This story was written by Steven Paduchak for AirlineReporter.com
As I sit in front of the podium just past airport security every weekend wearing my “Information” uniform, I watch as passengers make their way through; stopping by and looking at the monitors of all flight information, asking about what’s available to eat, where the lavatories are located, etc…
While I pursue my degree in Aviation Management, I take advantage of any opportunity possible to immense myself in the airport environment. What many people aren’t aware of today is that airports throughout the nation are city or county-owned. The airport represents the first essence of the city looking to bring in potential business.
As a result of this, airports have formed these volunteer-based initiatives in order to give off the best first impression and to ensure a positive experience. As I have observed the world of airport management the past few years through various experiences, I can say with certainty that customer service is vital to an airport and region’s economic success. People could sit down for days and talk about the poor customer service they get while traveling.
It’s no secret that it can be a major hassle. Over the past few years, airports have caught on to just how vital a role customer service is to the traveling public. In wake of this, they have established “Airport Ambassador” initiatives, consisting of the “go to” personnel for anyone throughout the airport that needs assistance. Through the years of traveling I’ve done to visit family and friends, I’ve taken on the stresses of overall travel; making sure luggage is less than 50 pounds, the importance of checking bags onto the aircraft, going through airport security as quickly and efficiently as possible, and more.
Add all that together and it can be quite a nightmare. Going off of personal experience as an airport ambassador, I can honestly say being a part of this new vision has been an awesome opportunity. When I’m at work, I put myself in the passenger’s shoes; running late for a flight, the kids aren’t quite through security yet, objects don’t go through the detectors properly, extra screening is required, the final boarding calls for flights are made – I can relate to them perfectly (well, maybe not the having kids part, seeing that I’m a 21-year-old college student).
The satisfaction passengers have when they come up to me for help with their flight itinerary is a priceless reaction. The smallest gestures at times can make a huge difference in someone’s day. This also serves as a chance for real aviation geeks (such as… well, you guessed it, myself) to be a part of the airport industry. Though it’s a volunteer opportunity (i.e. no pay – and we all know a college student really values the meaning of a little extra cash) I can’t complain about being an airport ambassador. What got me involved and obsessed with this industry is the sense of traveling.
The fact that I can walk down an airport terminal, pass numerous travelers and know that by the end of the day, they could be on the other side of the world, or just down the street, is fascinating to me. I knew when I was in middle school what I wanted to do with my life (wow, the irony). As crazy as that sounds, it’s gotten me to where I am today; in a position to study and be involved in something that I absolutely love.
People say if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. Thus far, I completely agree. As this concept starts to kick off around the nation, stop by and ask questions to an airport volunteer when traveling. After all, they want to be there and help you!