Meeting expands on airline Alliance
Holly Van Straten arrived in Burleson from New York with a stuffed owl in hand.
It has become the symbol of the oneworld Alliance help line connecting American Airlines clients with partner airline service to 1,000 destinations in 150 countries.
The Owl is derived from the acronym for oneworld line, the help desk line connecting 14 Alliance members.
“We can take a customer around the world and back again with this Alliance,” she said.
Representatives from all 14 members of the Alliance met Tuesday evening at Mary Atiya’s home in Burleson, treated to purely Texan fare of barbecue and homemade banana pudding.
“I didn’t know what brisket was,” said Kenji Ichimura, an international reservation support group leader for Japan Airlines. “It’s my first time to try it. I had never experienced real Texas barbecue.”
Oneworld gathers Alliance partners in alternating months for conference calls, and annually holds a face-to-face meeting with partners. The annual meeting began Tuesday at the Atiya’s home.
“You make bonds and create teamwork with others that you can take back home,” said Jorge Thiermann, who serves in a similar capacity to Ichimura for Latam Airlines in Chile.
He was last in Texas in 2002, when he completed veterinary school. During his return, he decided he would get a cowboy hat, which he purchased Tuesday at C.B. Fincher’s.
“We have cowboys in Chile; not like the cowboys you have here,” Thiermann explained.
The hats worn by Chilean cowboys are flat brimmed, and he’ll bring back a different looking hat.
“I like to collect things from places I visit,” he said. “Texas is known for cowboys, so I had to get a cowboy hat.”
The week in North Texas won’t be all leisure, Ichimura explains.
“Everyone has issues to solve,” he said. “Our customers don’t just fly with one carrier. We try to reach some solutions together. If we’re not in alliance with each other, there are a lot of things we can’t solve.”
The common language of the Alliance is English, which is the only practice Maria Safaeva gets with the language. She serves in a similar capacity to Ichimura and Thiermann at an airline in Russia. She resides in Siberia, and almost no one there speaks English. Although the Texas climate is quite warmer, Siberia is not as cold as some may imagine, she said.
“We have had very warm weather this year,” Safaeva said. “Right now it is 57 degrees [fahrenheit]. Last week it was 82 degrees. In the winter it can be as cold as minus-22 degrees, but its fine because it is dry air.”
She likes the opportunity to meet others in her position around the world.
“It offers a lot of benefits,” Safaeva said. “We can speak to each other in informal situations. Someone may have new procedures and ways to solve problems.”
After interacting with others in the Alliance, she had hoped to have time to enjoy her stay in North Texas.
“I want to meet new people and have a good time,” Safaeva said, adding she hoped to have time to also shop for items not available in Russia.
“It is possible to communicate with other countries,” she said.
The oneworld Alliance helps carriers to communicate as one, Ichimura said. And Van Straten is hopeful the brief time during the face-to-face conference will produce improved service for clients of all 14 member airlines.
“It helps having someone you can go to and trust,” she said. “We all want to be sure we can call someone who has the answer.”