Millions of Americans board planes each year to visit relatives, see the world and attend business meetings. Of course, airlines couldn’t shuttle people around the globe like they do without a large and diverse workforce. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the airline industry employed more than 492,000 workers in 2008. One in five of those individuals made their living as an airline reservation agent.
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Airline reservation agents make and confirm reservations over the phone and in person at the airport. They are also responsible for selling tickets and issuing boarding passes. Agents are front-line employees and interact with the public regularly. During a typical work day, agents answer customers’ question regarding upgrades, flight schedules and seating assignments. Assisting passengers that are having trouble operating ticketing machines and self-service kiosks is also part of the job.
Requirements and Training
Successful ticket agents exhibit good communication skills, a pleasant phone demeanour and exceptional customer service skills. Candidates with sales or customer service training are highly desirable. Formal education requirements are minimal. Most employers only require a high school diploma or its equivalent. On-the-job training is provided to teach new hires how to operate the necessary ticketing and reservation systems.
Uniforms are almost always required. Workers should be prepared to work irregular hours. This includes night shifts and working holidays. Most ticket agents work in comfortable airport terminals or office call centres. The position requires constant contact with the general public. Travellers are often jet-lagged and anxious when they encounter ticket agents. Some frazzled customers take out their frustration on airline employees which can create a stressful work environment.
Salary and Benefits
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for airline ticket clerks was £22,594 in 2008. In addition to their regular paychecks most airline employees receive standard benefits including paid vacation time, sick live, health insurance and retirement plans. Most airline agents also enjoy travel benefits as part of their compensation package. These benefits include free or discounted airline tickets for themselves and their immediate family.
BLS experts predict the number of airline reservation agent jobs will grow approximately 7 per cent between 2008 and 2018. However, according to BLS reports, competition for reservation agent jobs will be strong during this time. Although new jobs are being created the number of applicants entering the market is much larger than the number of openings. BLS officials attribute the large applicant pool to the industry’s travel discounts and the job’s minimal educational requirements.
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