.

Well, United changed the DEN-LIT flight to the earliest eastbound bank, which meant we wouldn't be able to meet mom in Denver, as we couldn't get there in time for that flight. So we called and re-routed ourselves to the later flight. Handled in less than ten minutes total!

Then the Denver trip for mom was cancelled (the friend is too ill for a visit). So, another itinerary change: this time, we just decided to have mom come to San Diego (the hardest part of the trip!), and the three of us would do SAN-IAH-LIT roundtrip. Again, we called, and with our knowledge of what flights and seats we wanted, we were done in less than half an hour. Flights, seats, and additional costs (not a lot, but we upgraded to E+) were all confirmed on the phone AND by e-mail.

And a special shout-out to the personnel at Little Rock airport as well! When we arrived, our LIT-IAH leg was marked as "on-time". At the gate, however, it was now 2+ hours late. The brave personnel there quickly re-booked us on the almost-ready-to-depart flight to IAH, and worked double-time to get us on and switch our one checked back to the outgoing plane. They could NOT have been nicer or more efficient. Solve the problem before it becomes, well..."a problem". This even gave us extra time to have a nice dinner at IAH.

Granted, ours were taken care ahead of time, and not during the time of a massive meltdown. But long waiting times? Never. United just seems to have their act together, and is being proactive. Just my little cheer-leading shout-out to everyone at the airline we dealt with, both on the phone and at the airports.
 
Clipper73
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2021 7:21 pm

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 6:05 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/12/travel/airline-customer-service-covid.html

275 Minutes on Hold: Why Airline Customer Service Still Can’t Keep Up

NYT's major points:

1. Hiring - but it's hard to higher for a lot of service positions right now. (Which leads to #2)

2. Airlines wages for these positions aren't high enough for the pressure and system complexity to be learned. AA starts at $13.05, WN at $15; DL declined to answer.

3. Number of phone res employees isn't the issue - it's deployment of staff (meaning adding GA staff) that will provide the solution.

Dean Headley, the co-author of Airline Quality Rating from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan., who had not tried the new system, said it’s symbolic of a longstanding trend throughout the airline industry.

“They are trying to work with technology instead of staffing up with people that can answer the damn phone,” he said.

He also offered a fourth theory why airlines are unlikely to fix call wait times any time soon: “They believe there is always another person who will buy that ticket and that’s probably not altogether incorrect,” he said.


I would lean heavily on technology for this, to cut down the number of people who need to be served by phone.

1. If you can book online or app, the FTC should demand that carriers provide a quick method to get a refund for carrier-cancelled flights booked directly with the airline, online or by app.

2. Rebooking delayed and cancelled flights should be enabled online and by app:

a. Even for award tickets
b. Even with a routing change
c. Even to alternate destinations
d. Irrespective of booking fare code (but not cabin)
e. For all or just part of the party in the same PNR

3. Meal and hotel vouchers should be given automatically online and by app (perhaps as PDFs). Major airports should also have kiosks that spit them out. How long ago did DL do this? At least a decade, right?

4. Carriers should enable a 'baggage recall' function online and by app, for the times you've checked a bag but then find your flight delayed or cancelled and want to make alternate arrangements. There should be a mandatory push message: Your bag is now available in the baggage service office at XXX.

Other ideas?


Mybe I'm wrong but $15 an hour for that position is a pretty decent wage with flight benefits. The reason it's so stressful is because the airline will not hire more people. The stress level goes down if the workload is distributed over more people. $15 an hour at 40 hours a week plus benefits is a pretty good wage. I'm guessing some bean counter is saying this is the budget for that department and this is how many people you get at $15 to match that budget. As we can see automation is not the solution because to many people are still calling the reservation centers.
 
stlAV8R
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:23 pm

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 6:26 pm

Clipper73 wrote:
MIflyer12 wrote:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/12/travel/airline-customer-service-covid.html

275 Minutes on Hold: Why Airline Customer Service Still Can’t Keep Up

NYT's major points:

1. Hiring - but it's hard to higher for a lot of service positions right now. (Which leads to #2)

2. Airlines wages for these positions aren't high enough for the pressure and system complexity to be learned. AA starts at $13.05, WN at $15; DL declined to answer.

3. Number of phone res employees isn't the issue - it's deployment of staff (meaning adding GA staff) that will provide the solution.

Dean Headley, the co-author of Airline Quality Rating from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan., who had not tried the new system, said it’s symbolic of a longstanding trend throughout the airline industry.

“They are trying to work with technology instead of staffing up with people that can answer the damn phone,” he said.

He also offered a fourth theory why airlines are unlikely to fix call wait times any time soon: “They believe there is always another person who will buy that ticket and that’s probably not altogether incorrect,” he said.


I would lean heavily on technology for this, to cut down the number of people who need to be served by phone.

1. If you can book online or app, the FTC should demand that carriers provide a quick method to get a refund for carrier-cancelled flights booked directly with the airline, online or by app.

2. Rebooking delayed and cancelled flights should be enabled online and by app:

a. Even for award tickets
b. Even with a routing change
c. Even to alternate destinations
d. Irrespective of booking fare code (but not cabin)
e. For all or just part of the party in the same PNR

3. Meal and hotel vouchers should be given automatically online and by app (perhaps as PDFs). Major airports should also have kiosks that spit them out. How long ago did DL do this? At least a decade, right?

4. Carriers should enable a 'baggage recall' function online and by app, for the times you've checked a bag but then find your flight delayed or cancelled and want to make alternate arrangements. There should be a mandatory push message: Your bag is now available in the baggage service office at XXX.

Other ideas?


Mybe I'm wrong but $15 an hour for that position is a pretty decent wage with flight benefits. The reason it's so stressful is because the airline will not hire more people. The stress level goes down if the workload is distributed over more people. $15 an hour at 40 hours a week plus benefits is a pretty good wage. I'm guessing some bean counter is saying this is the budget for that department and this is how many people you get at $15 to match that budget. As we can see automation is not the solution because to many people are still calling the reservation centers.

