Have you tried to contact a U.S. airline lately? Hold times are ridiculous…and seem to be getting worse. Wasn’t this what bailouts were supposed to prevent against? Instead, the longer hold times demonstrate how airlines took taxpayer money, pocketed it, and still are operating with limited staff.
Absurd Airline Hold Times Prove How Dumb Bailouts Were
At Award Expert, we’ve been on the phone a lot this week with airlines including:
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
The result has been a lot of frustration waiting for an agent. Like over four hours with Delta and two hours with United. Even getting up in the middle of the night to call Delta still resulted in a three-hour hold.
Granted, if I put in SkyMiles Diamond credentials or United 1K credentials, I can cut the time on hold dramatically…but we don’t abuse elite privileges by using special numbers for guests that do not hold that status.
And that means long holds…extremely long holds, just like most passengers have to face if they want to book, change, or cancel a flight.
That all got me thinking. Remember how the airline bailouts were sold last year?
Which is why we need everyone taking action to extend the aviation jobs program of the CARES Act. These jobs can be saved – keeping people employed, connected to healthcare and able to support economic recovery rather than depression. https://t.co/1PHWfD5Ttw
— Sara Nelson (@FlyingWithSara) July 9, 2020
But as View From The Wing correctly notes, airlines took the money, still reduced staff through separation programs, voluntary furloughs, and retirements, and now are not able to keep up with travel demand returning. Exhibit A: Look at all the flights Delta and American and Southwest have cancelled. Exhibit B: the long hold times.
Think about it, wasn’t CARES funding meant to keep everyone gainfully employed so the airline industry could boomerang back once a vaccine was developed and widely administered? How much collective American productivity has been lost when passengers must wait in excess of four hours on a hold to speak to an agent?
Remember to thank Congress for its regressive bailout of airlines next time you face a multi-hour hold time to change your flight.
Finally, thank you American Airlines for the call-back option. It’s beyond absurd that Delta and United do not offer a similar option. A four-hour hold is much more manageable when a callback is scheduled at a specific time and then comes on time. It always beats hold music!
I will say that all the phone calls themselves, one we got through, were generally pleasant. I had a particularly nice chat with a Delta agent who helped me change the date on a ticket…something that should have easily been doable online, but Delta’s website also leaves much to be desired.
But this is all so ridiculous. Talk about an inefficient system and this is hardly a problem that sprung up this week. Airline hold times have been bad for the last 2+ months and yet the airlines, even American, still have not found a way to get a full staff back up and running and reduce those waiting periods.
image: Delta Air Lines