American Airlines Eliminating Home-Based Reservations Agents

As if it’s not hard enough to get through on the phone when bad weather hits as it is, American Airlines is closing their Reno reservations office, and eliminating home-based reservations agents. They explain that’s because:

  • Their three largest reservation centers “DFW RES, INT RES and PHX RES” are “increasingly underutilized.”

  • And the technology American uses for home-based agents is poor (“we have inconsistencies in the way that we operate, with our home-based reps (HBRs) experiencing more technical issues, and attending team meetings and training in suboptimal facilities.”)

The Reno office will close in March when their lease expires, and agents will no longer work out of their homes based on the reservations center they’re attached to:

  • DFW RES HBR program: April 26, 2020
  • TUS RES HBR program: Targeting Q4 2020
  • MIA RES HBR program: Targeting Q2 2021
  • BDL RES HBR program: Targeting Q2 2021
  • ORF RES HBR program: Targeting Q2 2021
  • RDU RES HBR program: Targeting Q4 2021

Existing agents will be allowed to move to one of the 3 ‘underutilized’ centers, or be furloughed.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. If only this meant that service from AA reps on the phone would improve and if hold/wait times for a live agent would drop. But we are talking about AA, an AA where making the average customer experience worse has been the way for quite some time now.

  2. Gary, what’s your suggestion for needing to call in when weather is bad/wait times are long (especially for no-status passengers)? Are the international phone numbers worth it?

  3. Fantastic. Hate homebased agents, no one to monitor them, slower to get answers, work when they feel like it and transfer system sucks. This makes good business sense. Hopefully, we are starting to see improvements in customer experience from AA.

  4. LOL: Pretty soon you will hear an Indian accent when you call a reservation center. What is the corporate word for outsourcing and firing people. Right, increased synergies to improve service while reducing costs.

  5. Nice gig working from home. Now they will be faced with fluorescent lights and office politics. I feel bad for them. Some people really enjoy an office environment that slowly seeps time and sucks the life out of them. I never did. I always worked in the field.

  6. This announcement is insane! Translation: “you will no longer have a job according to this closure schedule starting six months from now.”. The best of those working from home/remotely will leave first. And soon. AABoard needs to find new leadership. And this is from a 19 year EP with 3.96 million miles who is now happily flying DL.

  7. Yikes! I love the North Carolina CSA who work from home. Never encountered tech problems. They’re knowledgeable, understandable, and friendly

    AA sucks. When’s the new person showing up to change this plane around?

  8. More importantly WHY isnt the Cary(RDUSero) office an option for transfer? Its the heart of ConciergeKey, it makes zero sense unless more problems are down the road for Sero. It broke my heart to leave CK and the job I loved, but unfortunately I wasnt about to stick around when there was so much uncertainty being thrown our way. I got an amazing offer from a company that truly invests in their home based agents. It was hard leaving my beloved office coworkers and HBRs, but my heart breaks for the current state of affairs for the over 1700 HBRs affected..and now a darker cloud around the future of Sero.

  9. Bill n DC: Thank you for your vote of confidence and support of us HBRs. I am an NC HBR and I love my job and value my passengers and am so upset about this decision. It’s unfortunate that consumers like sunviking82 have the opposite opinion…I’m guessing that person just assumes that any negative experience they have comes from an HBR vs. OBR without knowing where that agent’s chair actually sits. Thank you again for your support.

  10. This is to Sunviking82
    You have no idea what you are talking about. I happen to be one of those home based agents, trust me when I tell you we are attached to our headsets, which btw is the only thing that AA supplies. We pay for our own equipment, internet and phone line and get paid less than office based workers. As monitors everything we do, there is no downtime. We certainly don’t work “when we feel like it” we have a set schedule and have to be logged on when scheduled , otherwise we have occurrences.
    So please if you don’t know first hand then refrain from ignorant comments

  11. @GaryLeff Full? it’s a ghost town on a good day in many departments. This is the deal, they HAVE space, additional classrooms ALREADY set up to take calls. They also have the opportunity to expand due to space opening in the building, easy to set up sets and phones for overflow. The bigger question is if they will invest in an arcade in DFW why not meet the need at RDU instead of losing so many agents? Because there are a lot who can’t choose to transfer to a place in Winston that’s not only 90 minutes away but also has been dealing with bedbugs…underutilized? well the exterminators have been way OVER utilized. The whole situation of constantly having this rumor over the Cary/Ral office of shutting down and going to Winston, and now there’s NO room at the in for Sero? I think its more backing to the concern that they truly are letting it go, but will hold out for the last round of furloughs…to unleash yet another low blow to their staff.