$15 is far from a decent wage especially considering the knowledge you need to be proficient. IMO the stress of less people isn't as prevalent on res agents because they can only help one customer at a time. Yes, that means you won't have much or any downtime between calls if you don't force it but it doesn't equate to more stress. What's more stressful is being put into a job at $15 and only given the bare minimum training then having to learn on the fly. It's complex because you can't train for every scenario but they're not given enough time to work alongside a seasoned agent to experience the complexities of travel and feel comfortable diagnosing an issue and having a sense of how to solve them. That's at least worth $20/hr to start.
 
alo2yyz
Posts: 105
Joined: Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:53 am

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 11:15 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/12/travel/airline-customer-service-covid.html

275 Minutes on Hold: Why Airline Customer Service Still Can’t Keep Up

NYT's major points:

He also offered a fourth theory why airlines are unlikely to fix call wait times any time soon: “They believe there is always another person who will buy that ticket and that’s probably not altogether incorrect,” he said.[


Bingo. Carriers have zero incentive to modify their behavior on this (especially in the Canadian duopoly), or much else that's service-related.

I have had 4 tickets on 4 different carriers in the past little while. All have had schedule changes (fine) that required phone support because NONE of them could be dealt with through online self-serve (these were all "there are no other flights available within 24 hours - please call us" issues).

AC: Does not allow self-serve rebookings of any sort for Aeroplan tickets (stupid). No callback function.
DL: Messaging function only works on iOS devices - I've never gotten it to work on my Android phone or desktop.

At the very least, there should be a callback option at every carrier and a simple one-way message function that allows customers to acknowledge a schedule change + provide comments. Spending hours on hold to just say "yep, put me on the next available flight even if it's 3 days away" is absurd.
 
Lootess
Posts: 750
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 6:15 am

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Fri Nov 12, 2021 11:36 pm

Less complicated fare buckets, rules, award tickets, credits, and the like could go a long way into allowing making most changes and some automatically. Removing the change fees is just one factor of making the system better for both customer and the airline.

With Delta the system works well for simple online or automatic rebooking changes until you add some sort of complication, maybe you paid with Skymiles, maybe you paid for an upgrade at online check-in, and half of that itinerary now needs to be rebooked manually, bouncing back the additional payments made. Feels like it wasn't too long ago we got out of the dinosaur period of not being able to book partner airline award tickets online. Saving a lot of time on ticket desk calls.
 
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pwm2txlhopper
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 1:47 am

Compared to a couple weeks ago when Southwest cancelled on me and said there were no flights for the next four days, even from other airports up to 300 miles away, and then just said “sorry, nothing we can do” five hours doesn’t sound bad! It was an 8-10 hour wait to contact Southwest Reservations rep by phone for the entire four days. Every time I tried to call about a refund the estimated hold time 8-12 hours.

At least Delta got $2000 from me for a one-way last minute booking that Southwest charged me $171 for. Eventually I gave up calling Southwest and had to reach them on Twitter after I got home from my trip. Reaching by phone was impossible and my cell battery wouldn’t have held out that long.
 
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csturdiv
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 2:11 am

It took me 11 days, numerous calls and countless hours on hold with QF to book my upcoming flights to the US. And it was not until the last call that I was told the flight credit that I had from a previous cancelled flight couldn't be used as it didn't match the fare type I was trying to book.
 
F27500
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Joined: Sun May 07, 2017 12:52 am

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 2:50 am

JetBlue and Spirit (in my recent experience): "Your call is important to us ... Due to high call volume, your estimated wait time is 395 minutes". Classy, right?
 
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pwm2txlhopper
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Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2004 10:40 am

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 3:11 am

F27500 wrote:
JetBlue and Spirit (in my recent experience): "Your call is important to us ... Due to high call volume, your estimated wait time is 395 minutes". Classy, right?



Not any worse then Southwests, “We’re sorry. Nothing we can do” when you trust them to get you somewhere within a reasonable amount of time, showing up at 4am and they tell you it will be four days before they can get you out and You’re on your own, because they don’t even have Southwest employees at the station you’re flying out of, but contract employees, and even they claim to have a six hour hold to contact somebody at Southwest on their internal number.

What happened to the Southwest Luv? Thought they took care of you when things went wrong. That’s why I’d been flying SW almost exclusively for five years. No more unless they pay the $2000 for my BOS-JAN one way I had to purchase with DL with three hour advance purchase. So far, a month later I still haven’t gotten my full refund and haven’t gotten the $250 voucher promised to those impacted by their me,down and crew calling out over their mandates. (not that I’d use it anyway!)
 
F27500
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 3:52 am

pwm2txlhopper wrote:
F27500 wrote:
JetBlue and Spirit (in my recent experience): "Your call is important to us ... Due to high call volume, your estimated wait time is 395 minutes". Classy, right?



Not any worse then Southwests, “We’re sorry. Nothing we can do” when you trust them to get you somewhere within a reasonable amount of time, showing up at 4am and they tell you it will be four days before they can get you out and You’re on your own, because they don’t even have Southwest employees at the station you’re flying out of, but contract employees, and even they claim to have a six hour hold to contact somebody at Southwest on their internal number.

What happened to the Southwest Luv? Thought they took care of you when things went wrong. That’s why I’d been flying SW almost exclusively for five years. No more unless they pay the $2000 for my BOS-JAN one way I had to purchase with DL with three hour advance purchase. So far, a month later I still haven’t gotten my full refund and haven’t gotten the $250 voucher promised to those impacted by their me,down and crew calling out over their mandates. (not that I’d use it anyway!)


We hosed. We betta to back to Greyhound .. or hitchhikin! LOL
 
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ojjunior
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 4:22 am

Amtrak appreciates this post.
 
CairnterriAIR
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 5:23 am

I’m beginning to think it’s time to give up on de-regulation.
 
