Those of us frequent flyers on United Airlines with Premier Executive status or above usually get a domestic call center when phoning reservations. United’s three centers on U.S. soil are in Dearborn, MI, Chicago, IL, and Honolulu, HI, and I can almost tell immediately when I get a Honolulu agent. They answer the phone with a proper greeting (i.e., saying anything other than just “Hello” or “Yes?”), are friendly and efficient, and genuinely leave you with a good impression of United. Not to say the other call centers don’t have their stellar agents, too, but superior customer service is consistent at HNLRR (Honolulu Reservations).
Things might not be as rosy as they sound on the phone, though. Two former reservations agents are suing United alleging chemical toxins made them repeatedly sick causing long term respiratory and cardiovascular issues. The call center is located at Honolulu International Airport in a basement next to the runway, and from 2005 to 2008, Hawaii’s Occupational Safety and Health Division was called out at least six times to test the air. The results never showed anything out-of-limits, but they also claim the government might need to reconsider acceptable exposure levels. In a likely related incident, the call center was evacuated in November last year due to a sulfurous smell, and a female employee had been complaining of chest pains.
So, this of course begs the question… is there any truth to it or are these disgruntled former employees looking for payback? The air quality test results so far are the only evidence presented, and unless the case is just outright dismissed, it would likely be settled out of court without disclosing further details. It might make for interesting small talk, though, the next time I talk to a Honolulu agent. What do you think? Sour air or sour former employees?