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Hi Ben & team,
As I waited on hold to cancel an upcoming reservation, something occurred to me. Airlines are currently experiencing long hold times for customer service due to high volume of corona-related changes/cancellations. At the same time, they are drastically reducing scheduled flights leaving them with a huge surplus of employees at risk of furlough or layoffs. Why aren’t they restaffing flight attendants and other frontline staff who aren’t working to phone customer service??? Seems like there is a MAJOR obvious synergy there (employees wouldn’t even require much re-training if they’re already customer-facing), but I haven’t seen anyone talking about this! It’s the ultimate two birds/one stone solution–keep more employees on the payroll, and reduce wait times/inconvenience for your customers.
I can’t be the only one with this idea…
Part of the hold times issue is simple infrastructure. The call centers very likely are simply not big enough to meet this surge in demand. Given how reservation systems work, it very likely isnt easy to scale.
As to repurposing/retraining staff – I dont know, but I suspect it might be tied to some sort of job classification within the various labor unions (note – I am not throwing stones, just speculating). Also, while simply operating a terminal to look at/modify reservations is one thing, getting people up to speed on rapidly changing policy who dont necessarily deal with that aspect of the business is difficult. When you do call in, airlines need a consistent message.
Just my take.
I, too, had considered there might be union issues with it. And even if it’s a job that can be done from home there is a real infrastructure consideration issue as RTBones mentions. I’m fortunate that my company is considered essential and that my whole team is able to work from home. But we were only two days into the work-from-home process when it was announced that Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites were going to be temporarily blocked due to the significant increase in traffic there. Yesterday an email went around stating that due to increased use in YouTube it was under consideration for shut down as well. We’re a worldwide company but switching the bulk of the IT load to run through our VPN services is taxing our system far beyond the norm.
Hey! I am a flight attendant for a Canadian airline. We recently ceased all flights temporarily. Your idea is very smart, but at least for my airline, our call center is fully staffed at the moment, every desk is full. So there would be no place to put us. Also, we don’t know ANYTHING about ticketing, refunding tickets, exchanging tickets, or what the software even looks like. For them to train us, so we would be up to par to give a good service to our customers, would take too long.
Instead, my company is collaborating with other Canadian essential services, ie nursing homes, and grocery stores, to try to get us jobs during this layoff period