Reward program gives back to employees

By Ed Brock

Air Tran employee Steve Weisbrod was faced with a situation.

A family of four needed to get back to Bloomington, Ill., after missing their flight. The father most urgently needed to get home.

"He was a fireman and needed to get to work," Weisbrod said.

So Weisbrod, a customer service agent, served the customers. He got the father on a plane and the mother and two daughters on another plane a few hours behind him.

The family remembered the time Weisbrod took to help them out, so when they got home they wrote a letter to Weisbrod's boss. As a result he was one of the monthly winners honored by the Atlanta Department of Aviation's customer service office at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for what their efforts.

Now Weisbrod's in line, along with the other monthly winners for a 2006 Ford to be given away at the 10th annual Customer Service Recognition Program in October.

"I'm pretty excited," Weisbrod said. "I was really quite humbled by the first award. What I did for those customers was nothing out of the ordinary. It's my job."

But every year the airport holds the program, this year scheduled for Oct. 13 at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, to honor those who have gone above the call of duty as well as Weisbrod. There's one real qualification for the monthly honor, said Naomi Holder, customer service supervisor. The person has to do something good for a customer at the airport, something that makes the customer take the time to write a letter.

The monthly winners get balloons, a certificate and prizes including $50 gift certificates to various stores and restaurants.

"We even have airline tickets we give away," Holder said.

At the end of August a focus group meets to pick the top winners in five categories to be honored at the banquet. The awards they receive are, in reverse order, the Community Citizenship Award, the Heroic Service Award, the Unsung Hero/Heroine Award, the Ambassador Award and the Superstar Award.

"The only people who would go into a category like (Superstar) is somebody who saved a life or did something so big," Holder said.

Another AirTran employee and monthly award winner, ticket agent Holly Davis, did her best to save a life.

"One of our skycaps was having a heart attack right in front of my eyes," Davis said.

Davis called for an ambulance while two other AirTran employees tried to care for the skycap. Unfortunately he didn't make it.

Davis also didn't need a reward for doing her job.

"Being in the busiest airport in the world and being able to help someone out, it really touches my heart," Davis said.

This year the Superstar Award winner will get the new car, but the big question is, what car? Allen Vigil Ford in Morrow has been displaying a different car in the Hartsfield-Jackson atrium for the past month, starting with an F-150 pickup and, more recently, a new Mustang.

"They're keeping it a surprise. (During the program) I'm going to be Vanna White and snatch the cover off," Holder said. "It's going to be something so great, better than anything we've ever done."