Airline Reservations Agent
Airline Reservations Agent
Education and Training High school
Salary Median—$27,750 per year
Employment Outlook Poor
Definition and Nature of the Work
Airline reservations agents help customers book flights on major airlines. When customers call to make reservations, agents enter the destination and desired date and time into the airline's computer system. It locates available flights and the best connections if more than one flight is necessary. It also determines the cost of the flights. Agents relay this information to customers and help them find the right itinerary for their needs. When the customers have chosen flights, the agents book the reservations. They take the customers' names, telephone numbers, and credit card information. Agents also apply any discounts or upgrades for which the customers may be eligible and help them choose seats and types of meals (if available). They also provide information about airport security and baggage requirements. Sometimes they provide information about hotels and rental cars.
Using the same technology, reservations agents can cancel or change reservations when customers request it. They also answer telephone inquiries about arrival and departure times and flight schedules.
Education and Training Requirements
Applicants for reservations positions must have high school diplomas or the equivalent. A growing number of employers prefer to hire applicants who have attended college. Prior office experience is helpful. Typing skills are necessary. Some airlines require knowledge of foreign languages.
Airlines provide four-week training courses that cover Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and regulations, customer service procedures, and technological issues.
Getting the Job
The Web sites of the major airlines list any job openings and provide information about application procedures. Usually, job seekers can apply directly to personnel departments. The Air Transport Association of America, school placement offices, Internet job sites, and newspaper classified ads can provide employment leads as well.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Airline reservations agents frequently become senior airline agents or traffic or sales representatives. Some become flight attendants. Additional education, including college degrees, may be necessary for advancement to some senior jobs.
Employment of reservations agents is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2014. The need for new agents is declining as more and more consumers make reservations, purchase tickets, and check in for their flights on the Internet. Most openings occur when experienced reservations agents retire or leave the field.
Most of their work is limited to telephone conversations, so reservations agents have little personal contact with passengers. Agents usually work forty-hour weeks, which may include night and weekend shifts. They usually work in large offices.
Earnings and Benefits
In 2004 the median salary for all airline reservation agents was $27,750 per year. The most experienced agents earned $45,100 per year.
Where to Go for More Information
Air Transport Association of America
1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Ste. 1100
Washington, DC 20004-1704
Benefits include two- to three-week paid vacations, paid holidays, sick leave, health insurance, and retirement plans. Agents and their immediate families may be eligible for reduced airline fares. Many reservations agents belong to labor unions.