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From the Inside...of the Mind of an Airline Gate Agent

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): From the Inside...of the Mind of an Airline Gate Agent

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

From the Inside...of the Mind of an Airline Gate Agent

I've actually worked for an airline, but in reservations, so no face-to-face contact with customers. I often wondered what the customer service reps, aka the gate agents, have to say about us. If I asked one of them for advice or their commentary, what would they say? In light of that thought, I wondered about some other jobs where people regularly deal with the public....what do they think? Wouldn't that be an interesting blog topic? So, I went right out and cornered a gate agent. Okay, so I knew this person, and it wasn't so hard to get them to sing. But here is what they had to say in no particular order of importance.

  • Don't tell us you just got married or are newlyweds-- you're not getting a free upgrade and BTW by looking at your I.D. it's also not your birthday. You'd be surprised what people lie about...I mean say.
  • Don't yell. It'll get you nowhere-- besides you just look pathetic when you do that. Have you ever looked around at the other folks when you do this?
  • Don't try to be a "charmer". We can see you coming a mile away and everything has been tried before.
  • Don't give a long-winded story. We've heard that all before too-- get to the point of the problem. The sooner you do, the sooner it can be fixed.
  • Don't be argumentative. This isn't the debate club-- there ARE rules NOT meant to be broken.
  • Don't take it personal, but someone has to sit in the middle seat. Besides, be happy you actually have a seat as harsh as that may sound. Airlines routinely overbook, because they are losing money hand over fist these days.
  • Don't incessantly ask to sit in/check out the cockpit (BTW, the proper term is flight deck), especially if you've been drinking or make a joke thereof, unless you wish to be politely escorted off the plane-- and don't refuse unless you'd rather the police come get you instead. This happens more times than you think.
  • I know the plane is still "sitting" there and no we can't "just" put the jetbridge back up. This isn't a bus stop where we can just open the door and let you on. Besides, even mass transit has a schedule to keep as do the other passengers on the plane.
  • Don't get wasted. This isn't a club-- the more sober the better, the less likely you'll catch the ire of a crew member or gate agent and a one way ticket right back off the plane.
  • If we say it's ATC or weather, we mean it's ATC or weather and yes it may be sunny and palm tress here, but tell that to the crew and passengers (who coincidently will be your next crew and plane) delayed in a blizzard on the other side of the continent who'd rather be where it's sunny and palm trees.
  • If we say it's a mechanical, we mean it's a mechanical. We either A. fix it, B. find another plane that's hopefully not broken, C. cancel and consolidate, or D. all of the above. We don't mean to inconvenience you but have you ever waited for your car to be fixed? Multiply that by 10. And no, there are typically no extra planes back at the motor pool.
  • If we say the crew went "illegal" we don't mean they just broke the law. We do mean they have exceeded their federally mandated duty hours/flight time-- most likely still stuck on the other side of the continent who will not be where it's sunny and palm trees.
  • If you packed it, you lift it. Keep that in mind when you decide to bring along the kitchen sink. Yes, we HAVE seen kitchen sinks.
  • We can get you help, but maybe not the way you wanted. Regardless of what Oprah said, if you have medication in your checked luggage and it's an emergency, paramedics will be called right away and your luggage will be waiting for you at your final destination.
  • The quicker you store your bags (& preferably bag singular) and take a seat, the quicker everyone can leave on-time. BTW be considerate of others (if it doesn't fit it doesn't fit) the sooner you gate check it, the sooner we can go.
  • When we say put away your reading materials, this isn't your cue to catch up on the Wall Street Journal. You'll have plenty of time to do that on a "wheels up" time way past your scheduled departure time. We know you've flown before. We just don't want you to pull a "George Costanza"-- you're in the exit row to assist others in an emergency including women and children first, not for the leg room right?
  • Don't stand in the customer service line when things start going South. The longer you wait, the more likely you'll miss another flight. Go directly to the next departure gate. But don't pester the agent-- it won't get you a seat any faster, actually the opposite. Dutifully wait in line will you try to get through to the 1-800# for customer service and reservations. Always have this number with you when you travel.
  • When you ask for a supervisor, be patient. Keep in mind, there are other duties and others who also ask for a supervisor no matter how serious or mundane it may be-- and once you do see him or her don't ask to see their supervisor, it's counterproductive and wastes time.
  • No you are not free to move about the cabin. Post 9/11, just stay in your seat with your seatbelt on. Should the plane hit some rogue turbulence, you'll also be much safer.
  • When all else fails, be a normal human being. It goes a long way. Relax and take it in stride. Expect the unexpected and don't lose your mind walking through the airport sliding doors. Maybe you'll get that upgrade after all... paid for of course.
Being a gate agent obviously isn't an easy job. That is why one of the perks...er, bone..... the airlines throw at you is the travel benefits. Travel the world on peanuts since you can't afford to any other way! Do you have any gate agent stories to share?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

When we left Germany to PCS back to the states, the gate agent, an American expatriate told us we should give classes to families who are PCS'ing because so many just don't follow the rules. She was AMAZED that we managed to pack for 2 kids and 2 adults and not have 8 bags and 8 carry ons. People think it's an automatic right. Yeah...you COULD bring that much...but do you NEED to? I mailed several boxes ahead to our new unit. I didn't pack it all in my luggage. Our bags didn't weigh so much that we couldn't lift them. We had all the straps, handles and miscellaneous stuff removed from bags, carseats, etc. Our carry on luggage was not oversized.

And we didn't fight or argue...even when she was unable to seat us all as a family...we made do with what we got.

BUT...by the same token...gate attendants need to curb their tongues...I've heard them say things to other gate attendants about passengers...obviously not meant for my ears, but heard nonetheless. And...for the attendants (all airport/airline personnel, actually), please be VERY SURE that the person/people you are talking about don't understand the language you are speaking BEFORE you say bad things about them.

I speak French, and flew Air France to Paris, and then to Nurnberg...they said some absolutely awful things about me and my kids...and the "amount of stuff" I had (hey, we were PCS'ing TO Germany, I had 2 carseats, 2 kids, a stroller, diaperbag and backpack...that was IT). But it was said in French...and after hours of abuse and complaints from the passengers sitting in front of me (my son was 15 months old at the time and, well... was doing BABY things...like whining, crying, kicking...babbling, etc), and the LIES of the flight attendant (I know she was just trying to be nice to ME, but she said things to the guy ABOUT me that were not nice). Anyway...after being talked about, I'd had enough and went off...IN FRENCH. I don't go off on people, but I'd had enough abuse. This is a LONG story for another time, though....

March 11, 2008 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Read more travel related articles at the Carnival of Travel

http://www.airlinecreditcards.com/travelhacker/carnival-of-travel-guide-11-2/

March 18, 2008 at 2:06 PM  

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