Airline Customer Service Agent Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an airline customer service career? Get real job duties, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming an airline customer service agent is right for you.
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An Airline Customer Service Agent Career: Pros and Cons

Airline customer service agents assist passengers with travel details that take place before and after a flight. Review the following pros and cons and consider if this career is a good fit for you.

Pros of an Airline Customer Service Agent Career
Travel benefits*
No education beyond high school is usually required*
Work is available in many locations*
No previous airline industry experience is required*

Cons of an Airline Customer Service Agent Career
Hours may be unusual since many airports operate around the clock*
Jobs may be seasonal or temporary***
Work may be repetitive**
Passengers may be angry and present you with conflicts**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET Online, ***Careerbuilder.com

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Airline customer service agents ensure that passengers reach their destination and experience friendly customer service along the way. Many work in airports, but employment in this field is also available at call centers and off-site properties. Job duties include confirming flight reservations, selling tickets, checking baggage and providing information to travelers. Depending on the size of the airline you are employed with, you may also be tasked with physically managing baggage, assisting in aircraft communications and providing safety documentation.

To work as an airline customer service agent, you may need to prepare for long or irregular hours since flights may be arriving or departing at odd hours. Passengers who are experiencing delays or who have encountered other adverse situations may be angry and you'll need patience and a strong sense of customer service to diffuse conflicts. Be prepared to use computers, answer phones, troubleshoot ticketing machines and deal with customers face-to-face.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that airline ticket agents earned a median annual income of about $33,990 in 2013. According to the most recent job outlook statistics, the BLS predicted that the employment of reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks would decrease by fourteen percent from 2012-2022.

What Are the Requirements?

You do not need to have any postsecondary education for entry-level airline customer service agent positions. Most training for airline customer service agents occurs on-the-job and is provided by employers. However, employers may require certain characteristics. You'll need to possess skills in customer service, social perceptiveness and problem solving and have the ability to stay calm in stressful situations.

What Employers Are Looking for

Specific requirements vary from employer to employer. Take a look at the postings below from March 2012 to get an idea of what employers might be looking for.

  • A regional airport in Indiana is filling a part-time airline passenger service agent position. Candidates must be willing and able to perform both customer service and ramp operation duties, including ticket sales and reservations, jet bridge operations and aircraft management.
  • In Virginia, a position is open for a weekend passenger service agent. Candidates with international flight experience are preferred. Applicants must be able to pass a background check and available to work on any day of the week.
  • A seasonal passenger service agent is needed to work at a large Illinois airport. Bilingual applicants will have an edge. This job involves assisting unaccompanied minors, helping customers with lost luggage and directing passengers.
  • In Maine, an airline passenger service agent is needed to assist in the physical management of luggage and aircraft as well as provide ticket sales and customer service. Applicants must have a valid driver's license, be at least 18 years old and meet physical requirements.

How to Beat the Competition

Having experience in customer service jobs could give you a huge advantage. If you're in high school, you could pick up a part-time job that gives you experience in a customer service environment. Getting experience in the airline industry can give you an edge if you're hoping to work for a major airline, so gaining experience through a contracting company could be a good start.

If you're interested in obtaining postsecondary education, colleges offer programs that could make you more desirable to employers. Some colleges may offer a certificate program for passenger service workers. This program may cover reservation systems, customer service procedures and airport security measures. An associate's degree in aviation administration could be a solid option if you want to increase you opportunities for advancement. Courses in an aviation administration program may include airline marketing, airline safety and airline industry operations.

Develop Related Skills

Fluency in foreign languages can be useful in many career fields, but it is particularly handy in the travel industry. Since passengers can arrive from anywhere in the world, being able to communicate in more than one language can make you stand out. The specific language you should learn depends on the area you'd prefer to work in. For example, if you're hoping to work for an airline that flies to Mexico, then learning to speak Spanish could give you a big advantage over other applicants.

Other Careers to Consider

Flight Attendant

If you want to serve passengers in the airline industry and want to do some traveling yourself, consider becoming as a flight attendant. You'll work onboard flights to ensure that passengers are safe and properly accommodated. Hours may be irregular, and you'll need to be able to work with many groups of people, remain calm in emergency situations and pay attention to detail. To become a flight attendant, you'll need training from your employer and a license from the Federal Aviation Administration. College graduates are generally preferred, but some airlines may require only a high school diploma. Your earning potential is much higher as a flight attendant; the BLS reported that flight attendants earned an average annual income of roughly $37,240 in 2012. However, even though your earnings may be much higher, job outlook for flight attendants is projected to decrease 7 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to BLS.

Receptionist

Receptionists perform many of the same duties as airline customer service agents, but they can work in just about any industry. They answer phones, perform administrative tasks and assist customers. Similar to airline customer service agents, receptionists should have good communication skills and be able to work with all kinds of people. Most employers only require receptionists to have a high school diploma. This career should have great job prospects; the BLS predicted that receptionists would experience a 14% increase in employment opportunities between 2012 and 2022. The BLS reported that receptionists earned an average salary of about $25,990 in 2012.

Travel Agent

As a travel agent, you'll help customers plan all aspects of their trips including lodging, travel and entertainment. Many employers give priority to agents who are formally trained, but a high school diploma is all that is usually required. Many travel agents work for agencies, but you may also find opportunities for self-employment. The BLS reported that the job outlook for travel agents has a 12 percent decline for 2012 to 2022. According to the BLS, travel agents have a median pay of about $34,600 in 2012.

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Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BSBA - Investment
  • AASBA in Customer Service
  • Associate: Business Admin.

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Saint Leo University

  • BA: Business Administration - Management
  • BA: Business Administration - Logistics
  • AA: Business Administration

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Grand Canyon University

  • MBA
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

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Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business

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Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Business
  • Master of Business Administration - General Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Business - General Management

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership

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Colorado Christian University

  • Business Administration, MBA
  • Business Administration, B.S.
  • Business Administration, A.S.

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Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

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