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Flashback Fridays: A Quarter Century of CSCs

Have you ever rushed through an airport to make a connecting flight, fearing that it may have already left without you, only to be pleasantly surprised that the aircraft was still waiting for you?  How about hearing you have already been reaccommodated following a flight cancellation? FF1Twenty-five years ago this month, a dedicated Team of three Ground Operations Employees took on a project to proactively assist Customers encountering these kinds of issues to make their travel experience much easier.  This lead to the creation of our Customer Service Coordinator (CSC) role, a Team that now is made up of 14 Employees within our Operations Coordination Center (OCC) who watch over the status of flights systemwide, with the goal of minimizing issues Customers may encounter during irregular operations. By the late 80s, our Company had grown to a fleet of 85 aircraft flying to 28 destinations.  Although this is significantly smaller than the size of our system today, it still created many communication challenges between Dispatch and the Customer Service Employees at airports when operational issues arose.  If a flight became delayed or cancelled, Employees at the Station were left with difficult decisions to make about how to best assist Customers without much input in the process.  This often generated complaints from travelers encountering such challenges.  While it was known that it would be impossible to prevent these problems 100 percent of the time, a solution was sought to minimize the number of Customers inconvenienced by day-of changes to the schedule.
Original CSCs Harry Ehmann, Buzz Brassard, and Randy Hopkins
Original CSCs Harry Ehmann, Buzz Brassard, and Randy HopkinsFF1FF2
In December 1988, a 60-day test period began within our Dispatch group to study what changes could be made.  Three Operations Supervisors, Harry Ehmann, Darryl “Buzz” Brassard, and Randy Hopkins, took on the task.   The Team set up a small workspace within the Dispatch office (located at the now-demolished North Concourse at Love Field) composed of little more than a phone on a collapsible card table and a few basic supplies.  Using their Customer Service and operational knowledge gained in the field, they were able to identify flights deviating from their regular schedule and make recommendations as to what changes could be made in order to minimize the number of Customers impacted.  Following the benefits of the CSC role being realized, the decision was made to retain the Team as a permanent component of Dispatch.
CSCs celebrate their Team’s Tenth Anniversary in 1998
When the move to our current Headquarters building took place in 1990, the CSC Team continued to grow along with the size of our operations.  Six Coordinators and one Supervisor composed the group by 1998.  Today, it has expanded to 13 Coordinators and one Manager, with Buzz, Harry, and Randy still on board.  For 21 hours a day, the CSCs continue to serve as liaisons between Dispatch and our Stations.  They assist the Superintendent of Dispatch with the decision-making process regarding which flights to hold, divert, or cancel in order to affect the fewest number of Customers.  If a flight cancels, CSCs will protect the Customers on the next flight by placing a hold on seats within the reservation system.  They also assist with questions pertaining to the transport of hazardous materials, Unaccompanied Minors, and other Customers who may have special needs.  Their valiant efforts were recognized in 1996 when they (along with our Flight Information Agents also in Dispatch) were recognized with the fourth annual Heroes of the Heart award, presented to deserving Employee groups working behind-the-scenes, often unnoticed by the public eye. FF4Next year, our CSCs, along with the entire OCC (yes, we LUV our acronyms) will be moving to their new home in our Training and Operations Support (TOPS) Building which officially opened last week.  The expanded facility (just across the street from our current Headquarters building) will further enable our CSCs to support our growing operation, soon to include our first flights outside of the United States.  The “Heart of the Airline” (as Herb once said back in 1993) would not be complete without our hard working CSCs.  Thank you for a quarter century of service.