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EA CO AS
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 10:58 am

Airlines are trying to hire in the contact centers, but the problem in finding good help other businesses are experiencing applies to airlines as well. Being a res agent is hard work; yes, it’s entry level and $15-17/hr to start - plus medical, dental, 401(k) with company match, paid vacation and flight benefits isn’t bad for a job that requires no zero advanced training or degree - only previous customer service experience. But when you’re in a group orientation with 25 to 75 candidates, these applicants don’t always listen to the hiring manager as he or she says:

- It’s seniority based, so you’ll be at the bottom for quite some time.
- You’ll need to work nights, weekends, holidays, overtime, even mandatory overtime, and it all occurs simultaneously
- You’ll be quite literally tethered to a desk 8 to 10 hours a day or more taking call after call from people who are either upset, have such complicated requests that we haven’t been able to automate them through the website, or both
- You’ll be expected to be at work consistently and reliably while meeting specific handling time metrics
- Above all else you’ll need to provide excellent service on each call, regardless of anything else

So you may hire 40 people, expecting 35 to show up for day one of training. Then only 32 do. And a few more decide it’s not for them when learning how many systems they’ll need to learn. Then a few more don’t pass the 3-6 week (or longer) training class. A week or two after training, they get their first new shift and realize they can’t take their kids to soccer practice or will miss birthday parties or church on Sunday and tearfully tell the manager it’s harder than they thought it would be. And they remind the manager that In-N-Out down the street is paying the same amount with way less stress, and free food, not space-available food.

So after six months those 40 you offered jobs to are now just 18 or 19, and once past probation some put in a preference bid to transfer to the airport. And now you’re down to 14. When you needed 30 or more.

And you have another hiring event, hoping this one will prove more fruitful than the last one. Or the one before that.

Trust me, airlines are hiring. It just can’t happen fast enough, and not everyone stays. Or makes it past probation.

Oh, and yes, we can and do program dynamic waivers into the website to allow free changes on flights impacted by weather, natural disasters, and so on - but not everyone chooses to self-serve, so they pick up the phone.
 
MIflyer12
Topic Author
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 12:17 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
- It’s seniority based, so you’ll be at the bottom for quite some time.
- You’ll need to work nights, weekends, holidays, overtime, even mandatory overtime, and it all occurs simultaneously
- You’ll be quite literally tethered to a desk 8 to 10 hours a day or more taking call after call from people who are either upset, have such complicated requests that we haven’t been able to automate them through the website, or both
- You’ll be expected to be at work consistently and reliably while meeting specific handling time metrics
- Above all else you’ll need to provide excellent service on each call, regardless of anything else


That's true, but it was true 25 years ago, too. Delta had an elite line and it was excellent - Special Member Services, IIRC. I was buying a lot of tickets by phone in that era (not just DL) and do not recall multi-hour waits for an agent or callback.

stlAV8R wrote:
$15 is far from a decent wage especially considering the knowledge you need to be proficient. IMO the stress of less people isn't as prevalent on res agents because they can only help one customer at a time. Yes, that means you won't have much or any downtime between calls if you don't force it but it doesn't equate to more stress. What's more stressful is being put into a job at $15 and only given the bare minimum training then having to learn on the fly. It's complex because you can't train for every scenario but they're not given enough time to work alongside a seasoned agent to experience the complexities of travel and feel comfortable diagnosing an issue and having a sense of how to solve them. That's at least worth $20/hr to start.


The adequacy of $15/hour really depends on the locale. That's weak in LA, SEA, or NYC, but it's good money for a high school education and indoor work in Iowa City or Birmingham, AL.

I would like to hear the perspectives of people in the industry (my CS work wasn't with airlines) on virtues of big call centers vs. simple work-from-home.

Certainly, less complex fare rules could make it easier for agents, and easier to automate. (I have rebooked a delayed flight on an award ticket with a routing change on the DL app - maybe even 7 years ago - so it's not magic.)
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 1:10 pm

ojjunior wrote:
Amtrak appreciates this post.


So do the private builders and the fractionals.
 
ryan78
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 1:44 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
Airlines are trying to hire in the contact centers, but the problem in finding good help other businesses are experiencing applies to airlines as well. Being a res agent is hard work; yes, it’s entry level and $15-17/hr to start - plus medical, dental, 401(k) with company match, paid vacation and flight benefits isn’t bad for a job that requires no zero advanced training or degree - only previous customer service experience.

Trust me, airlines are hiring. It just can’t happen fast enough, and not everyone stays. Or makes it past probation.

I can only speak for Canada right now but all of our airlines and airports are getting slammed in almost every entry level position in the industry. We had mass layoffs lasting almost 2 years now, and our recovery has been a lot slower than airlines in the USA. All those people working in entry level positions before have moved on and found other jobs in the time they were laid off. I know at my company, we recalled all of our call agents and less than 25% actually came back to work. Some of our call centre waits are now pushing 3-4 hours during peak times. We recently removed our 6 month probation to obtain travel benefits, now you get them instantly, including flight passes, from the day you're hired in order to attract more people. Even then, people aren't applying because the government is paying almost the same.

At the start of the pandemic the Canadian government was paying anyone 15 and older who had been laid off or affected by the pandemic $2000 a month through the CERB benefit. When that ended in December 2020, people could go on EI and could make up to a maximum of $595 per week in Ontario. Doing the math with a 40 hour work week you'd be making $14.87/hr to stay on EI. Air Canada's current job posting for customer sales and service agents is $16/hr. This is the biggest issue facing many industries right now, it's just hitting the airlines a lot harder as they are trying to recover and restart operations.