  12. Sadly this will rive me even further from AAwful …. as a mid tier the kindest ear and the most proactive folks I have worked with in IIROPS have been the home based folk – same for AS / and WN

  13. This a a huge blow to us as HBR (notified via email)! No Union communication or fight for our rights! Excuses that the technology used for HBR is ridiculous and not true! If this were true, then get something that does work!!! We should not be punished because AA cannot get it together. The office is a nasty, filthy, noisy place to work with does not allow representatives to service the passengers property and HBR can do a much better job! This is horrible – just horrible!!!

  14. AA needs to eliminate their management team before anything else!!!!

    Customers hate the airline.

    Employees hate the airline.

    Investors hate the airline.

    It is time to stop with these snuggly little tweeks and turn AA into a serious business that gives a shit about their customers, employees and investors. It might as well be being run by so-called president Donny Drumpf, who also only cares about his own interests – that the executives feel this way, and run the airline this way has been evident for WAY too long!!!!!

  15. The amount of mandatory overtime all Reservations Agents have worked this year, and conversely the amount of time customers have spent on hold makes American’s assertion that agents in the three largest offices are underutilized beyond laughable. This is just more proof that the company is great at preaching the importance of Elevating the Customer Experience but absolutely awful at actually creating policies, giving employees tools, or making employees feel like it’s actually important. The only that matters to the folks at Skyview 8 is the almighty dollar. The rest of us be damned, be we customers or employees… It’s a sad day.

  16. When I call American Airlines the recording will say the hold is too long. It then says call back at another time and hangs up on me. Since American Airlines will have even less people to assist customers, how will they be able to take my money and make me a reservation? Is management trying to intentionally sabotage their carrier? How do these changes help passengers who they already do not have time for?

  17. As a HBR agent, when weather was bad and people had hard times getting to the offices HBR stepped in. I had no problem jumping on assisting people with their travel plans. When systems went down in office and the power went out, HBR agents stepped in. While most agents were in the basements with tornado warnings going on HBR agents stepped in. The system was subpar because money wasn’t spent on updating the system and providing tech support. HBR agents bought their computers, provided their internet and phone lines. It was made to look like HBR agents failed but you can’t fail at a system that was never designed to succeed.

  18. They have been out to get HBRS since the merger it was just a matter of time. He has NEVER been a fan and I’m sure if he didn’t think it would be a disaster(like when aa.com) was sent over seas he would do it in a heartbeat! I’m sure he is trying to get all of the senior high paid agents to retire. DEFINITELY NOT THE SAME AA …BUMMED

  19. Doug Parker needs to go. The mandatory overtime all summer. Reservations has had so many people retire in DFW alone and the company will not hire. Doug Parker has ran the company into the ground stock has put not rebounded since the merger. The Reservation Centers are loud and hard to hear in. The person next to you speaks louder than you and your passenger thinks you are speaking to them. The Reservation Centers are not a healthy environment. People come to work sick and spread it around the building then you have bugs. American Airlines likes to micro manage and always has. They had a system in place and home based reservations did much better when it was company equipment. We had electricity go down at least four times this summer. Due to the summer heat the electricity company rotates outages. It is a sad day to see the home based reservations go away. Some people has disabilities and could work from home. This is a form of layoffs.

  20. lets Focus on the real problems. DP does not care about his employees or passengers. The only thing he cares about is MONEY.

    Let’s talk about profit sharing. American brings in billions of dollars, even though American went bankrupt prior to the merger, Usairways employees would get roughly depending on how much you worked, a pretty hefty profit share check. (Thousands of dollars come mid March) Since usairways bought American out of bankruptcy, employees are lucky to see couple hundred dollars if that. How much of that is DP actually pocketing?

    American has said they will be hiring early 2020. This should help with the call volume to go down. Either stop letting your employees take volunteer time off most of the day and pay employees to take phone calls. That will drop the high holding percentage. Being more concerned with saving a few dollars than passengers trying to call in for flight delays or making changes to their reservations is a huge disservice.
    Long hold times is a disservice!

    American needs to make some huge changes if they want to stay afloat.

