Airport Volunteers Lend Frazzled Travelers a Helping Hand


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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s gearing up to be a busy summer travel season: Airlines for America predicts there will be more than 206 million people flying this summer, and that’s only on U.S carriers.  That breaks down to about 2.24 million passengers per day.

With all those people passing through airports, many of them infrequent fliers, there’s sure to be plenty of angst — from lost bags, lost children and parking questions, to rental car inquires, flight delays and cancellations.  So who can you turn to for help?

Your friendly airport greeters, of course. You’ll recognize them by the white hats at Denver International, or the red vests at Calgary International in Canada.  And, very soon, the pins on their clothing at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

JFK airport rolls out a new program on May 22, just in time for the busy summer travel season. Called Edge4Vets N.I.C.E. Corps, the program plans to use the skills of military veterans to help alleviate passenger frustrations at the airport.  It takes airport employees who are also veterans and gives them N.I.C.E. (Neutralize Irritations Customers Experience) training.

The pilot program was designed by Tom Murphy, director of the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University.  He said the program would initially be in Terminal 4, and has 30 trained problem solvers ready to help.

“What travelers want most,” he said, “is for someone to care when things go wrong.  They want someone who will step up and help.”

Veterans employed at a variety of airport companies — even airlines like JetBlue, Delta and American Airlines, and agencies like the Transportation Security Administration — have signed up for the training.  The idea, Murphy said, is for veterans already involved in the pilot program to spot other airline employees going the extra mile and then report it.  Those employees will then be recognized and rewarded for their helpfulness.

Murphy said that in time he hopes the program will take on a life of its own, resulting in a more positive airport experience for employees and travelers alike.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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