If Covid has taught us anything, it's that things take twice as long to happen now than they did before. We just have to be patient while we climb out of this and get back to where we were. All of us in the industry are working very hard to get the ball rolling again, we just need a little time to spool up that well oiled machine that came to a grinding halt last year.
 
airlinepeanuts
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 3:04 pm

I think also part of the problem is that customers of airlines largely don’t trust or embrace technology. Several airlines do have it so you can rebook yourself, even get a hotel voucher to your phone but the customer still wants to talk to someone.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 3:11 pm

Most of us would pay $50, even more, for an airline employee to take care of all of the hassle for us during those various meltdowns. I wonder if FAs who have retired early, or stopped to raise a family could be a well paid resource for this sort of thing, in effect a custom travel agent. This sort of job could easily pay $50+ an hour and customers would value their service, or at least most of us online here along with everyone I know would. I mentioned some years ago that my tolerance for hassle took off and went, so I have been doing longer road trips to all of the places I always wanted to go or see.

edit a ps
These agents would work from home
 
RJNUT
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 3:21 pm

many of the now missing corporate travelers used to have travel management companies handling IRROPS. My company had all sorts of "waivers and favors" contracts to get us out of jams without even talking to airline directly. Now the system is loaded up with clueless leisure travelers who completely rely on airline personnel to bail them out. Often we would buy new tickets and handle cost recovery from cancelled flights after the fact just to keep us moving along.
 
PI4EVR
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 3:52 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
Most of us would pay $50, even more, for an airline employee to take care of all of the hassle for us during those various meltdowns. I wonder if FAs who have retired early, or stopped to raise a family could be a well paid resource for this sort of thing, in effect a custom travel agent. This sort of job could easily pay $50+ an hour and customers would value their service, or at least most of us online here along with everyone I know would. I mentioned some years ago that my tolerance for hassle took off and went, so I have been doing longer road trips to all of the places I always wanted to go or see.

edit a ps
These agents would work from home


A F/A would require res agent training just like the reverse of an agent wanting to become a F/A. There is obviously knowledge relating to codes and system operations, but a F/A rarely has extensive exposure to ticketing, fares, the computer system to handle a reservation and general questions relating to baggage, frequent flyer programs and the sort of customer issues that arise requiring specialized training that res people get. As pointed out above by another poster, it takes 4-6 weeks of full time classroom instruction and testing to take someone off the street and put them on phones. The same again applies in reverse. A res agent is not trained in aircraft operation, emergency procedures including medical, and a different computer operating system related to flight ops.
A ticket counter agent and in reverse a res agent can transition much easier to each other's jobs, and yet you still have to learn certain functions in both departments that don't cross over in day-to-day job functions.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 4:30 pm

So an FA stopping to raise a family is not able to fairly quickly cross train? I should think that a part-time $50+ would be pretty attractive. It also keeps them in the game with their airline of choice.
 
DoctorVenkman
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 4:31 pm

Clipper73 wrote:
MIflyer12 wrote:
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/12/travel/airline-customer-service-covid.html

275 Minutes on Hold: Why Airline Customer Service Still Can’t Keep Up

NYT's major points:

1. Hiring - but it's hard to higher for a lot of service positions right now. (Which leads to #2)

2. Airlines wages for these positions aren't high enough for the pressure and system complexity to be learned. AA starts at $13.05, WN at $15; DL declined to answer.

3. Number of phone res employees isn't the issue - it's deployment of staff (meaning adding GA staff) that will provide the solution.

Dean Headley, the co-author of Airline Quality Rating from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan., who had not tried the new system, said it’s symbolic of a longstanding trend throughout the airline industry.

“They are trying to work with technology instead of staffing up with people that can answer the damn phone,” he said.

He also offered a fourth theory why airlines are unlikely to fix call wait times any time soon: “They believe there is always another person who will buy that ticket and that’s probably not altogether incorrect,” he said.


I would lean heavily on technology for this, to cut down the number of people who need to be served by phone.

1. If you can book online or app, the FTC should demand that carriers provide a quick method to get a refund for carrier-cancelled flights booked directly with the airline, online or by app.

2. Rebooking delayed and cancelled flights should be enabled online and by app:

a. Even for award tickets
b. Even with a routing change
c. Even to alternate destinations
d. Irrespective of booking fare code (but not cabin)
e. For all or just part of the party in the same PNR

3. Meal and hotel vouchers should be given automatically online and by app (perhaps as PDFs). Major airports should also have kiosks that spit them out. How long ago did DL do this? At least a decade, right?

4. Carriers should enable a 'baggage recall' function online and by app, for the times you've checked a bag but then find your flight delayed or cancelled and want to make alternate arrangements. There should be a mandatory push message: Your bag is now available in the baggage service office at XXX.

Other ideas?


Mybe I'm wrong but $15 an hour for that position is a pretty decent wage with flight benefits. The reason it's so stressful is because the airline will not hire more people. The stress level goes down if the workload is distributed over more people. $15 an hour at 40 hours a week plus benefits is a pretty good wage. I'm guessing some bean counter is saying this is the budget for that department and this is how many people you get at $15 to match that budget. As we can see automation is not the solution because to many people are still calling the reservation centers.


$15 per hour full time translates to roughly $30,000 per year. Depending on the cost of living where you live that is either a lower class or poverty wage. Maybe in the most rural and poor parts of the country you could afford a ramshackle house on that salary. Nowhere in the USA would that be considered "decent" - especially considering the knowledge and stress required to do the job. You'd be better off working for a fast food joint or retail with far less stress and a similar wage.
 
USAir707
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 5:47 pm

About 11 years ago I worked as a ramp/gate agent here in PIT for a major carrier. We had to learn the computer systems so you could learn the check in process in the event you worked the counter, IROPS or changes in the event you worked the gate, and of course, all the ramp functions/equipment/trucks/refuelling the equipment/cleaning/lavatory dumps, etc. This was all for.... $8.25/hour (no benefits). This was not a sub contracted gig either. The intentionally flew only their "regional jets" to avoid sending mainline and having to increase pay. Demand became so crazy they had to switch to mainline and bite the bullet.

Anyways, I don't know where they get these figures for $15, etc. Anytime I called an airline in the past year, the call went overseas, and it was awful. I figured out a secret trick I don't want to reveal with United to ensure I got an experienced professional in the USA, but if I had to call the main number, I could never have accomplished what i did.
 
