by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
8/9/2013 – SOUTHWEST ASIA — While ramp services loads cargo on cargo jets, passenger services loads … You caught that? Yes, they load passengers and their baggage!
The 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron’s passenger services section averages more than 85,000 passengers with 3,200 tons of accompanying baggage and nearly 1,000 distinguished visitors annually.
“We’re all one team,” said Master Sgt. Trevor Olson, the 8th EAMS passenger services superintendent here on a one year remote tour. “Passengers come through us and we work with all the other agencies within the aerial port of debarkation office to get personnel on their way to wherever they need to go.”
As air transportation specialists within the passenger services section, Airmen review travel documentation for validity and accuracy and check in passengers and baggage.
“It’s really interesting,” said Airman 1st Class Ryan Cameron, an 8th EAMS passenger services specialist deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. “We come across a lot of interesting people and unique situations, and we have to figure out the best way to solve the issue and help the customer in a complete and efficient manner.”
Much like their counterparts across 8th EAMS, passenger services Airmen establish procedures for processing passengers and loading them and cargo aboard aircraft, and preparing records and reports. They also establish procedures for passenger and aircraft clearance through international border clearance agencies, as well as check in passengers, process, schedule, transport and escort passengers to and from aircraft.
“What we do is vital as far as getting passengers in and out of the country,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Deckert, the 8th EAMS passenger services supervisor deployed from Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C. “We are one of the largest hubs for personnel transiting in and out of U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. When we do our job right, people get to where they need to go, whether that is downrange or home to family and friends.”
Passenger services is in full compliance with the federal Transportation Security Administration providing effective and efficient security for passengers and freight transportation across the globe.
“TSA prohibits a lot of items,” Olson said. “So we help folks understand what they can and can’t carry-on the jet with them. We may be at a military installation now, but eventually you’re going to transfer to a civilian aircraft and we want everyone to be as prepared as they can be for the trip.”
As the face of 8th EAMS, passenger services maintains a high-level of professionalism in-line with Air Force core values, Olson said.
“We spend a lot of time focusing on our customer service skills, dress and appearance, and our facilities,” said Olson. “Our facility is as shiny as can be because we want transiting personnel to feel comfortable here.”
With floors shiny enough to see your reflection, Olson explained how his Airmen strip and wax it regularly so the ‘face of the base’ maintains appearances. On top of shiny floors, the passenger terminal also has free wireless internet, a United Service Organizations, Inc., center with luxury recliners and couches and gaming systems, a distinguished visitor’s lounge and brand new seating for hundreds waiting to fly to their next destination.
“Just last week we moved nearly 700 passengers in five hours on two different aircraft,” Olson said. “On top of making sure everyone has a ticket, we’re screening bags and luggage, and loading these items onto the aircraft so everyone has what they need at their next stop.”
Rated as “Best Terminal in the AOR” in November 2012 by a Multi-Major Command Staff Assistance Visit and a 98 percent customer approval rating through the Air Force’s online Interactive Customer Evaluation system, the Air Mobility Command’s passenger terminal truly lives up the “Mighty OCHO’s” creed of “You need, we move it!”
[Editor’s note: This article is part six of an eight part series highlighting the unique missions accomplished by the Airmen of 8th EAMS.]