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A Day in the Life of Special Assistance Coordinator, Rina Spence

January 28, 2022

Rina Spence is one of the Customer Care Managers in the Special Assistance Coordinators (SAC) department at the American Airlines headquarters near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. She has at least two dozen coordinators on her team and has been a Special Assistance Coordinator Manager for three years.

I am responsible for…

Helping people in need. Our customers always have new and unique needs, and I learn something new every day about how we can adapt to help them. Our focus is the customer and ensuring they get the best possible service based on their itinerary and needs. While we can’t help with every request, we work hard to accommodate as many requests as possible and offer alternative options if needed.

How we work ...

Our goal is to take care of the customer and make sure they can complete their journey with minimal to no disruption due to their disabilities or special assistance needs. Many of our special assistance coordinators work varying shifts, and we work through challenges together to take care of our travelers. Several team members have been in the SAC department for over 20 years and have a wealth of knowledge about how to support  different kinds of requests, whether it be for one person or a group of Paralympians needing assistance with their equipment and transfers. Currently, we have more than 65 American Airlines special assistance coordinators based in the US, and more team members at our international offices to provide global support to our customers.

How do our special assistance coordinators work with CWT?

During the booking process, the CWT agent make notes on a customer’s special request form, such as for wheelchair, oxygen, and lift assist. If there are questions or additional requests, the agent coordinates with the Special Assistance Center directly to ensure the customer’s travel record documents the customer’s needs so the airport knows what to anticipate to support the customer during their travels.

What a special assistance coordinator does day-to-day…

We wear a lot of different hats to support our customers from the time they book their flight to arrival at their destination. Some of our most common requests are for help with the logistics of traveling with wheelchairs, service animals, and medical equipment. We also ensure these customers and those with vision, hearing, or other disabilities have the support they need to navigate the airport and flight experience as smoothly as possible. In addition to supporting a customer during their travel with American, we also collaborate with our joint business partners to make sure the customer has the support they need throughout their journey, even if part of their trip is with another airline.

A typical day for a special assistant coordinator begins with signing in for the shift…

We start the day by taking calls to coordinate wheelchairs and other needs for customers, including helping agents and customers accurately submit requests to make sure the customer has what they need on the day of travel. We also spend time speaking with customers who have questions about our policies to help them understand what they need to comply.

A special assistant coordinator moves from inbound calls to customer requests …

They receive many different types of requests and work with the appropriate departments to make sure a customer receives the information they need. Customers submit questions about topics ranging from traveling when prone to seizures, how to travel internationally with a service dog, specifics on face covering requirements and types of portable oxygen containers that American Airlines accepts.

After lunch, special assistant coordinators help with more calls and emails… …

They jump back in to help with inbound phone calls. Customers may call for help checking on a passenger who’s traveling by themselves and needs assistance, or help locating a lost item that may have been left on a plane.

They may meet with a peer to discuss the types of customer questions we’re receiving about COVID-19 testing requirements. They discuss the ways we’re communicating with customers through our pre-departure emails to customers and our Prepared for the Air resource online to make sure they understand what they need to do to travel.

Near the end of the day, our special assistance coordinator wraps up with a few final calls …

They assist a customer who has questions about transporting their elderly parent who has Alzheimer’s and how ‘American’ can help them during travel. They may also answer more questions about seats and medical needs while traveling.

As a special assistance manager….

I check in with my team throughout the day to ensure our workflow runs smoothly so we can respond to our customers in a timely manner. I help with unique situations and policy questions. At the end of the day, we want to make sure our team members were able to assist as many customers as possible.

I reflect on the customers we were able to support at the end of each day. I’m thankful for our team, and I’m proud of the great work we do to we help our customers when they fly on American Airlines.



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