The first member of staff a passenger will come into contact with at the airport is often a check-in officer. These roles are therefore very important to airlines looking to promote a positive image of their business.
Check-in officers, or ‘airline customer service agents’, need to have excellent communication skills, patience, and most importantly, an instinctive ability to cope with difficult situations in a calm and professional manner.
The role typically deals directly with customers just as they are embarking on their journey. The main responsibilities include checking passengers in, weighing and checking in baggage, issuing boarding passes and luggage labels, allocating seat numbers, asking security questions, and answering passenger queries prior to their flight.
Further duties might involve walking passengers to and from aircraft, arranging facilities for people with disabilities and generally ensuring all passengers are boarding in time for their flights.
If you enjoy working directly with customers, have good communication skills and a professional approach, a role as a passenger check-in officer could be a good option for you.
What does a passenger check-in officer do?
The day-to-day duties of a passenger check-in officer might include:
- Greeting passengers on arrival at the airport
- Answering any queries passengers might have about their journey
- Checking bookings and issuing boarding passes
- Keeping passengers updated on any changes to flight information
- Directing passengers to the correct gate for their flight
- Weighing and checking in luggage
- Responding in a calm and professional manner to customer complaints
- General administration duties
- Following security procedures
What qualifications do you need to become a passenger check-in officer?
You will need to have achieved some GCSEs such as English at grades A*-C (9-4) to apply. Experience of working in a customer service environment will help make your application more attractive. The ability to speak another language may also be useful as you could be dealing with customers from around the world.
If successful with your application, you will usually have to undergo a training programme that may last around four to eight weeks. This is likely to include learning how to use computerised and manual reservation systems, telephone skills, gaining proper knowledge of emergency and evacuation procedures, and extensive security training.
As well as on-the-job training, it’s also possible to qualify with National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) in Handling Air Passengers,at levels 2 and 3, awarded by City & Guides and EMTA Awards Ltd.
What skills do you need to become a passenger check-in officer?
- You will need to have excellent customer service skills as the majority of the role will be in direct contact with customers.
- In order to relay information to customers you will need strong communications skills, especially spoken.
- You may be faced with complaints and will need the ability to stay calm under pressure and deal with these in a professional manner.
- You will need good problem solving skills in order to deal with customer queries or complaints.
- Good IT skills will help you with administration duties and checking passengers in.
How much does a passenger check-in officer earn?*
Salaries can vary depending on which airline employs you. Some airlines may offer a higher salary if you can speak multiple languages and may offer benefits such as subsidised travel.
Starting salary: £13,000 to £16,000
Experienced: £16,000 to £22,000
Senior salary: £40,000
Figures taken from the National Careers Service.
What are your career prospects as a passenger check-in officer?
Most of the job opportunities for airline customer service agents are through airports, airlines and handling agents. Some jobs are seasonal initially, with the possibility of becoming permanent at the end of the season. In the UK, most jobs of this kind exist at London’s two major airports – Heathrow and Gatwick – with other vacancies in regional airports, including Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands, Birmingham and Glasgow.
Airlines that are often looking for staff include easyJet, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Flybe.
Naturally for those who excel in the role, there will be the chance of promotion with time, and perhaps further management training, or the option to specialise in another area of airline work such as Cabin Crew.
Search for the latest passenger check-in officer roles on Aviation Job Search.
*Salaries are meant as a guide and can vary depending on a number of factors.