Best way to handle untrained agent?

Old Feb 23, 20, 8:33 am
  #1  
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Best way to handle untrained agent?

We had a series of flight delays yesterday and today and in the course of trying to get rebooked for the second time we encountered an agent at the ticket counter at IAH who kept insisting that because we were on an award ticket (YN) she could only rebook us on flights with YN availability.

After a few minutes of back and forth the agent next to her took over and did the best he could (flights IAH-BOS were very very full). What I am wondering is are there any magic words to say to an agent to let them know they can rebook onto anything with available space? Or is just asking for a supervisor the best option?
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Old Feb 23, 20, 8:37 am
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Yes. In the same way that one politely ends a phone call, just say that you want to regroup and will be back when you are ready. Then walk away and find someone else. At a fortress hub such as IAH this ought to be relatively easy. Admittedly a bit harder at a small station. In the latter situation, just politely say that it hasn't been your experience and ask the agent to call or find a supervisor.

The key is to disengage without a confrontation.
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Old Feb 23, 20, 9:32 am
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At an outstation, you can always ask that they call the help desk to double check. One person said an agent actually called a coworker at home to prove them wrong but of course, they were right. So that's also worth a shot.
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Old Feb 23, 20, 9:56 am
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Also, you can call and rebook over the phone. While some might say airport agents have more flexibility, Iíve almost always not had a problem getting what I want via a phone agent.

In fact, I will get in the line, and call at the same time, and have the first person to be available win. Usually, when itís a problem with a specific flight Delay/cancelation (as opposed to a systemwide issue, or say, all flights to [insert hub here] issue), I can usually get the phone agent faster to rebook.
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Old Feb 23, 20, 11:51 am
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Originally Posted by Michael Sackton View Post
We had a series of flight delays yesterday and today and in the course of trying to get rebooked for the second time we encountered an agent at the ticket counter at IAH who kept insisting that because we were on an award ticket (YN) she could only rebook us on flights with YN availability.
If you were actually in YN, you could safely ignore her and let her do what she wants. YN has last-seat availability anyway. (YN = Y).
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Old Feb 23, 20, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The key is to disengage without a confrontation.
Good advice for any unsatisfactory customer service experience.
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Old Feb 23, 20, 3:01 pm
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post
Also, you can call and rebook over the phone. While some might say airport agents have more flexibility, Iíve almost always not had a problem getting what I want via a phone agent.
This has been my experience - I get to call the 1K desk so the agents there are usually very clueful, but I've never found a case where a phone rep couldn't do the same thing as a gate agent... I've had phone agents grab me seats on an alternate flight down to ~15 minutes before a departure (during IRROPS)...
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Old Feb 23, 20, 3:41 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
If you were actually in YN, you could safely ignore her and let her do what she wants. YN has last-seat availability anyway. (YN = Y).
Only for elites & credit card holders, tho, I think?
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Old Feb 23, 20, 3:44 pm
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Originally Posted by physioprof View Post
Only for elites & credit card holders, tho, I think?
The inventory itself always equals Y.

If you're referring to accessing YN inventory, yes access is limited to elites and cc holders, but obviously not an issue here given that OP was already booked into YN.
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Old Feb 23, 20, 3:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
The inventory itself always equals Y.

If you're referring to accessing YN inventory, yes access is limited to elites and cc holders, but obviously not an issue here given that OP was already booked into YN.
Good point!
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Old Feb 23, 20, 4:22 pm
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post
Also, you can call and rebook over the phone. While some might say airport agents have more flexibility, Iíve almost always not had a problem getting what I want via a phone agent.

In fact, I will get in the line, and call at the same time, and have the first person to be available win. Usually, when itís a problem with a specific flight Delay/cancelation (as opposed to a systemwide issue, or say, all flights to [insert hub here] issue), I can usually get the phone agent faster to rebook.
Right, especially since with a specific delay, the line forms up fast, and you may do better with a phone call. While it may get heated, that disengaging without confrontation isn't so hard, "let me discuss with may party," or "call my spouse about pickup," that harried agent will be along with the next unhappy passenger very quickly.
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Old Feb 23, 20, 5:08 pm
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The general recommendation is use an agent at the United Club, but also know when to disengage and use the phone, especially if they were not helpful or if there is a long line.

Case in point: We had a IRROP in NRT where the inbound flight was delayed by 3 hours, which means that we were going to miss our connecting flight. There was an alternate flight with business class seats available for 2 of us, but UC agent would not make the change because R space was not available for the new flight. It took 3 calls to the 1K line to have an agent rebooking us on the new flight in business class (partly helped because there was a cabin-to-cabin waiver available due to weather).
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Old Feb 23, 20, 5:19 pm
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I thought the magic words were ďrevenue managementĒ

My serious answer is that I stay very polite but discuss the rule in question clinically using the lexicon as much as possible (e.g. saying IRROPS). Iíve found more often than not that this will lead to the agent willingly checking on the rule and then letting me do whatever it is I wanted to do. Conversely, Iíve noticed that when people make the situation about what theyíre owed instead of making it about what the rule is, things often donít go well.
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Old Feb 23, 20, 5:30 pm
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I had IRROPS at ATW and BIS last summer. Agents proactively called the help desk without prompting to resolve the issues at hand. Now, at outstations, if an agent was having an issue, I would not hesitate to suggest, in a friendly manner, to the agent to contact the help desk.
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Old Feb 23, 20, 7:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post

The key is to disengage without a confrontation.
Unfortunately often easier said than done, especially if the agent's very act, refusal to give you consideration, or attitude is itself confrontational. The rules are the agents can be as unhelpful, nasty, uncompromising, ignorant and/or inconsiderate as they wish, but the customer is supposed to keep smiling and say thank you....
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