MohawkWeekend
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 5:48 pm

Ahhh remember those days of regulation? Airline jobs were hard to come by because they 1) paid so well 2) had great benefits 3) the job was actually glamorous 4) passengers were civilized. Most had money and manners.

Service was great, even coach seats had massive leg room. Someone did answer the phone. Youngen's don't know what they missed

If you wanted a cheap flight to go to a vacation spot, some travel agent put an ad in the paper advertising a charter flight on a certain date to say the Bahama's on World Air or Modern Air.
 
SteelChair
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 6:06 pm

This is post industrial America. Wages and benefits have sunk so low for so long its often not worthwhile to work. Who would sign up for a job to be abused all day every day for such measley compensation? I was struck by the quote by the professor that they're trying to do it with technology when they should have someone answer the phone....the professor should know that managers (and their consultants at BCG and Porsche Consulting) see employees as the problem. Understaffed and overworked for next to nothing in wages is SOP.

Top management is immune from their decisions....long phone waits are only a symptom of much deeper problems.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 6:07 pm

DoctorVenkman wrote:
$15 per hour full time translates to roughly $30,000 per year. Depending on the cost of living where you live that is either a lower class or poverty wage. Maybe in the most rural and poor parts of the country you could afford a ramshackle house on that salary. Nowhere in the USA would that be considered "decent" - especially considering the knowledge and stress required to do the job. You'd be better off working for a fast food joint or retail with far less stress and a similar wage.


Do you think fast food or retail pays $15 in rural America? In thirty states the minimum wage is $10 or less, and many of those at the Federal minimum of $7.25.

https://minimumwage.com/in-your-state/

There are about 30 million people in the U.S. making less than $15 an hour - let alone starting at $15 -- even after Covid.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business ... nic-women/

In Nevada the median (again, not starting) hourly wage for ALL OCCUPATIONS was $18.55 in 2020. How much time have you spent with Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data?
 
RJNUT
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 6:18 pm

time to re-ingratiate themselves to travel agents( the few that are left) that historically did a lions share of their work for them. pay the commissions again. Train them on IRROPSs and pay per transactions.
 
kiowa
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 6:23 pm

pwm2txlhopper wrote:
F27500 wrote:
JetBlue and Spirit (in my recent experience): "Your call is important to us ... Due to high call volume, your estimated wait time is 395 minutes". Classy, right?



Not any worse then Southwests, “We’re sorry. Nothing we can do” when you trust them to get you somewhere within a reasonable amount of time, showing up at 4am and they tell you it will be four days before they can get you out and You’re on your own, because they don’t even have Southwest employees at the station you’re flying out of, but contract employees, and even they claim to have a six hour hold to contact somebody at Southwest on their internal number.

What happened to the Southwest Luv? Thought they took care of you when things went wrong. That’s why I’d been flying SW almost exclusively for five years. No more unless they pay the $2000 for my BOS-JAN one way I had to purchase with DL with three hour advance purchase. So far, a month later I still haven’t gotten my full refund and haven’t gotten the $250 voucher promised to those impacted by their me,down and crew calling out over their mandates. (not that I’d use it anyway!)


Ha! "high call volume" has become the standard phrase on call center recordings everywhere. I have never heard "inadequate staffing" on the recorded excuse.
 
AvNerd
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 6:48 pm

As someone who not only started their airlines career in Res, but has worked call centers outside of the airline industry I feel the need to to clear some obvious delusions here.

So in 2021 AA is starting res agents at 13.05 and WN at 15, great but let me point out that well over 20 years ago I started in res at NW at 10.65 per hour and that was with FREE, yes FREE, medical, dental, and life insurance. Those 2021 numbers remember come with monthly premiums starting at $200 to $300 per month even for single coverage. In the 1990's when I started average rent here on Long Island, a suburb of NYC, was $800 per month for a 1 BR and today the lowest you can find is over $1700 per month. SO clearly those pay rates are garbage in a high cost locale like NY, LA, SF, Boston, or Chicago.

Someone said that most people would gladly $50 more for more and better trained personnel, the problem is that 33 years of deregulation has shown the exact opposite to be true. Most customers have clearly voted with their credit cards to drive to another airport 2 hours away, connect 4 times, leave a day earlier, come home a day later, and tolerate to end of bad service, decreasing legroom, and no frills, if it means they save $5 per ticket.

Call center jobs are in fact highly stressful, it's not the airlines fault, not the staffing levels fault, and not the customers fault, it is a simple psychological fact that in a call center you are tethered to a phone and accountable for literally every second of your day period. In not other job I have had including fast food in high school, is there this level of control. Knowing every time you go potty, you will have to justify to someone both why you went and why you took as long as you did is NOT fun. I did a year and a half in res, later after the airlines I also did a 9 months in a call center for the IRS, and later on 6 months in one for a lawn company, none of them were pleasant. Me personally? You want me to take a call center job? Plan on offering well over $100 per hour and full FREE benefits. I'd go clean toilets for minimum wage first.

Skills and training. Like it or not there really is a lot to learn. We started with 4 weeks full time classroom, then went on to another 6 weeks OJT with coaches on the floor with us. Today, very likely will be home based which means to coach sitting right there to ask a question or listen in on the call.

Seniority and scheduling. You can say it all you want, and I used to repeat myself 10 or 20 times just in the group interview and again during our training classes, but they here what they want and so the "You will be on 15.30-00.00 with Tue/Wed. off for the next 5 years" gets ignored. My repetitive you will NOT have a Christmas or Thanksgiving off for the next decade gets ignored. As a result the first time we have a scheduling conflict or a holiday comes up expect to lose 30% of the new hire class. Again, can I blame them? I had Shiny Jet Syndrome, but face it most are their because airline came before insurance in the help wanted ads so from their point of view they can work nights, holidays, and weekends for $13 per hour or go work for the IRS doing the same job, with the same benefits, and know they will never see a holiday or weekend while making $20 per hour. Oh and the IRS is having just as much trouble filling their classes. I know this both because my partner is a manager there and the center I used to work at begs me to come back literally every other week. Or if they want off that tether the local Walmart that just opened is offering $17 per hour to start with department leads, or whatever their term was, starting at $30 per hour.

