Airport Passenger services agent

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Sam Thompson is usually the first point of contact for passengers flying out of an airport. She works as a passenger services agent on the check-in desk, booking in passengers and their luggage.

How would you outline your role?

I make sure passengers are booked on the right flight, and know where and when they are boarding. I also process their luggage.

What is your set work routine?

When I'm working on the check-in desk there is a set routine. I have to check passengers' passports and tickets, allocate seats, check in baggage, and issue boarding cards. I also have to ask a set of security questions and make sure passengers haven't got anything sharp or dangerous with them, in accordance with Department for Transport regulations. I have to be very precise when checking in the luggage to ensure each piece matches up with the right passenger.

Do you work for a particular airline?

No. I work for a company that handles a number of different airlines and each one has a different way of doing things, which you have to learn. There's lots of paperwork involved, some of which we complete manually, while other items like baggage tags are printed out by computers.

Do you only work at the check-in desk?

No. We also work at the boarding gate, announcing when the plane is ready. Sometimes we have to escort passengers out onto the runway area and guide them around the aircraft.We also help disabled passengers and people in wheelchairs to board the aircraft. I also work as a team leader, helping the passenger services co-ordinators to supervise staff and deal with any problems that occur on shift.

What hours do you work?

I do four days on, and four days off, working 12-hour shifts, either from 7.30am to 7.30pm, or 10.00am to 10.00pm.

What's your working environment like?

Most of our work takes place in full glare of the passengers but we do have an operations room where we can go for our breaks.

Who do you work with?

It's quite a small airport, so you get to know everyone, from the rest of the team right through to security and the airline crews.

What special skills or qualities do you need for your job?

You need to be accurate, and make sure things like boarding cards are filled out correctly, otherwise security will stop the passenger from going through. You've also got to be highly motivated, good at customer service and flexible, because the hours are quite unsocial.

Why did you choose this type of work?

It's a challenging job and I like working with the public. It's always exciting working in an airport, and the shifts suit me because I enjoy having different days off each week.

What training have you done?

I did two weeks intense training when I started, going through all the basic procedures and the paperwork, and then shadowing another member of staff on the check-in desk to see how it's all done. There's also a manual-handling course, which teaches you how to lift heavy bags, and how to push wheelchairs.

Do you use any tools or equipment?

Computers play a big role, and we use radios to keep in touch with each other. Outside, on the apron (area around the runway) we wear high visibility vests and ear defenders.

What do you like/dislike about your job?

I enjoy working with different people everyday, but I don't enjoy it when passengers get upset. When they turn up late for their flight they sometimes start blaming us and it can be quite stressful keeping calm.

Sam's route to becoming an airport Passenger services agent

  • GCSEs.
  • A levels at college.
  • Worked at the Inland Revenue.
  • Joined present company after family highlighted vacancies.

Sam's Passenger services agent tips

  • You must enjoy helping people to work in the travel industry.
  • Most work at airports involves working shifts and you must be prepared to work unsociable hours.

Passenger services agent related jobs

  • Air cabin crew
  • Courier
  • Customer services assistant/manager
  • Holiday representative
  • Hotel receptionist
  • Travel agent

Passenger services agent salary information

  • A new passenger services agent earns approximately £11,300, rising to around £13,300 with the extra responsibilities of being a team leader
  • They may also be paid extra for overtime and a shift allowance.

Becoming a Passenger services agent

  • Different employers have different entry requirements.
  • Formal qualifications are not always essential. However, many employers prefer applicants with several GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) including English and mathematics.
  • A qualification in a foreign language or the ability to speak another language is also helpful. A more specialist qualification, such as travel and tourism, can be useful.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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