Billie Bailey starts every call the same way: “American Airlines Center, how can I help you?”

She’s worked at the sports venue since it opened in 2001, and for just the past 23 years, the center’s dispatchers have dealt with the same issue.

“There’s not a day that goes by that we do not get a call thinking that we are American Airlines,” Bailey said.

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Bailey and dispatcher Marsha Bradshaw answer calls at the center during events hosted at the ACC, which hosts games for the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars.

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They said more than half the calls are from people asking about their flight, especially when the weather causes delays and cancellations. Last week, half the flights leaving DFW International Airport were delayed due to storms in North Texas, and dispatchers had an uptick in airline customer calls.

Bradshaw is also a veteran at the center, and has worked in the venue’s guest services department since 2002. She answers caller questions about how to find the center or where to park. But of the 50-75 calls she’ll answer during events, more than 20 will be meant for American Airlines.

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“Although you answer the phone and you say, ‘Thank you for calling American Airlines Center,’ they don’t hear that last word,” Bradshaw said. “They just hear American Airlines.”

Dispatchers say the airline’s customers will ask voice assistants like Siri and Alexa to “call American Airlines,” but will then be falsely directed to the center. But even before voice assistants, customers have gotten the number confused through misleading search engines since 2001.

“We even tried contacting Google to tell them that that’s not the right number. But it never changed,” Bradshaw said.

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Bradshaw said they’ve reached out to get the issue fixed multiple times.

“I think it’s at the point now that it doesn’t bother me, because I know this will happen,” Bradshaw said. “I just try to stay calm and try to help them as much as I can.”

Bailey and Bradshaw say they try to interject as soon as possible when speaking with someone who is trying to reach the airline. But it’s not always easy dealing with a disgruntled airline customer.

“They just kind of rattle off everything that they need,” Bailey said. “Once they take a breath, then you can … butt in and say, ‘this is not American Airlines.’”

Bailey and Bradshaw keep the airline’s 1-800 number memorized, both the English line and the Spanish line, in order to redirect misplaced callers.

“Sometimes they’ll say, ‘Well, I called that number and no one is answering,’” Bradshaw said. “Then you have to apologize and let them know that’s the only number that we have.”

Francine Harris works in the center’s guest services department and helps take phone calls on non-event days. She’s worked there for about 13 years and said they’ll get at least 200-300 calls from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. But about 70% of those are actually meant for American Airlines.

“Some people say, ‘Oh, I should have known I didn’t reach the airlines because I reached a real person,’” Harris said.

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When people learn they’ve reached the wrong number, Bailey said she gets a few typical reactions. Some will be angry, some will just hang up and others will laugh. Sometimes, a Dallas sports fan will call and be especially amused, Harris said.

Sometimes, callers ask to be transferred to the airline, which the center can’t do. Although the Texas-based company bought the naming rights to the arena in 1999 for $195 million, the venue operates separately from the airline.

“You get angry phone calls, not just because of American Airlines,” Bailey said. “So you just have to be patient, listen to them get it out and just tell them that you’re very sorry.”

Still, Bailey said she loves her job. At age 77, she still mans the phones during events. With the Mavericks in the finals this week and after an exciting season for the Stars, Bailey, who is from Dallas and a fan of both teams, said the center has kept busy this spring.

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But in busy seasons like this one, Bailey said the caller confusion is more of an issue.

“That interferes with the work that you’re supposed to be doing,” Bailey said.

Their line is meant to field calls about issues in the center during events. Bailey has tried rephrasing her statement at the beginning of each phone call to minimize confusion.

“I tried saying, home of the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars, basketball and hockey venue, this is the American Airlines Center,” Bailey said. “Sounds like a lot, and it is.”

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Still, callers launch into questions about their flight, not paying attention to her clarification.

“If there’s a solution to it, I wish you could find it,” Bailey said.

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/718762625/LRNtzElCLYEBgNdL?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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