American’s Executive Platinum members (top tier elites) like to refer to Admirals Club agents and phone agents as “AAngels.” As someone that previously only flew United, I thought there were some things they did a great job with on the elite recognition front. For example, I find that gate agents and flight attendants treat 1Ks especially well. At United gate agents often recognized my status and said something along the lines of “oh you’re a 1K, of course we can do that for you.” Along the same lines, once aboard, meal orders are taken by status, and there’s generally good recognition of elite status (I’ve been thanked a countless number of times on United over the years for being a 1K).
Interestingly, American seems to be exactly the opposite — I haven’t found status recognition to be especially good among flight attendants or gate agents, but it has been exceptional among Admirals Club agents and especially phone agents.
At American it’s clear that the Executive Platinum phone agents are actually specially trained and given some leeway in what they can do. The agents are friendly and professional, and they’re less concerned about the rules and more concerned about understanding customers’ needs. For example, I recently needed to make a change on a ticket due to a rather complicated problem I was having. I figured they’d say no or that it would take authorization from a supervisor. Instead, the agent identified my problem and was able to waive the change fee on a revenue ticket without having to get authorization to do so in less than a minute, even apologizing for the problem I was having (even though it was totally outside of her control).
As she said, “here at the Executive Platinum desk we can waive just about any fee if it’s for good reason.” So it’s great to be able to talk to agents that are actually empowered to help customers. So far I’ve not once been put on hold for an Executive Platinum agent to go to talk to a supervisor, while I can’t say the same about any other airline’s top tier phone agents.
One observation about the phone agents, though — their automated greetings drive me nuts. No, I’m not talking about the hold music or script, but when the agent answers the phone, they have a pre-recorded greeting that they put together — something like “This is Ms. Jones at the Executive Desk, how can I help you?” It drives me crazy because sometimes they’ll add something to their pre-recorded greeting “live,” like my name, though there’s a huge delay and it gets awkward because I’m not sure if they’ll say something else or not. Or sometimes they’ll sound totally different than their pre-recorded greeting, in which case I usually can’t help but laugh. If you haven’t noticed it, give American a call and listen for it when an agent answers the phone. Enough about that, though.
Similar to the phone agents, the Admirals Club agents couldn’t be nicer, though that’s not a function of status. It’s the little touches that count, and that’s where they shine. I’m addressed by name every time I enter the Admirals Club, and the customer service agents don’t view you as an inconvenience when there are irregular operations.
That being said, I generally find Red Carpet Clubs to be nicer than Admirals Clubs, though Red Carpet Clubs have agents that range from awesome to awful. In my experience there are 10% of agents that truly couldn’t care less, 80% that are just fine, and 10% that are phenomenal.
Anyway, just a few observations. United rocks at the gate and onboard, and American rocks over the phone and in the club (and not “in da club” in the Flo Rida sense either).