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American Airlines - Customer Service Complaints Team of the Year

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Company: American Airlines, Ft. Worth, TX
Company Description: American Airlines and American Eagle offer an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American has hubs in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. Connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Customer Service Complaints Team of the Year - All Other Industries

Nomination Title: American Airlines Entry - Special Service for a World War II Veteran

Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since the beginning of July 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

Teamwork makes the dream work! That’s a phrase American Airlines Customer Relations team members exemplify each day when taking care of our customers.

This fall, Customer Relations staffers joined with other American Airlines team members to go above and beyond to make a memorable travel experience for a 94-year-old World War II veteran. It started when Customer Relations team member Norell Starr received an email from customer Tom Galbraith about his father, William P. Galbraith, a member of the 101st Airborne. Tom explained that he would be traveling with his father to Toccoa, Ga. where the 101st Airborne originated, and wanted to know if there was anything American Airlines could do to upgrade his father from Main Cabin to First Class, or give him special recognition on his flight.

Norell brought the email to the attention of her Lead, Stephanie Mastorakos. Stephanie happens to have a strong military presence in her family and holds the military close to her heart.

“My grandfathers were in the Air Force and Navy, and my brother is a Marine, so I jumped into action,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie reached out to Kathy Offenhauser, a Baggage Operations analyst for American’s Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Customer Care team, whose father was also part of the 101st Airborne. Kathy was more than happy to help. She got in touch with airport staff, who advised that agents at the gate were going to make an announcement about Mr. Galbraith when he pre-boarded. However, he wasn’t at the gate when boarding began, so the agents asked a flight attendant to make an announcement onboard. In addition to the announcement, the team coordinated a cockpit tour and an upgrade to First Class.

Coincidentally, Mr. Galbraith’s inbound and outbound flight was at DFW airport’s gate C4, where an array of military memorabilia is on display. He had some time between flights to look over the display, and Kathy took a moment to meet with him personally.

“I visited with Mr. Galbraith and asked him if he remembered my dad,” she said. “Unfortunately, he did not. There aren’t many of these heroes left.”

DFW Airport Customer Service Manager Leila Ting, who re-arranged the Galbraiths’ seats and briefed the outbound flight, was also at the gate when the Galbraiths arrived.

“I had asked the captain on the inbound to make an announcement, which he did very nicely,” said Leila. “The captain served in the Marines. He actually waited until Mr. Galbraith deplaned the aircraft to walk with him up the jet way to the podium.”

Tom Galbraith wrote back a heartwarming letter of thanks saying:

“Thank you for the fabulous treatment given to my father, William P. Galbraith. When airline personnel learned that he is a WWII combat wounded veteran, they pulled out all the stops. You all made the day very memorable for us all. I am grateful to all of you.”

It took a lot of moving parts to get the job done, but it was a resounding success and a great example of how American Airlines teams work together to honor our veterans.

“I love being able to go above and beyond for passengers with special requests, especially our veterans,” Stephanie said.