There are a lot of people who keep Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) running smoothly during the Christmas rush – but one group of individuals in particular acts as the glue that holds operations together each year at Christmas when the airport might otherwise be overwhelmed with passengers.
They’re known as PTIA’s “Ambassadors” – a group of about 40 volunteers who play a vital role at the airport during the busy holiday season as well as the rest of the year.
The highly helpful airport workers are stationed at one of four information booths in strategic locations in the terminal building.
Also, confused passengers can flag down one of the many Ambassadors who roam the airport terminal ready to offer assistance.
PTIA’s ambassador program began at the airport in 1988 and has operated continuously for more than 30 years.
Ambassadors commit to working at least three hours weekly and some work more than that. Many have served for several years – some for more than two decades.
PTI Airport does a lot throughout the year to honor the volunteer ambassadors, and this week PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker explained what a vital role they play.
“We are proud of and grateful for our team of ambassadors,” Baker stated in a press release. “These volunteers are an essential part of our customer service program all year round,”
He said that passengers really rely on the Ambassadors during the holiday season when things can get a bit hectic.”
Travelers will often ask for directions to a boarding gate, or a rental car desk or ask for recommendations for a place to eat. Sometimes passengers might need help with flight information or parking.
Marcia Sears Regan, who’s been an airport ambassador for 13 years explained the many ways the ambassadors heap air travelers flying in and out of PTIA.
“Most passengers who are unfamiliar with the airport just need location information,” she said, “In order of frequency, they ask directions to baggage claim, closest bathroom, TSA, rental cars, ground transportation and Uber and Lyft.”
According to PTIA officials, occasionally ambassadors will get an unusual request’. For instance, an airport passenger once asked Roger Cheney – who’s been an airport ambassador for 22 years – if Cheney could drive the passenger to Charlotte. The passenger had missed his flight.
All of the ambassadors are volunteers – and many of them are retired. They all go through a training program that teaches them not only about the airport layout and operations, but also how to approach travelers who may be experiencing a flight delay or some other unexpected challenges.
On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority – the board that runs the airport – put out a press release honoring its present group of ambassadors and also put the word out that anyone intrigued by the idea of acting as an ambassador at PTIA should check it out.
“The Airport Authority is always looking for good ambassador candidates,” this week’s release states. “You don’t have to be retired, it is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in learning about Customer Service/Public Communication and who wants to help others.”
“I tell passengers that there is never a dumb question, that we are there to help. That is our job.” Regan said. “Since everything is so high tech, lots of times we are the only people who converse with a passenger. A human touch, a concerned, yet positive attitude goes a long way to help ease a nervous passenger.”
Baker said this week that, “The people who volunteer their time at the airport are special people; the Airport Authority really appreciates all that they do.”