NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A flight change, a cancellation, or just a question about your seat. No matter what you call about right now, you may hear this.
“Your estimated wait time is greater than 60 minutes!"
Aggravating flyers like Bobbie Moseley and Jo Hicks.
“I waited four hours for a six-minute phone call,” La Vergne resident Bobbie Moseley said.
“The wait time said 51 hours, and I said oh my gosh! No way I’m waiting 51 hours,” Nashville resident Jo Hicks said.
Call 4 Action Problem Solver Caresse Jackman called 6 airlines to see how long it would take for us to get through. American Airlines took 14 hours to return our call. We were on hold with Delta and Allegiant for over an hour. After an hour with no answer, we hung up.
United Airlines told us that it would take more than 60 minutes, but a representative came on the line after 47 minutes. Southwest took only 16 minutes to answer and Spirit took only 8 minutes to come to the phone.
“I think that’s going to happen all throughout the summer,” Gary Peterson, International Vice President with Transport Workers Union of America said.
The reason? Peterson says there’s a ton of them: COVID-19 and the impact of the pandemic, some airlines offering packages for senior officials to retire early, plus cries for increases in wages and salaries. All of those, Peterson says, are major factors.
“We’ve given them opportunities to come forward with ideas and financial incentives for people to hire on. They have to just choose to do that.
When News 4 looked at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the annual mean wage in 2020 for a customer service representative was just over $36,000.00
For the two women we spoke with, they hope the next time they choose to fly, there’s a different response on the other line.
“Please try and hire more people. Pay people. Pay them what they’re worth so that they can come work for you,” Jo Hicks said.
Both women agree, when they finally got a hold of someone, the customer service representatives were amazing and professional. They just want the airlines to improve the time it takes to handle calls.
When News 4 reached out to the airlines, none of them agreed to an on-camera interview.
They issued the following statements:
“We are appreciative that Customers are returning to travel with us this summer, and Southwest Representatives are dedicated to providing Customers with outstanding Southwest Hospitality. We appreciate Customers’ patience during this peak travel season if they happen to experience any longer-than-normal hold times. Our representatives are working 24 hours per day, seven days per week to serve Southwest Customers as quickly as possible.”
Southwest airlines added that customers can self-service on their website if possible and that hold times tend to be longer in the evenings.
“Southwest’s staffing plan is aligned with our planned summer schedule. Southwest has never enacted involuntary furloughs in our 50-year history, and there were no furloughs during the pandemic. Additionally, Southwest enjoys a strong reputation for being an employer of choice, and the airline appreciates the continued interest from job candidates for our available positions.”
Delta Airlines referred us to an article where they mention that the company plans to increase staffing in reservations and customer care, airport customer service and cargo, flight operations and tech operations.
“Our outstanding colleagues have worked so hard over the last year to ensure not only Delta’s survival but our long-term success,” said Joanne Smith, Delta’s E.V.P. and Chief People Officer. “As we shift gears toward recovery, we know we need reinforcements to help us serve our customers this summer. We’re excited to add more talented professionals to the Delta family who share our passion for connecting the world.”
“Airlines across the industry are experiencing unprecedented call volume. We at Allegiant are ramping up hiring in key areas within our call center to address the increased demand.”
“We’re currently experiencing some hold times that are longer than we would like as customers make plans to return to travel. We’re excited to see demand come back, and are hiring hundreds of Reservations agents to support our customers. American is also the only major U.S. carrier to offer customers the option to request a call-back within a 7-day period at a time of day selected by the customer, so they can avoid a hold time and discuss their travel plans at a time most convenient for them.”
The airline is also making plans to hire hundreds of reservation agents to support the increased volume and they’re making technology updates to help customers find information on aa.com. In the mobile app and via chat with their representatives.