The bottom line is part of the issue is the Great Resignation, part of the problem with airlines know customers are loyal only to the next fare sale and so have no incentive to spend on tech to alleviate the issues or pony up for the staff needed, and part of the problem is with almost no biz travel right now the overwhelming majority of the customers are Once a Year VIP's who don't have a clue what to do in an IROP situation.
 
DoctorVenkman
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 8:05 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
DoctorVenkman wrote:
$15 per hour full time translates to roughly $30,000 per year. Depending on the cost of living where you live that is either a lower class or poverty wage. Maybe in the most rural and poor parts of the country you could afford a ramshackle house on that salary. Nowhere in the USA would that be considered "decent" - especially considering the knowledge and stress required to do the job. You'd be better off working for a fast food joint or retail with far less stress and a similar wage.


Do you think fast food or retail pays $15 in rural America? In thirty states the minimum wage is $10 or less, and many of those at the Federal minimum of $7.25.

https://minimumwage.com/in-your-state/

There are about 30 million people in the U.S. making less than $15 an hour - let alone starting at $15 -- even after Covid.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business ... nic-women/

In Nevada the median (again, not starting) hourly wage for ALL OCCUPATIONS was $18.55 in 2020. How much time have you spent with Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data?


I think you missed my point entirely. I'm not debating that many people make below $15/hour - obviously they do. The point is that it's not a DECENT wage that would be attractive to people. It's barely enough to subsist on in many areas. Many companies now are finding out that they can't attract people with poverty wages and employees are realizing they have options. If AA wants to fix their staffing problems they will need to cough up more than a paltry $15/hour.
 
kiowa
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sat Nov 13, 2021 8:21 pm

DoctorVenkman wrote:
MIflyer12 wrote:
DoctorVenkman wrote:
$15 per hour full time translates to roughly $30,000 per year. Depending on the cost of living where you live that is either a lower class or poverty wage. Maybe in the most rural and poor parts of the country you could afford a ramshackle house on that salary. Nowhere in the USA would that be considered "decent" - especially considering the knowledge and stress required to do the job. You'd be better off working for a fast food joint or retail with far less stress and a similar wage.


Do you think fast food or retail pays $15 in rural America? In thirty states the minimum wage is $10 or less, and many of those at the Federal minimum of $7.25.

https://minimumwage.com/in-your-state/

There are about 30 million people in the U.S. making less than $15 an hour - let alone starting at $15 -- even after Covid.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business ... nic-women/

In Nevada the median (again, not starting) hourly wage for ALL OCCUPATIONS was $18.55 in 2020. How much time have you spent with Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data?


I think you missed my point entirely. I'm not debating that many people make below $15/hour - obviously they do. The point is that it's not a DECENT wage that would be attractive to people. It's barely enough to subsist on in many areas. Many companies now are finding out that they can't attract people with poverty wages and employees are realizing they have options. If AA wants to fix their staffing problems they will need to cough up more than a paltry $15/hour.


Which is why much is outsourced. Why then are the calls still backed up. Does AA and SWA not want to pay outsourced call center rates or are they not much cheaper?
 
F27500
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 1:24 am

PI4EVR wrote:
frmrCapCadet wrote:
Most of us would pay $50, even more, for an airline employee to take care of all of the hassle for us during those various meltdowns. I wonder if FAs who have retired early, or stopped to raise a family could be a well paid resource for this sort of thing, in effect a custom travel agent. This sort of job could easily pay $50+ an hour and customers would value their service, or at least most of us online here along with everyone I know would. I mentioned some years ago that my tolerance for hassle took off and went, so I have been doing longer road trips to all of the places I always wanted to go or see.

edit a ps
These agents would work from home


A F/A would require res agent training just like the reverse of an agent wanting to become a F/A. There is obviously knowledge relating to codes and system operations, but a F/A rarely has extensive exposure to ticketing, fares, the computer system to handle a reservation and general questions relating to baggage, frequent flyer programs and the sort of customer issues that arise requiring specialized training that res people get. As pointed out above by another poster, it takes 4-6 weeks of full time classroom instruction and testing to take someone off the street and put them on phones. The same again applies in reverse. A res agent is not trained in aircraft operation, emergency procedures including medical, and a different computer operating system related to flight ops.
A ticket counter agent and in reverse a res agent can transition much easier to each other's jobs, and yet you still have to learn certain functions in both departments that don't cross over in day-to-day job functions.


FA's have zero skills other than making announcements, evacuatiing ("in the unlikely event") .. and some very rudimentary first aid .. oh ... and serving warm Sprites and bottles of water. Res is much more involved ... no FA could "just step into" a ground position.
 
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 12:24 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
So an FA stopping to raise a family is not able to fairly quickly cross train? I should think that a part-time $50+ would be pretty attractive. It also keeps them in the game with their airline of choice.


Not in the least would it be quick; they'd be required to go through formal newhire classroom training just like anyone off the street. Sure, they may know the city codes before their classmates or about the company's overall operations, but in all other facets of the job they'd be just as lost as someone newly hired. And in just about all scenarios, you're talking about someone who'd have to interview separately to become a res agent, starting over from scratch in terms of pay since they'd be in an entirely separate union contract group, and forfeiting their position in their FA union contract group. Not to mention that most former FAs don't typically make for long-lasting res agents because they've gone from jobs where they're up and about, engaging with people face to face, to very sedentary jobs where they never directly interact with a customer in person and that "downshift" in jobs is something that typically wears on your extroverted FA-types quickly.

In my experience, I've seen two examples of former FAs who became res agents as a form of a workplace accommodation for medical issues where they could no longer work inflight but needed to stay employed with the company. They had to go through newhire training from day one, started at the bottom of the pay scale, etc. and ultimately one did not pass probation, while the other decided the job was not the right fit and voluntarily separated from the company.
 
