Holiday Travel Leads To Added Burden For Airport Employees

Yareli Paz, Staff Writer

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During the holidays everyone loves being with family, but distance can be an issue and that means traveling. Travelers always complain about the crowds and the workers at the airport, but the workers also have to deal with all the stress that comes with the increase in travel.

Having a flight delayed can put anyone in a bad mood fast and many may not think about what they are say or stop to consider the person to whom they are complaining.

Evelyn Jennings has been working customer service for the past 25 years at O’Hare. Some of her duties include bookings, ticketing, checking in passengers and their luggage, boarding passengers, and driving the jetways up to the planes.

She remarks that during her time at O’Hare she has “learned to listen before making any assumptions: sometimes people want someone to understand them and help them solve their travel problems.”

Jennings adds that even during those instances where customers complaints make little sense, “I tell myself to be patient.”

Senior Anais Villafana has been working at the airport for 2 months as a passenger service assistant and her duties include assisting with wheelchairs, escorting unaccompanied minors, and helping direct lines at security checkpoints.

Sometimes we have to wonder what is going through the workers’ heads when people complain or make a scene.

“When people complain to me at the airport, I used to feel pressure because my job is to take them where they are supposed to go, and if they aren’t happy the blame can be left at me,” Villafana said. “But then I started to realize that most of the things that people do complain about aren’t things that I could fix, so now I try my best to console them, and if I can’t help them, than I just avoid arguing back or saying anything to make the situation worse.”

Although  many people travel during Thanksgiving, the airport gets extremely busy during the Christmas season.

“Well during the holidays some people can tend to be nicer, but if I do get those people who are more work to handle then I just want to be prepared to stay calm and be patient with people to the best [of my] ability because it’s my job,” Villafana said.

In the past few years with the economy being so low the number of travelers has seen a decrease but recently started picking up, and the airport expects and prepares for many travelers this year.

“Travel has changed in the past few years: now travelers are spread out, [and] that means some flights will be completely full and some not,” Jennings said. “Also, more people are traveling on Christmas day now.”

Snow is a nightmare to people that work at the airport because it means flight delays and many angry travelers.

But Jennings stressed that “the airlines work with each other in case of delays or cancellations to accommodate passengers.”

And Villafana adds that the airport “automatically will call overtime and with delayed flights, it’ll be tiring having to stay long hours because you can’t leave until you’ve completed your job.”

Despite the added stress this holiday season, airport employees will continue performing their duties.

“It’ll be stressful, but it’s my job so I’m used to it and I understand it,” Villafana said.

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