Even though the airlines are in business to transport people from one place to another, they could not function without the help of many people on the ground, including those who take reservations and sell tickets, as well as those who help keep the airplanes operating on schedule.
Ticket agents work at an airport ticket counter using computers to provide customer service to incoming passengers. Responsibilities include a full range of customer service functions. They assist passengers with tagging luggage and baggage check in, ticketing, makes and/or changes reservations, seat assignment, answers inquiries about flight schedules and fares, verifies reservations by phone, figures fares and handles payments. The ticket agent also provides directions to departure gates.
In addition to working at the airport ticket counter, ticket agents may also work at an airline ticket office downtown or in a hotel. Airline ticket agents may also be stationed at boarding gates at the airport. At the gates, they are responsible for processing and boarding passengers. This includes handling seat or schedule conflicts, making boarding announcements, checking and collecting tickets at the boarding gate, and assisting handicapped passengers as they board or depart the aircraft. Other duties may include, dispatching flights from the gate, and notifying flight attendants about any special needs for specific passengers, such as a child flying alone or a disabled passenger.
Ticket counters usually operate 24 hours a day at the airport, and offer a wide variety of work schedules. Ticket agents must have the ability to work varied shifts and schedules including evenings, weekends, holidays and some overtime. Each airline has its own policy for such work schedules.
Because ticket agents play a highly visible role at the airport, they are required to wear uniforms and identification.
Working conditions may include standing continuously up to four hours at a time and working in peroidic elevated noise levels. Ticket agents must be able to handle stressful situations. One of the most frustrating elements of being a ticket agent, is the inability to control the weather or aircraft maintenance problems. Such problems can ultimately lead to angry passengers. It is the ticket agents responsibility to provide excellent customer service and handle these situations in a courteous manner. Courteous behavior is essential, especially when dealing with difficult customers or passengers.
Typical Requirements and/or Experience
Depending on the airline, the minimum age requirement varies from 18 to 20 years. Because ticket agents work directly with passengers, airlines like to see a customer service and/or sales background along with excellent verbal and written communication skills, basic typing and computer skills, and ability to perform basic mathematics. Ticket agents must have the ability to work without close supervision, and have a general knowledge of geography. Cash handling and credit card transaction experience is helpful. Foreign language skills may be required.
A well groomed appearance, respect for details and accuracy, a pleasant and courteous manner, and legible handwriting are essential. The ticket agent must have the ability to lift, push, or pull checked baggage up to 100 pounds repeatedly and/or up to 50 pounds frequently.
Airline ticket counters usually operate 24 hours at the airport, and therefore offer a wide variety of work schedules. Ticket agents must have the ability to work varied shifts and schedules including days, evenings, weekends, holidays and some overtime.
Typically, employment is contingent upon successful completion of a a background check and pre-employment drug screening required by the FAA.
Airlines do require that applicants have a high school diploma or GED, however, a college degree is preferred.
Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.
It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.
Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:
All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;
Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;
All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;
Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.
Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.
Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.
EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.
Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/
Wages and Benefits
Working as an airline ticket agent is a very exciting and rewarding career with outstanding benefits. Wages vary widely depending on employer and location, with larger airlines usually offering the most competitive salaries. The pay is better than many other fields for individuals that do not have a college degree but do have a high school diploma. Wages are paid hourly and can range from $18,500 to 31,200 annually. Some airlines may provide an additional allowance for purchasing and maintaining uniforms.
Typical benefits include free travel privileges, 401(k), medical, dental and vision insurance, and paid training. Benefits may vary for part-time and full-time positions.
Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.
Where the jobs are and who hires
Ticket counters are located in every city in which the airline serves. Generally, ticket agents work for the airlines at major airports near large metropolitan areas or cities. Ticket counters are located in every city in which the airlines serve, with the majority of ticket agents being employed at main hubs. Several cities which airlines consider their key hub include Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco and Dallas. These cities make up a substantial number of all airline ticket agents.
Because ticket agent jobs require little education and offer great benefits, expect to face intense competition when applying. Many individuals who want a career with the airlines start in this type of position to get their foot in the door.
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Opportunities for Advancement
Since ticket agent positions are entry level, there is ample opportunity for advancement. A ticket agent may be promoted to passenger service agent, station agent, or chief of the ticket office. He or she also may become a ticketing instructor, or join the airline staff as a sales representative. Superior employees are often considered for junior management training. Though competition is keen, airline ticket agents may advance to a supervisory position or training position.
Outlook for the Future
Technology has made a significant impact on the number of ticket agent jobs available. Many airlines are moving to automated "ticket less" travel and therefore have reduced the need for some workers. However, despite what the Internet and future technology brings, ticket agent job openings will continue to become available as workers leave for retirement, new occupations, promotions etc. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "passenger services can never be fully automated, primarily for safety and security reasons".
Ticket agent job availability is dependant on the economy. "During recessions, discretionary passenger travel declines, and transportation service companies are less likely to hire new workers and even may resort to layoffs," states the Occupational Outlook handbook.
On-the-job training is provided especially on the computers and specific airline policies and procedures. Although employers provide on-the-job training, there are training courses are available. Training courses provide experience and, in some cases, internships. Students are provided with a certificate upon completion of the course. Such certificates improve your credentials and may put you at an advantage when seeking employment.
To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.
Why did you become an Airline Ticket Agent?
For the flying benefits.
Would you encourage others to become involved? Why?
Yes, if you are interested in travel and people.
How does one prepare for this career? (Training, certificate, degree, etc.)
Have a customer service background, and learn to deal well with people.
What skills or abilities do you think someone should have before entering this field?
Customer service and sales experience.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Flying around the world and meeting all kinds of new people.
What is the most frustrating thing about your job?
You do not always have a set schedule, and the rules changed quit frequently.
What pleasant things happened that balance the stress of this job?
Meeting interesting people and your coworkers.
How do you deal with the stress involved in working with angry airline passengers (suggestions for others)?
Try to empathize with them and kill them with kindness.
How is math used on a daily basis? Please provide an example.
Most things are computerized.
What is the most unusual thing that has happened to you as an Airline Ticket Agent?
Meeting famous people and making good friends.
How is communication used daily? Can you provide an example of a problem with communication/listening and how you solved it?
You are constantly dealing with others and communication is not the same with all people.
How are decisions part of your daily job? Please provide an example. How would an Airline Ticket Agent make such a decision?
Without having a supervisor, many times you have to decide what is acceptable and what is not.
What do you find rewarding about your job?
Happy customers, and making them happy.
What stereotypes or misconceptions exist about this field (and what is the truth behind them)?
That it is a glamorous job, but it is a lot of hard work.
Do you have a personal work philosophy that has driven you to accomplish what you have?
Do your best, no matter what the situation is.
What advice would you give someone pursuing this field?
Don't give up, work hard, you will be rewarded in the end.
What future do you see with this field? (The Occupational Outlook Handbook suggests this field is overloaded with people. Do you agree? Why or why not?)
No. There is a very high turnover rate in this field.
What is the average starting pay for an Airline Ticket Agent?
Around $10.00 per hour, but it depends on the company.
Do you think the use of computers will help this field grow, or require fewer Airline Ticket Agents?
I think it will help it grow. There will always be problems that actual people have to deal with.