Travelers Aid Volunteer Program Manager Christine Datesman recently received the “Caring Support” award in PHL’s Airport Employee Recognition Program. This award recognizes employees who provide exceptional care and services to passengers.
Datesman oversees two program coordinators and is PHL's primary liaison between the airport and the Travelers Aid Volunteer Program. She recruits and trains her team of Navigators who lend a hand throughout the airport, at the information desks or walking through the terminals wearing vests that identify them as helpers. They direct passengers to their gates and assist guests with all other airport-related directions. Datesman usually works 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., five days, including some weekends.
Datesman starts her day by calling the information desks and checking on the volunteers. She likes to visit each desk during every shift to thank the volunteers for dedicating their time to the program.
“I love meeting people,” said Datesman. “We have such a wonderful group of people that work here at PHL- everyone from the police officers to the custodial teams, the airline employees, and the City staff bring this place to life. Every day is a new adventure here!”
Earlier this year, passenger Jeanne Blumer conveyed her appreciation for Datesman stating, “I just wanted to express again my gratitude for your ‘over-the-top’ response and service locating my lost three-legged executive seat cane. I can hardly believe all your effort and follow-through. You brought it all the way to gate B4 from Terminal A-East. You are amazing, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Datesman believes listening is one of the most important people skills to have. She finds it necessary to actively listen as she believes it significantly impacts her effectiveness and the quality of the relationships she’s able to establish. “It’s important to have good communication skills while working in customer service. It requires a high level of self-awareness,” said Datesman. “Understanding my communication style goes a long way toward helping to create good and lasting impressions with others.”
Datesman enjoys interacting with passionate, dedicated, and inspirational airport employees. In addition, she enjoys working with her colleagues who constantly keep the volunteers updated and knowledgeable about the airport. “There are many qualities I admire in my coworkers,” said Datesman. “But one that stands out is their support for each other on the job. They are selfless in their work and with each other. That is admirable and inspires me every day!” Datesman also enjoys spending time with PHL staff by participating in PHL’s 5K Run on the Runway and representing the airport at the Tinicum Farmer’s Market.
Originally from Drogheda, Ireland, Datesman and her husband knew they would end up in Philadelphia since his family is from here. She is excited to live in a city with a rich history.
“In the short time I have been here, I have already found many great parks and restaurants,” said Datesman. “Philadelphia is a fantastic sports city. Everyone is so proud to support their teams. I have never lived in a city where everyone wears their sports jerseys and hats all the time - I love it.”
One of her most memorable working moments is when she assisted a passenger in locating his laptop, after he mistakenly left it at JFK airport. Datesman called Travelers Aid at JFK, and they were able to find it and arranged to get it back to the passenger.
“I hope my impact brightens someone's day and helps ease the burden of travel,” said Datesman. “We meet some great people. We hear all their stories and see photos of their kids and grandkids. As they reach their destination, we hear about their good and bad adventures.” She also recalled when a passenger handed her a bag of candy along with a written poem of appreciation.
“Travelers Aid International is a great, supportive employer,” said Datesman. “They appreciate our team and remind us daily that we are an asset to the organization. We make customer service fun. Travelers not only want great service, but they’ve also come to expect it, and we are here to give it to everyone that stops by the information desks!”
The PHL Employee Recognition Program was established by the airport’s Guest Experience (GX) Department. Honorees are nominated by their peers and selected by the GX Council Steering Committee’s Employee Conduct and Recognition Committee. For more information about the program and to nominate an employee, click here.