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The June 30 Empire article, "Alaska Airlines looks to Improve Web Services," made me shudder. Recently, after being put on hold for three days by this airline's partner desk, with an average wait of 61 minutes per attempt, it's scary to think that our primary air carrier is now deliberately moving away from a people-based service system to one dependent on electronics.
Reducing the ability of the traveling public to talk with real people to resolve real problems can only increase our level of frustration. This growing anxiety is shared by Alaska ticket agents who complain, "we can't get through either," when attempting to resolve problems for their customers. Hiring more informed and caring ticket agents who can think, act and resolve problems quickly is the key to enhancing the bottom line, especially during peak travel periods.
It is ironic that as the public's fear of terror in the skies abates, it is being replaced by more predictable confusion and frustration on the ground. With this electronic shift, Alaska Airlines seems to have forgotten its most important innovation: talented customer service agents that really care about the traveling public.