Los Angeles International Airport was recently ranked one of the 10 most improved airports in the world.
But SkyTrax, the air-transport industry research company that gave LAX that ranking, also listed the facility as the 86th best airport in the world, behind airports in Russia, South Korea, Colombia and Peru.
LAX officials are hoping to improve the airport's perception among travelers by launching an airport-wide employee training program to "deliver a gold-standard" experience.
The effort is the airport's first facility-wide training program. It includes not only LAX workers — police, janitors and customer service workers — but also employees at the airport's restaurants, coffee shops and retail outlets.
In October, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners approved a contract worth up to $1.6 million with Maryland-based Customer Service Experts to help implement the training program.
Under the program, each of the airport's 50,000 employees will watch a one-hour film on how to be more courteous, helpful and informative. New employees will also undergo the training program.
To test workers, Customer Service Experts will send undercover "shoppers" through the airport to gauge how they are treated by LAX staff and vendors. If an LAX employee gets a low score based on how he or she treated a "shopper," the employee will have to undergo additional training.
"This program is challenging because we have so many people and so many tenants," said Barbara Yamamoto, chief experience officer at Los Angeles World Airports, which runs LAX. "But it is needed."
Still, she noted that LAX employees can't be blamed if a traveler has a bad experience at the airport because of gnarly roadway construction, relocated gates and extra long screening lines.
"There's a lot of things that happen at the airport that are not the fault of any particular person," she said.
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