    Treat employees with respect and you will see a better outcome! Starts with employees caring more about passengers, going “above and beyond” to help, as employees are trained to do. Happy employees equals happier passengers! Treat the employees with more respect and show you actually care (being more than just a number) and I am sure you will see a huge difference.

  21. Yeah, I get an Above and Beyond for fixing a very complicated problem so our elite member can board, it was a previous agent error. THEN I get a management coaching on spending the extra time, which would’ve meant the passenger wouldnt have boarded..and I took that hit because I refuse to throw passengers away for MY stats. I loved my job but it was clear my passion for service was never appreciated.

  22. I was a lifelong American Airlines customer until 2017, now Delta/ Alaska and sometimes Southwest. United employee’s are rude, American’s CEO and down the ladder now only do they not care but are arrogant. Airlines never should hwve been allowed to merge, they are to big, don’t care about anything but herd you on, herd you off and nickel and dime you more than goverment.

  23. We’re a very successful Luxury Cruise Travel Agency and have no outside travel agents working remotely. All our team are full time employees with benefits and work in our one home office. Far better productivity with our workforce.

  24. Sunviking82 You have no clue. Home based is tracked every minute they are on duty. Their brakes, lunches, the time they put a call on hold for and the amount of time they talk to each caller.
    The transfer system is the same as in the office has nothing to do with being home based!
    Many of the home based agents have transferred and chose to stay with American more than once. Give them a break not easy to just pickup and leave family and friends. Jet blue, amex and many other companies have people that work from home. They all work fine. If there are too many tech issues they should be looking a the system they have.Or maybe American should have thought about weeding out the ones that are a problem if that’s the case.
    American should be as committed to their employees like many of them were to American. Many go ABOVE AND BEYOND for American and their customer service!!!!

  25. I came into AA thinking I had found my forever job. So many of the people that I met at AA had been there for 15 to 25 years or longer, That’s always a good sign that the company takes care of its employees, but a lot was happening when I came on the merger had happened and there was now a Union, which if you ask me really let the HBR team down. I thought that was what our Union was for to watch our backs and not let the big guys like DP take our jobs from us. I loved my job I was really good at it and I cared about our passengers. and I always did everything in my power to help them. If there was bad weather didn’t matter I was already at the office, If I didn’t feel good I would still work it’s easier when you are home to just push through, I know I would have called out if I had had to go into the office. And if the roads are bad I am not going to put my life in danger for AA/DP. As for the equipment not being adequate, I don’t believe it I have only had my AA equipment not work maybe 3 or 4 times in the last 4 years and it was small things like it just froze and I had to reload the page and sign back in. The only time I have had any big problems was when someone hit a powerline near my house and I just went into the off and worked. And as for our computers, we have to buy our own and we pay for our internet and our phone line. The only thing AA gave me was my headset and my phone. To me, making the HBR agents come into the office it just seems like a big step backward, We all know that we need more agents but AA/DP will not hire. It seems like this is a way to clean house. I don’t think for one minute this is for our passengers.

    My heart goes out to all of my AA family the agents in RNO and all of the HBR agents.
    Stay strong and take care of yourself… Do what is best for you and your life. you only get ONE.

  26. @sunviking82 you are very educated when it becomes to HBR. I work from home in the travel industry, but not for an airline. We have no issues with transferring, answering calls, assisting people, etc. We are attached to headsets and have set schedules and trust me, they know when you aren’t there or aren’t on time. Get a clue before you open your mouth and look like a fool! I have worked with a bunch of the AA home based agents, and they seem to be nicer and more at ease than the ones that work in the call centers, by far! As many problems as I have had with American Airlines, personally, over the last year, the agents I deal with on a daily basis, most of which are home based, have been very pleasant. It is no different than being in an office, without the commute.

  27. I use to be elite with AA when I worked in South America and wasn’t impressed or depressed by the airline. Then I called AA to book mileage seats to fly on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and the agent said he never heard of Cathay Pacific. I asked if I could speak to someone who has heard of them and he said he didn’t know who would know this. I ended up hanging up on this poorly trained agent and called back and it took nearly an hour to book SFO-HKG.
    Since this time I’ve been fortunate to stay away and use other carriers 90% of my time.

  28. Leave it to AA to move remote employees back into the office which is totally against the grain of most jobs these days. Also doing this is a super-strong job market with record-low unemployment should work well.

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