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Dedication to travelers honored at Hartsfield-Jackson

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Anna Strickland, a customer service representative for Delta Air Lines, didn't think twice last year about helping a passenger who became ill at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The female passenger needed to get a prescription from her doctor for a refill of her medication, but the doctor was in the traveler's hometown of San Francisco. The passenger couldn't travel alone, so Strickland offered to go home, pack some clothes and travel to San Francisco with the woman.

Strickland was honored by airport officials on Oct. 4, with the Hartsfield-Jackson Superstar Award, during the airport's annual, customer-service-recognition program. As a reward for her selfless devotion to the stranded passenger, Strickland was given an orange, 2007 Ford Edge.

"It feels great to win this award," said Strickland, who was in shock after receiving the award. "The key to providing good customer service is to just help a customer in the best way you can."

Strickland was one of 86 airport employees recognized for helping passengers and helping out in the community.

Every fall, the airport's Customer Service Department recognizes its employees who have shown outstanding customer service to travelers.

"Being a shining star in customer service is more than a metaphor," said Ben DeCosta, the airport's general manager. "It means giving the best from inside each of us. Stars, when put together, are not just a dazzling display, but a powerful force. I feel a personal connection with each of you, because you are a vital part of our goal to be a friendly airport."

Three years ago, Hartsfield-Jackson officials set a goal of having 70 percent of passengers who arrive at, or depart from, the airport, rate customer service as "outstanding" by next summer. In June of this year, the data revealed that 69.7 percent of passengers did just that. DeCosta said the goal has been adjusted upwards to 75 percent by next June.

"This is so we won't be complacent and rest on our laurels," the airport chief said.

AirTran Airways was recognized with the Community Citizenship Award for flying family members of the Bluffton University baseball team to Atlanta, for free, in February, following a bus crash involving the team on Interstate 75.

"AirTran Airways soared above and beyond, following the charter bus tragedy that involved members of a baseball team traveling from Ohio," DeCosta said.

Other award winners included Michael Boggioni, from Hojeij Branded Foods (Ambassador Award); Deborah Seaver, from Delta Air Lines (Heroic Service Award); Francis Bangura, from Prime Flight (Unsung Hero Award), and Darrell Cantrell, of the Atlanta Police Department (City of Atlanta Award).

The remaining 80 award winners received Customer Service Appreciation Awards.

"Through their deeds, these truly exceptional honorees have shown the highest level of customer service," DeCosta said.