Airlines have drastically cut back their route networks, and expect a recovery to take several years. Unfortunately this has caused layoffs at many airlines. Among those employees who are sticking around at airlines, some creative arrangements are needed to keep people efficiently employed.
Well, Qatar Airways seems to have a creative solution for keeping some cabin crew busy in the coming months…
Qatar Airways flight attendants take on call center positions
Qatar Airways has asked select cabin crew to work in the company’s call centers, including managing some social channels. This is a three month job assignment that starts on August 2.
As the assignment is described, the company is continuing to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has caused the demands of customers to change. The company’s commitment to the customer experience remains, both on the ground and in the air. As a result, the company needs added support in call centers.
Cabin crew who have taken on this assignment will undergo a training course on August 2, before starting their assignment. They’ll be working nine hour shifts (with breaks) five days per week, and schedules will vary, since the call center operates 24/7.
The company markets this as offering the added benefit of:
- Learning new skills in reservations and ticketing
- Developing new expertise in customer service
- Having a new perspective on a different side of the customer journey
- Offering training in the areas of data protection and data privacy
In light of the pandemic, it’s expected that those working in the call centers will have to wear masks, and workstations will also have to be properly distanced.
This is creative… I guess?
I commend Qatar Airways for trying to shift resources during the pandemic in a way that helps customers. The current pandemic sure has exposed just how outdated airline technology is, and the limited capacity for customers to self-serve reservations online.
At many airlines it’s almost impossible to get through to someone by phone, so there’s no denying that airlines need more people in call centers than in other roles right now.
That being said, is a short training course really sufficient to get flight attendants up to speed on working in a call center? Arguably airline reservations is a fairly skilled job, and there are lots of rules to be aware of.
Consumers already have a hard enough time getting correct answers from reservations agents who have been working in such a role for a decade (hence the “hang up and call again” tactic), so I can only imagine how this will be when you get someone who is on the job for the first day.
I’ll be very curious to see how this situation works out for Qatar Airways.
Some Qatar Airways cabin crew have accepted a three month assignment to work in the call center, starting this month. The good news is that your next call to Qatar Airways may be answered more quickly, while the bad news is that you may get an agent who is especially unknowledgeable, though no fault of their own.
How do you think this will work out for Qatar Airways?
Pls start to fly from us
Qatar is desert but AA and UA should assign FA to yard work duty. Have you seen how much moving the grass costs? They could offer less expensive work. I am not joking. But FA unions would protest so have to lay them off. Sad.
At first glance, why not?
At second glance, what is the average pay rate for a FA compared to a call center agent and will there be closures of call centers in high-wage countries like the USA (as some have mentioned)?
They are currently letting go approximately 5000 crew in Doha as well! Majority (90%) of Economy crew will be made redundant by the end of August! Business class crew will than be downgraded to work in Economy class, and the surplus of crew will go and work in the airport in the meantime! Sad times!
Nothing wrong with cross-training your staff at the best of time let alone the worst of times!
Delta did this decades ago. The flight attendant's couldn't wait to get back to flying.
Well I certainly hope they plan on having social distancing plans in place as call centers usually see people crammed into close quarters. Seems to me with modern technology, people should be able to work their call center positions remotely. It will save money on leasing office space and possibly those savings will transfer to employees. And yes, I know that's wishful thinking.
Well done idea! Moving forward was great solution for the future.
It's a very practical and good idea. Atleast the crew retain their jubs .That is more important.
Hats off to QR
Not sure .
They are laying off a lots of call centers agents with decades of experience.
I will not call it creative.
They are closing the call center and laying off around 60 employees in US.
Not sure that's is being creative.
This is a smart move. Accenture is doing this with their consultants in the U.S.
Kudos to Qatar Airways on this!
SQ is doing the same, some cabin crew have been deployed to hospitals and other jobs in the community https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/800-sia-cabin-crew-deployed-in-singapores-fight-against-covid-19-in-alternative-roles
That’s great for Flight Attendants. Meanwhile, they are closing their call center in Florida on Sep. 30th and leaving all those employees without jobs. No severance, no insurance and under the current circumstances very few prospects for securing. employment with another company any time soon. So much for “preserving jobs” QR.
But they closing call center in the U S
Customer service from QR’s call centre is the worst of the worst, so I think there’s a reasonable chance this will turn out to be a positive if it means you get through to someone that actually cares somewhat!
"Qatar Airways Cabin Crew Will Work In Call Centers". If United were to do the same thing, it would have to send the employees to live in India or the Philippines. I don't know if anyone has experienced the same thing, but anytime I called United, the call was always routed to an Indian agent.
This was done before at QR and worked just fine. I think it's a good idea to preserve jobs.
Reallocating resources where the need is greater. This is very innovative, kinda like when Singapore had their flight attendants help out at hospitals
Kudos to QR for at least being resourceful. Even within a call center there are different skill groups/sets. If the flight attendants will handle more of the simple changes (i.e. changing seats, adding baggage fees, etc.) i think that would be fine. The more complex changes will probably be handled by more senior call center folks. One skill flight attendants do have is they know how to talk to people in a kind, respectful, and...
Kudos to QR for at least being resourceful. Even within a call center there are different skill groups/sets. If the flight attendants will handle more of the simple changes (i.e. changing seats, adding baggage fees, etc.) i think that would be fine. The more complex changes will probably be handled by more senior call center folks. One skill flight attendants do have is they know how to talk to people in a kind, respectful, and friendly manner.
I worked in a call center for 6 months back several years ago and I think the personable aspect of it is quite important and is not easy for everyone (for certain calls there are scripts one has to adhere to.) There was that scene in Marigold movie where Judi Dench works for a call center in India training them how to talk to people from the UK. I think that captures how adding a little piece of humanity to calls may make a big difference to customers.
At the end of the day, a job is a job and one has to make a living. I really hope it works out for QR.
Qatar Airways is trying to innovate to preserve jobs.
There is no real downside to this.