‘Current hold time is eight hours and 31 minutes’: Travelers face frustrating waits to reach airlines

Frequent flyer Jay Groh rarely calls airlines for help.

The Atlanta sales executive books his travel online or on airline mobile apps with little trouble.

Until the coronavirus pandemic. Like travelers around the globe, Groh had to cancel trips planned for 2020 and ended up with travel credits.

When he tried to redeem a Delta Air Lines credit online to book a flight for his wife’s 40th birthday trip to California this fall, he kept getting error messages. So he called Delta. Twice.

The first time he called in late May the wait was more than two hours. He got in the virtual queue for a call back but missed the call due to a work meeting.

Groh called Delta again a week and a half later – on a Tuesday around lunchtime. The quoted wait time: 7 hours and 40 minutes.

He eventually got booking help from a Delta representative on Twitter, but the delays cost him: the ticket price went up $200 from his initial online search.

“If the website had worked, I would have booked on the website and locked in the $500 price for the ticket,” he said.

Travelers returning to the skies this summer after COVID lockdowns can add long wait times to reach airlines to the already lengthy list of frustrations as travel rebounds more quickly than even airline executives poised for the pent-up demand expected. One traveler said in a Twitter post that she accidentally fell asleep while on hold with an unnamed airline and was still on hold when she woke up.

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