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 12:30 pm

kiowa wrote:
Ha! "high call volume" has become the standard phrase on call center recordings everywhere. I have never heard "inadequate staffing" on the recorded excuse.


Airlines typically try to staff contact centers well beyond what the "blue sky" call volume projections are, and manage the daily staff downward through the ability to take voluntary time off (unpaid) when there's an overage, but sometimes even managing to that all-hands-on-deck staff level isn't adequate in IRROPS situations, or in this case, when carriers add capacity to the network faster than they can get contact center staff trained and in place.

Throw in an odd job market with above-normal absenteeism and attrition, and you have long hold times. Most carriers employ a virtual hold/callback queue option, however, where the system will reconnect you with an agent when your place in queue comes up so you don't actually have to hold all that time.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 2:20 pm

I would like to know the HR evaluations of what a person needs to be a reservation person. If it is all so difficult as posters are suggesting, it sounds like a $100K job to me. No wonder they can't find or keep the people to do the job right. Most jobs in very large corporations use some sort of sorting process to ensure the person has enough intelligence to do the job, but not so much to get too bored with it.
 
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 6:05 pm

frmrCapCadet wrote:
I would like to know the HR evaluations of what a person needs to be a reservation person. If it is all so difficult as posters are suggesting, it sounds like a $100K job to me. No wonder they can't find or keep the people to do the job right. Most jobs in very large corporations use some sort of sorting process to ensure the person has enough intelligence to do the job, but not so much to get too bored with it.


At the top of the pay scale, making $100K is doable if you work lots of OT, and from what I'm told, at DL, their agents top out at over $44/hr after 20+ years' service. Most payscales top out in the $30-35/hr range after 10-12 years or so. Regarding the HR side, you're looking for someone who likes talking to people, who has basic computer skills, someone who is flexible, able to work varied shifts including nights/weekends/holidays, etc.

Unfortunately, when you're an HR business partner or a hiring manager, you don't get a ton of time with your candidates - maybe 15-20 minutes each in a one-on-one setting - and during that time, their job is simply "say whatever it takes to get hired." And while we know this, we also have to do our best to look for the BS artists, the computer illiterate, and so on. And we do assess basic computer efficiency in the interview itself, which is hard to fake out. But again, a candidate generally will reply with whatever they think will land them an offer, so if I ask them, "Are you comfortable with juggling chainsaws while rollerskating backward down a flight of stairs?" they're going to respond with, "Oh yeah, I do that all the time! It's my favorite hobby!" Of course, sometimes they make it easy to determine if they're a fit, such as when you ask how many times they think is reasonable to miss work in the first six months of employment and they respond with, "Oh, I dunno - four?"

Once you've found the people you think will be a good fit, it's only after an offer is made to a successful candidate that they start really thinking about whether or not they truly WANT the job, and usually, they've interviewed at 2-4 other places as well, so you become merely one option of many. They'll accept, of course, go through the DOT drug testing process, criminal background check - both of which are costly to the airline! - and at some point, before training begins 2-3 weeks later, you may get notified that one or more of your candidates have accepted employment elsewhere and withdrawn, failed the drug screen, failed the background check, and so on.

Point being, airlines try their best from an HR perspective to assess candidates based on their resume/past performance and responses to traditional behavioral questions, but just as with any other employer, it's not easy to be 100% successful in getting the right people, or getting them to stay.
 
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 6:31 pm

EA... Thanks. That was helpful.
 
IFlyOff
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 6:40 pm

I have found United to be excellent with it's irrops recovery. When my flight cancelled, flight options appeared on my app almost immediately for me to accept or not. United also has a new Agent on Demand option. Scan a barcode and you can text or face time an agent to assist you. I tried it while I was waiting in line and the agent took care of my rebooking so I didn't have to wait in line. The biggest problem for airlines is lack of availability. Flights are full so it's hard to find rebooking options.
 
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:25 pm

IFlyOff wrote:
The biggest problem for airlines is lack of availability. Flights are full so it's hard to find rebooking options.


Very true; when flights are already full, it's not uncommon for IRROPS to result in customers having to be rebooked not just the next day, but possibly multiple days later due to extremely full flights. Airlines will try to be proactive, so if you know you'll be down two crews you'd want to cancel two flights where you have high frequencies and/or can upgauge rather than cancel flights where you have just one frequency per day.
 
kyrone
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:25 pm

From what I see in the Chicagoland area, many entry level passenger/ramp jobs directly with an airline are paying significantly less than working for a ground handling company. Several ground handling companies are paying $5-7 more an hour for full time with benefits (and I will acknowledge they are also struggling to recruit) than airlines are. However when this is brought up to airline management, most of my colleagues are met with a, “You’re welcome to go apply with them then.” Rather than looking at their own pay scale and trying to match.
 
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 10:42 pm

kyrone wrote:
From what I see in the Chicagoland area, many entry level passenger/ramp jobs directly with an airline are paying significantly less than working for a ground handling company. Several ground handling companies are paying $5-7 more an hour for full time with benefits (and I will acknowledge they are also struggling to recruit) than airlines are. However when this is brought up to airline management, most of my colleagues are met with a, “You’re welcome to go apply with them then.” Rather than looking at their own pay scale and trying to match.


You cannot arbitrarily change a union pay scale if the workgroup is under a collective bargaining agreement. You can, if you wish, adjust with a pay differential to move newbies further along the scale to match what a 3 or 5 year employee makes, essentially making the pay for years 0-5 all the same, to entice new applicants, but you can't scrap the whole thing without opening up the contract.
 
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 10:59 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
IFlyOff wrote:
The biggest problem for airlines is lack of availability. Flights are full so it's hard to find rebooking options.


Very true; when flights are already full, it's not uncommon for IRROPS to result in customers having to be rebooked not just the next day, but possibly multiple days later due to extremely full flights. Airlines will try to be proactive, so if you know you'll be down two crews you'd want to cancel two flights where you have high frequencies and/or can upgauge rather than cancel flights where you have just one frequency per day.


