American Airlines May Keep Home-Based Reservations Agents, After All

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).

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.”

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, 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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  1. They have no choice but to do so. Why? People aren’t too enthusiastic about always talking to a virtual chat bot. Working from home thing is good for companies to keep people actively employed. People need human interaction. Next thing you know, 1/2 the world will virtually rely on automation come 2050. If we live to see that long.

  2. They do have a choice. Call Center employee can be considered essential (like at my company) but we too found a way to connect people from home to service our customers. While our call centers are lightly staff for crisis, we are continuing to keep most people at home.

    AA and others will find a blend/mix of in the office and at home is the future of our work style post COVID.

  3. I wish you would do an article about airlines employing Foreign National flight attendants while in the process of furloughing thousands of USA flight attendants! Please report on this!

  4. @Jack Bouse – airline employees based outside the U.S. are still employees, and your colleagues. furloughs are done based on the union contract your representatives have negotiated. don’t focus your ire on other employees, that just splits you when you are probably better off unified.

  5. I. Have seen a lot of companies going with the work from home as it saves utilities rent call outs for fake sick time and the employees use their own computers internet and phones. Employees do not have to drive to work, arrive on time, there is no office chat, no long lunches, no I have to leave my kid is home sick, no paying for parking, less car accident s. And ad employer I can monitor productivity by how they log in , out put and results.

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