BWI's biggest smile

At work

Andy Pollard works the AirTran ticket counter but he'll help load luggage in a pinch

March 21, 2007|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to the Sun

Steven "Andy" Pollard

Customer service representative, AirTran Airways, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

Salary --$32,000 plus commission

Age --49

Years on the job --Two

How he got started --Pollard worked at the Department of Defense for 20 years as a business manager responsible for opening and closing clubs at Air Force bases. He took an early retirement option after he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Once he received a clean bill of health from his doctor, Pollard decided to look for another job. He went to a job fair and was hired by

AirTran to work loading planes. After about a year, he moved to his current position.

Typical day --He works Wednesday through Sunday 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. He works the front ticket counter checking in customers and luggage. He also helps people use the automated kiosks and assigns seats. Other duties include working the gate, ushering people onto the plane and making boarding announcements.

Pollard works about five to six flights a day. He prefers working the ticket counter because he's faster there, but adds he'll pitch in where needed - he still loads luggage occasionally. "If it takes me tossing bags onto the plane to get a flight out on time, then I'm down helping toss bags."

Commission --Based on how many ticket upgrades from coach to business class he sells. An average upgrade costs between $40 and $60. A typical commission for Pollard is about $300 a month.

Secret upgrade --Pollard said on occasion he'll provide a courtesy upgrade to business class for passengers with the same birthday as his. But he won't disclose the date.

Past experience --His time with the Defense Department has proved a good background for working in airports after 9/11. "Always being aware of your surroundings and what's going on around you is first and foremost in my mind."

Working with travelers --Usually people are pretty nice, he says. "If they miss the flight because they were late, they know it's their fault so you don't ever tell them of that."

But delays and diversions due to inclement weather can anger many passengers. "I won't name the cities, but we have some surly passengers coming from other cities."

Perks --He can fly on AirTran for free as long as there are seats available. He just got back from vacation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "I try to get away at least every three months."

The good --When he boards a large, extended family traveling to Orlando, Fla., and they bring back photographs from the trip to show him. "I appreciate that. I love that. It happens a lot."

The bad --Not being able to fly when he wants, either because he's working or because the flight he wants is full. Also, when someone is flying because of a death in the family.

Philosophy on the job --"I commit to being the best. Smile, smile, smile no matter what and flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. I want to make them happy."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, Special to The Sun

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