If my trip will be impacted by a storm, just cancel it and rebook days later. We actually did that at work a few times, better than wasting everyone’s time. My relief on a trip was stuck in JFK for 36+ hours, I sat around a South Pacific island missing Christmas home. After that we all agreed, give it up if the weather will create these msssive problems.
 
kyrone
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Sun Nov 14, 2021 11:10 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
kyrone wrote:
From what I see in the Chicagoland area, many entry level passenger/ramp jobs directly with an airline are paying significantly less than working for a ground handling company. Several ground handling companies are paying $5-7 more an hour for full time with benefits (and I will acknowledge they are also struggling to recruit) than airlines are. However when this is brought up to airline management, most of my colleagues are met with a, “You’re welcome to go apply with them then.” Rather than looking at their own pay scale and trying to match.


You cannot arbitrarily change a union pay scale if the workgroup is under a collective bargaining agreement. You can, if you wish, adjust with a pay differential to move newbies further along the scale to match what a 3 or 5 year employee makes, essentially making the pay for years 0-5 all the same, to entice new applicants, but you can't scrap the whole thing without opening up the contract.



I know, and it isn’t an easy situation with union requirements thrown in the mix. But I see ground handlers being more proactive than airlines, which is a bit unusual in my experience in the industry. I dont think I’ve seen any union airline jobs offering more than a sign on bonus here, I haven’t seen a differential offered.
 
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Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:41 am

kyrone wrote:
I dont think I’ve seen any union airline jobs offering more than a sign on bonus here, I haven’t seen a differential offered.


A great example just occurred with AS when it comes to hiring CSAs at the SEA station; in August, the company enacted a differential that bumped newhires and anyone else already in the pay progression up to step 4 of the contract, equivalent to being a 3 year employee. This meant for that location, where hiring and retention was difficult, the starting pay jumped from $15.75/hr to $17.42/hr, so anyone within those steps was bumped up to step 4 pay.

There's also a similar transition differential scale in effect for CSAs at LAX, paying them $2.00/hr above the steps in the CBA and gradually phasing out as the steps increase, being zeroed out after step 9, or $21.84/hr. So yes, airlines are taking steps to address the economic realities of hiring and retention where and when they occur.
 
tpaewr
Posts: 733
Joined: Sat May 19, 2001 9:01 am

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Mon Nov 15, 2021 12:53 pm

AvNerd wrote:
As someone who not only started their airlines career in Res, but has worked call centers outside of the airline industry I feel the need to to clear some obvious delusions here.

So in 2021 AA is starting res agents at 13.05 and WN at 15, great but let me point out that well over 20 years ago I started in res at NW at 10.65 per hour and that was with FREE, yes FREE, medical, dental, and life insurance. Those 2021 numbers remember come with monthly premiums starting at $200 to $300 per month even for single coverage. In the 1990's when I started average rent here on Long Island, a suburb of NYC, was $800 per month for a 1 BR and today the lowest you can find is over $1700 per month. SO clearly those pay rates are garbage in a high cost locale like NY, LA, SF, Boston, or Chicago.

Someone said that most people would gladly $50 more for more and better trained personnel, the problem is that 33 years of deregulation has shown the exact opposite to be true. Most customers have clearly voted with their credit cards to drive to another airport 2 hours away, connect 4 times, leave a day earlier, come home a day later, and tolerate to end of bad service, decreasing legroom, and no frills, if it means they save $5 per ticket.

Call center jobs are in fact highly stressful, it's not the airlines fault, not the staffing levels fault, and not the customers fault, it is a simple psychological fact that in a call center you are tethered to a phone and accountable for literally every second of your day period. In not other job I have had including fast food in high school, is there this level of control. Knowing every time you go potty, you will have to justify to someone both why you went and why you took as long as you did is NOT fun. I did a year and a half in res, later after the airlines I also did a 9 months in a call center for the IRS, and later on 6 months in one for a lawn company, none of them were pleasant. Me personally? You want me to take a call center job? Plan on offering well over $100 per hour and full FREE benefits. I'd go clean toilets for minimum wage first.

Skills and training. Like it or not there really is a lot to learn. We started with 4 weeks full time classroom, then went on to another 6 weeks OJT with coaches on the floor with us. Today, very likely will be home based which means to coach sitting right there to ask a question or listen in on the call.

Seniority and scheduling. You can say it all you want, and I used to repeat myself 10 or 20 times just in the group interview and again during our training classes, but they here what they want and so the "You will be on 15.30-00.00 with Tue/Wed. off for the next 5 years" gets ignored. My repetitive you will NOT have a Christmas or Thanksgiving off for the next decade gets ignored. As a result the first time we have a scheduling conflict or a holiday comes up expect to lose 30% of the new hire class. Again, can I blame them? I had Shiny Jet Syndrome, but face it most are their because airline came before insurance in the help wanted ads so from their point of view they can work nights, holidays, and weekends for $13 per hour or go work for the IRS doing the same job, with the same benefits, and know they will never see a holiday or weekend while making $20 per hour. Oh and the IRS is having just as much trouble filling their classes. I know this both because my partner is a manager there and the center I used to work at begs me to come back literally every other week. Or if they want off that tether the local Walmart that just opened is offering $17 per hour to start with department leads, or whatever their term was, starting at $30 per hour.

The bottom line is part of the issue is the Great Resignation, part of the problem with airlines know customers are loyal only to the next fare sale and so have no incentive to spend on tech to alleviate the issues or pony up for the staff needed, and part of the problem is with almost no biz travel right now the overwhelming majority of the customers are Once a Year VIP's who don't have a clue what to do in an IROP situation.




Never have I read so much and agreed with every single letter. Very well spoken!

[email protected] 2 hours away and 4 conx!
 
Exeiowa
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 4:49 pm

Re: Willing to spend four hours on hold? NYT on airline res service experience

Mon Nov 15, 2021 1:45 pm

So it turns out the free market applies to peoples decisions on buying tickets AND for people deciding how to obtain money in exchange for their time. Who would have guessed?

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