Back in the fall American Airlines decided to eliminate their home-based reservations agents. They found customers were using call centers less and the airline’s website and mobile app more, so they had too many agents, and after making cuts to the technology that off-site agents used they found there were technical problems. Plus leases on office buildings they used to bring agents in for training were coming due.
Here was the plan at the time:
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
After the American Airlines earnings call senior leadership met virtually with employees for a town hall question and answer. Shortly after the session JonNYC tweeted out that American was reconsidering its decision (which would be the most obvious move in the history of earth, considering CDC research of a call center clusters spreading Covid-19).
-Robert isom: Operational performance has been stellar, a big thank you to everybody that makes that happen
-Work from home res agents has worked well.People who are currently working from home will continue to work from home,and this may even be expanded since it's working well
— JonNYC (@xJonNYC) July 23, 2020
Reviewing a recording of the actual discussion though it seems far less definitive. Alison Taylor, Chief Customer Officer, offers:
Working for home as done really well for the reservations team. Thank you for being so adaptable to the new work environment. For the forseeable future anyone with reservations that’s currently working from home will continue working from home. And we are re-evaluating some of the decisions that were made prior to Covid.
A spokesperson for the airline further tells me that they are “still evaluating” whether or not to eliminate the home-based reservations agent program and there are “no changes for now.”