A look inside of Cary’s American Airlines call center

Local Original

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Since 1988, among the first tenants of a Cary industrial park, in a nondescript building, is one of American Airlines’ most important facilities.

“You know we have a pretty big presence out at the airport so I think most people would think you know we have 45 flights a day, we go to 12 different destinations at the airport but, sitting here nestled in the woods in Cary is really a wonderful place to be,” said managing director Kip Hamilton.

It’s a place that has survived the ups and downs of the economy and the airline industry.

It outlasted the Raleigh-Durham American Airlines hub and forged through a merger with US Airways. It’s also where a call was received on 9/11 from flight attendant Betty Ong aboard AA flight 11 before it flew into the World Trade Center.  Supervisor Nydia Gonzalez later testified before congress. 

Over the last three decades, the call center has seen a huge advance in technology where people these days mostly book online.  “Versus in the old days when you’d put it on a cue and it would take two or three days and we’d mail out the ticket. Customers can now have the receipt for the itinerary in about an hour. So it’s just amazing,” said Joyce Richardson who has worked there for more than 30 years.

Eleven hundred employees of the Southeastern Reservations Office or SERO took 13 million calls last year. That’s an average of 35 thousand a day.  

“The customer is either calling us to change their reservation or they’re asking about a policy or procedure. It might be “do I need a visa to travel to an international destination?”, I want to change my seats, tell me about the upgrade process, I want to carry my pet,” said Hamilton. 

Despite the ease of the internet people sometimes still want that human contact. “It makes the process so much easier for our customers. We can answer their questions we can elevate the experience that they have on the flights and put their mind at ease. American takes care of their employees because they know how well we take care of our customers,” said Richardson.  

Enough so that the average seniority is around thirty years.

They’re not only an important part of the airline but of Central North Carolina as well.  

“We hope to be in the community a very long time doing what we do today,” added Hamilton.


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