The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about customer care at airlines and some of the findings were quite interesting. The article stated that United Airlines, with the highest rate of complaints filed at the DOT among major airlines the past three years, has a team of 450 customer-care agents handling general issues and refunds and 400 people handling frequent flyer program issues.
Southwest Airlines uses sophisticated software to sort by keywords in the customer’s messages into four personality categories and then responds according to the customer’s category. The 200 agents tasked with this job are usually entry-level college graduates. Southwest also employs proofreaders.
Delta’s customer care agents get letter-writing training and are experienced airport agents. Delta employs 150 people to respond to complaints and will often offer frequent flyer miles as a goodwill gesture. The airline no longer uses form letters in response to complaints while American Airlines customizes a library of responses it has written over the years.
In general, if a high-level frequent flyer complains, they will be offered more miles as compensation than a customer who does not fly as much. And sometimes airlines are proactive and send emails with offers of miles or discounts before the travelers get home during unusual delays or cancellations.