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JFK airport trains its workers to be N.I.C.E.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone who worked at the airport was nice? At John F. Kennedy International Airport, they’re working on it.

On May 22, 30 veterans who work at the airport for several airlines, government agencies and private security and service companies will get N.I.C.E (Neutralize Irritations Customers Experience) program training to teach them how to use skills learned in the military to help frustrated passengers at the airport.

Many other airport employees at JFK have already gone through N.I.C.E training offered by the Human Resiliency Institute based at New York’s Fordham University, which also has a special program for veterans. Now the program is tapping vets already working at the airport to use their leadership skills to help enhance customer service.

“Through our Edge4Vets program, we at Fordham have first-hand knowledge of the strong leadership strengths vets possess,” said institute director Tom Murphy. “Now we’re tapping resources offered by vets working at the airport and training them to apply their inherent leadership strengths and their ‘N.I.C.E.’ tools to help their airport enhance service.”

Murphy said the special N.I.C.E. Corps training for veterans will include role–playing exercises in which they will use the keen observation skills they’ve learned in the military to spot and come to the aid of passengers in need of assistance. Members of the N.I.C.E. Corps will also be trained to note when other airport employees go out of their way to help frustrated passengers and to document those success stories on the ‘N.I.C.E’ website.

Employees caught using N.I.C.E. skills become eligible to win a variety of incentive awards, including gift checks, meals, and hotel stays. Two veterans participating in the JFK N.I.C.E. Corps will win a fishing trip to Alaska so they can catch salmon for a salmon-bake for the whole team.

The chance of winning that fishing trip isn’t what convinced veteran Egbert Haynes, a TSA supervisor at JFK, to volunteer to be captain of the JFK N.I.C.E. Corps. “I’m a New York boy; when I need fish I go to the fish market,” said Haynes. “But when I heard of the program and saw the potential to recognize the good things done daily by airport employees outside of their job description, it all made sense.”

In addition to JFK, employees at Los Angeles International Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport have been trained in the N.I.C.E. program.

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