With the recent surge of flight cancellations came a surge of calls into travel customer service lines from stranded passengers seeking rebooking help. It was reported that many travelers were met with extensive wait times and poor customer service with airlines and other travel providers. But according to Alison Tonet, vice president of Traveler Care at American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), our team was prepared for the flood of calls and chat queries.
“From an accessibility perspective, we’ve been meeting and exceeding our service level agreements, even with all these cancellations,” Alison said. “Aside from bringing our travel counselors back in the spring and proactive recruitment, we also have programs where our virtual-based travel counselors sign up in advance for these situations and we can quickly add staff to support the extra volume.”
Not only do we respond quickly, but we’re also able to get issues resolved at lighting speed – even when tens of thousands of trapped travelers are fighting for seats on the same flights.
“Because of GBT’s leading place in the market, we have very strong relationships with our airline partners and the ability to obtain quick answers for our business travelers ” Alison explained.
Despite the mass cancellations, we know how important it is for you to get to your destination on time. Whether it’s to help get you to a high-priority meeting across the country or back home to catch your child’s soccer championship, we will do whatever we can to make it happen – and when we succeed, Alison and our Traveler Care team often hear from clients expressing their gratitude.
Take the vice president from a manufacturing company who was traveling from Sarasota, Fla., to Minneapolis recently. Because her flight from Sarasota was delayed, she missed her connection in Atlanta. Even though it was imperative she arrive in Minneapolis that night, things looked grim with all available seats on the evening flight gone within minutes, according to her administrative assistant who wrote on her manager’s behalf. But one of our counselors continued monitoring the sold-out flight. Two hours later when a seat opened up, he pounced on it and the exec was able to make it to Minneapolis that night.
“I felt compelled to let you know how much my manager and I appreciated his attentiveness, dedication, and follow-through,” wrote the assistant. “[The counselor] is outstanding – a rock star.”
In addition to nabbing coveted airline seats, our travel counselors also can assist with securing a refund or credit from the airline when there’s a cancellation.
This happened with a travel manager at a financial software company who had to cancel a personal trip to Canada right before Christmas. Even though she had booked the flight directly with the airline, she called us to intervene after the carrier said to call back five days later. The travel manager reported that our counselor was able to get through to the airline in 10 minutes, get the trip canceled, and a credit back into her account promptly.
In the era of COVID-19, we’re also helping clients manage new travel realities. For example, our travel counselors are assisting travelers with positive COVID-19 tests navigate reentry rules and regulations – to determine things like whether they will need to present a negative PCR to get back or stay for the entire isolation period as defined by the country.
An executive at a major bank recently emailed us to share how well taken care of he was when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 while traveling with his family to Singapore. When he called the airline’s top-tier line to find out about his options flying home, there was over a five-hour wait. So he called GBT’s after-hours line, even though this was a personal trip. The counselor was happy to help, taking his contact information and following up later with his options.
“She was awesome, empathetic, gracious, and knew her stuff,” the executive said about the counselor assisting him.
What compels us to go the extra mile for our clients? Besides the satisfaction of being a problem solver for them, we know what’s at stake when people cannot get to the places they need to be.
An exec who missed his flight from New York City to San Francisco due to traffic and long security lines encapsulated this sentiment well in an email to us. Initially, he thought his only option was to fly out the next day, which would mean he’d miss half of his business trip. But then he called us for support and was met with a counselor whose “exceptional willingness to help over 45 minutes” enabled him to get to San Francisco that same day.
“Given how rarely companies get people together in this COVID period and the necessity of in-person planning for 2022, missing this portion of my trip would have been a real setback to my team,” he wrote. “I’m very grateful to this counselor, and I think she’s a great credit to your team. I’m glad to see the culture that you and other managers are fostering at GBT.”
Contact us to learn more about the ways our Traveler Care team can assist travelers.