Enjoy Helping Passengers
By Roishina C. Henderson
They can be the first friendly faces
that passengers see when they arrive in Atlanta, or they can help
save the day for the frantic passenger who can’t find his or
They don’t wear a Superman cape, but you can spot them
just the same in their teal green jackets or vests. They are
the customer service representatives (CSR) of Hartsfield-Jackson
Atlanta International Airport, and their experiences hold a
ton of heartfelt stories.
During a recent interview, four highly regarded CSRs talked
about why their jobs mean so much to them and why going beyond
the call of duty is a part of their personal commitment to their
“We care,” said Lisa Sombodo, a Hawaii
native who speaks four languages. “In June, we had a 70-year-old
Vietnamese woman who didn’t speak any English, was traveling
alone and was scared because the plane was having trouble. They had
to stop in Atlanta. I took care of her, made sure she had food, obtained
a hotel voucher, and I made sure the hotel management knew about her
Sombodo didn’t stop there. When Huong Duong,
the passenger, returned to the Airport the next day, Sombodo was there
to greet her with a smiling face.
When Duong’s family heard about how Sombodo took special care
of their relative, Sombodo was invited to their family reunion in
North Carolina. Now Sombodo keeps in touch with the family through
About 40 CSRs can be found throughout the north and south sides of
the terminal and on all concourses. Their primary functions are to
assist passengers and Airport customers with directions, provide information
about Atlanta and make their travel experience as pleasurable as possible,
said Don Braddock, an eight-year customer service veteran.
“Customer service reps have to be socially
oriented and like helping people without expecting any kind of reward,”
said Alioune Ndoye, a customer service supervisor who has been at
the Airport for six years. “You have to be aware of your body
language because the Airport brings people in from all over the world,
and you don’t want to do anything to offend anyone. You also
have to learn to not take things personally when you run into a rude
customer. Stay calm, get a supervisor and help the passenger.”
Ndoye recalls helping a woman from Africa who had never been on an
escalator. “She held on to my arm tight and closed her eyes,”
said Ndoye, who is from Senegal, West Africa. “So many times
you will see people who will be stepping on American soil for the
Airport Operations Supervisor Khern Forde appreciates the work the
CSRs provide. “They are an essential part of the Airport, and
they assist the Department of Aviation greatly in achieving our goals.
Without the help of CSRs, our task of running the Airport efficiently
and safely would be virtually impossible.”
William Smith is still fairly new to the CSR position, but he’s
committed to the work he’s doing. “It’s not a job,
but a commitment,” he says. “And I’m not talking
about a commitment to a company’s policies or rules, but a personal
Four Useful Tips From Hartsfield-Jackson
Customer Service Representatives
Allow plenty of time to get
to the Airport and get through security checkpoints. For domestic
flights, arrive two hours prior to your scheduled departure time.
Arrive three hours early for international flights.
Double check the gate number
of your flight once you arrive at the Airport, because gate numbers
can change. Read electronic monitors that provide arrival and
Once you pass the security
checkpoint, do not leave the secured area.
Remember TSA’s 3-1-1
rule: No liquids of more than three ounces in one, clear, one-quart
resealable transparent bag.