An American Airlines passenger has revealed that he drove 45 minutes to the airport to receive help in person booking seats for his flight after waiting on hold for four hours with customer service to no avail.
Brian Driver, a radio station manager, was in Denver, Colorado, for a business trip the week before Juneteenth and Father’s Day when he called American Airlines about changing his flight home.
According to Driver, who spoke to The Wall Street Journal, he began trying to change his flight on Thursday, after he learned his business trip would be ending two day early.
At first, Driver said he tried to make the change on the airline’s website, which he was unable to do. Then he told the outlet that he tried the American Airlines mobile app, which also informed him that it wouldn’t allow the changes.
According to Driver, he then called American Airlines’ customer service hotline, which he told The Wall Street Journal quoted him a callback time of eight hours.
On the same day Driver began trying to reach the airline, The Wall Street Journal reports more than 10,000 flights to, from and within the United States were cancelled or delayed. The number of cancelled or delayed flights increased over the holiday weekend, with the number reaching 19,000, according to USAToday.
While he waited for a phone call back from an airline representative, which Driver eventually received at 1.38am, he told the outlet he was successful in reaching an online agent for the airline after a 90 minute wait. He was able to book a new flight using the airline’s chat option, however, his saga wasn’t over yet, as he realised the next day that he wasn’t able to book his preferred seats on the flight.
Driver told The Wall Street Journal he called American Airlines again on Friday, at which point he said callers were told to try calling back later. On Saturday, after waiting three hours and 45 minutes on hold with the airline’s customer service, Driver eventually chose to drive the 45 minutes to Denver International Airport so that he would be able to speak with someone in person.
“This has been by far the worst airline call center experience I’ve ever had,” he said.
In a statement to the outlet, a spokesperson for American Airlines said hold times in June were the highest it has seen in recent weeks, and were caused by “widespread weather and ATC (air-traffic control) issues”.
“These challenges, combined with an anomaly in this customer’s booking, resulted in an experience that did not meet what we aim to deliver for our customers,” the spokesperson said, adding that hold times are now “significantly lower”.
According to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) data, Friday was recorded as the most popular air travel day of 2022. In addition to weather issues, the travel chaos was the result of continued airline staffing shortages, according to USAToday.
The Independent has contacted American Airlines for comment.