The Passenger Assistance team at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) has 30 years of experience assisting passengers as they navigate their way throughout the airport and find their next destination. The team is part of the Guest Experience (GX) Department and assists U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as needed by translating important information to arriving international passengers.
Some of the many languages spoken by the Passenger Assistance team are Spanish, Vietnamese, and French. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 41,757,000 people speak Spanish, an estimated 1,171,000 people speak Vietnamese, and an estimated 1,172,000 people speak French.
Language is more than just translation. It provides guests with a connection and comfort. Information Services Representative Lin To, who is fluent in Vietnamese, said, “I am just glad to be able to help the passengers find their way around to their family, or their ride, or even just getting through passport control when needed.”
Luz Diaz is also an information services representative who enjoys her job and has even picked up on other languages during her more than five years of work experience at the airport.
“I once assisted a man that only spoke Italian,” said Diaz “Since Spanish and Italian are a bit similar, I was able to understand him even though I don't speak Italian. I was able to connect him with a relative.”
Diaz understands how important it is to connect with someone who speaks their native language.
“It makes me feel good when they thank me for helping, and they tell me they are grateful that I was there to help,” said Diaz. “They become happy and relieved once they’ve found someone to help them. It brings me joy to know that I've made a difference in someone’s life.”
Public Affairs Acting Supervisor, Esso-Sinam Yague, is fluent in English, French, Mina, and Kabye. Yague, Diaz, and To have all greeted and assisted thousands of passengers who have landed in PHL. The three of them have helped guests understand declaration forms, the Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosk, global entry kiosks and have guided guests with directions.
“One of the things I enjoy most about assisting passengers who speak another language other than English is the spark of joy I see in them once they hear you speak their language,” said Yague. “It’s amazing how you can travel to a whole new continent and be welcomed in your native language.”
The Guest Experience Department at PHL strives to provide as many resources to guests as possible.
“Guests arriving internationally are often tired and eager to make their way through Customs efficiently,” said Director of Guest Experience Leah Douglas. “The teams’ multi-lingual abilities provide great comfort and a warm welcome to our non-English speaking guests.”