5 To 8 Hours To Speak To An American Airlines Agent? Here’s How To Get Help Now

Travel has been picking up, and airlines haven’t always scaled their call center capacity to match. Add in some bad weather – take Denver, for instance, on Monday where there was snow and more delays than any other airport in the world – and wait times to speak to an airline agent really grow. This has been an issue across airlines, and even wait times for elite frequent flyers who get call center priorities have been longer than usual at times lately.

American Airlines customers, especially, reported long wait times on Monday and into Tuesday – 5 to 8 hours, even – and customers are bringing receipts.

If you find yourself facing long hold times and need for assistance with a reservation:

  1. Try twitter. Wait times for assistance via twitter direct message seemed to hover around an hour, based on social media reports. Plus you don’t have to wait on hold.

  2. Dial an international call center. The U.K. call center, or Australia – which rings to Fiji or Trinidad depending on time of day – offers agents who speak English. For simple requests like flight changes you may be able to get help from a call center that isn’t backed up, and when there’s bad weather in the U.S. it’s usually just U.S. call centers that face delays. (For Delta I’ve always used their Singapore dial-in.)

  3. Use the app. If you could do whatever it is you need online or via mobile app, you probably wouldn’t be trying to call, which is why it’s so frustrating to have to wait through automated messages when you do call telling you to go online. But American’s app has become more functional over the past couple of years for dealing with rebooking during irregular operations. So it’s worth trying there first.

  4. Seek help from a live person. If you’re at the airport, you have the ticket counter, gate, customer service, and – if you have access – the club (of course many of those are still closed, though American isn’t provided reductions in fees for access). If you’re facing an 8 hour wait to speak to an agent, it could even make sense to go to the airport

  5. Find help from an elite member. Use your social media to find an elite, that faces a shorter hold time, to assist you in getting through. You probably know someone through Facebook or Twitter that might help.

  6. Accept a callback. Even if you don’t think you need it, or hope you won’t, set up a callback because 8 hours from now it will be nice to have an agent ring you. If you don’t answer you aren’t wasting an agent’s time or taking time away from someone else, since the automated system won’t connect you to a person until you’ve answered. This is just a way to virtually wait in line, worth having as a backup.

  7. Make your own plans without the airline. If your flight cancels you can get a refund (later). If you paid for your trip with the right credit card and your flight is sufficiently delayed or cancelled you likely have coverage to help pay for unexpected costs like hotels, meals, and ground transport. If you have miles you may be able to secure another flight without substantial out of pocket. Find a way to solve your own problem, and take up the issue of compensation later, rather than waiting for an airline to help you.

  8. Know exactly what you want when you do connect. Do your research ahead of time. Know what flight you want to change to, or exactly what you need and are entitled to, so that the call is as painless as possibel. During irregular operations flight availabiltiy can change rapidly, so have open a tool (even if it’s just the airline’s website) to find real-time flight availability and know exactly what sort of rebooking to ask for.

This advice is not at all limited to American Airlines.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Speaking of long hold times – one of the worst things companies do is to play adverts or even have a voice come on every 30 seconds or so to say “thank you for waiting” or similar.

    When they just have music without announcements on hold – I can just put the phone on speakerphone and get work done. The music is just background but does not interfere with my concentration.

    But when they have a voice come on every so often – that interferes with concentration and makes it difficult to do other things while waiting on hold.

    That problem is somewhat mitigated by the Pixel “Use Hold for Me” feature which cuts off the voice path until the called party ends the hold (https://support.google.com/assistant/answer/10071878?hl=en)

  2. They are busy concentrating on corporate political activism, no time to answer the phones!

  3. Good advice. Some airlines also accept private messages on Facebook which could be more convenient for people who don’t use Twitter. Twitter is a cesspool of bigots and morons

  4. One more: use text, UA and DL offer iMessage which I have have found to be the fastest option plus you don’t have to wait around!

  5. As part of the US Airways degradation of AA service, the wait time for the Executive Platinum number became long, way before Covid. Even under normal conditions the wait time is often 5-20 minutes. Throw in bad weather at a hub and the wait time becomes hours. On one occasion our trip was cancelled and I immediately called and scheduled a call back which finally came several hours later. By then all of the connections were gone and we had to take a lengthy delay and roundabout routing to get to our destination. On other occasions I never received a call back at the appointed time so I learned to stay on hold (speaker phone) if possible even if it was hours. You can do some things online but the unfortunate part of that is it only gives you just one or a few options. Some times the only option is to wait a full day but when I finally speak with a person I am able to connect thru another city much sooner. Online often will not not upgrade you either when flights are changed. My only satisfactory experience with the new SpiritAA is the Admirals Club if I am already at the airport. The Admiral’s Club staff can usually get something done but even there the lines can get long if that hub is effected by weather. Under the old AA if I called the Executive Platinum number I rarely waited at all and when I did it was never more than a few minutes. Just another indictment of how bad AA is today.

  6. I’ve called twice in the past year, usually use the text or just go on line. I am Gold and my waits have been less then 10 minutes.

  7. You can get elite access on AA and DL if you join BLM or Antifa. Otherwise they don’t have time for you. You must be one of those right wing haters.

  8. Just a note, Chase Sapphire Reserve will not cover your flight delay/cancelation extra charges, if you make alternate plans on your own.

  9. Mr. Parker and his team can’t be bothered with small stuff like this. Their focus is on alienating half of their customer base with corporate activism.

  10. I always use Twitter when interacting with AA and have maybe called once in the last year. They are responsive in under an hour and seem to offer a higher level of service than most phone agents. I also like having a copy of the conversation just in case something is missed on their end.

  11. Just another data point… called into AA to add an infant to existing reservation (which I can’t seem to do online or in app) yesterday at 3:15pm, the automated message said it would be four hours, and I then proceeded to miss the call-back at 11:15pm. Will try again in a few days (hopefully weather improves and staffing picks up a bit).

  12. I’ve had great chats with Customer service agents Linda and Leslie at AA and both were helpful and friendly and supper quick. Chat thru the mobile app.

  13. The future is here! 8 billion people in the world and they want us to talk to a digital world. They can suck it.

  14. Airlines need to be taken back to the days of government regulation and travel agents!
    Travel was so much more enjoyable back then.

  15. I suspect the lines are clogged up with people like me, who have flight credits for Covid-cancelled flights from 2020 that we’re trying to apply now to an upcoming trip. After trying for an hour (unsuccessfully) to book online, I had to give up and call. At around 10pm, I was advised that the wait time was “more than 4 hours.” I didn’t want to queue for a callback if that call was going to come at 2am, so I hung up still with no reservation. If only they would make it easier to rebook online, it would save so much time, frustration, and man hours for both the customer and the company.

  16. I do not get it. Try calling the IRS! They answer the phone that they are busy to call back another day when they are not. Like during the middle of the week. When you finally do get through they tell you that you have the wrong dept transfer you to the “right” one let you wait on hold 30 min then disconnect you.

  17. Not sure why so much AA singling-out. Delta is awful anymore as well, even as a Diamond Medallion

  18. I work for one of these large companies and we understand your pain! In fact when you call us wehear about it for the first 10 minutes of the call. Please be ready when we call you back or you get an agent because a lot of customers are not ready and it takes more time for you to find your information. Please be
    kind most of us are required 12 hour days to assist you. Please read your condition of contract with the airlines. We do have the right to change times, planes, seats and schedules. We all our sorry we have canceled some our small cities serve but the bottom line is your cities doesn’t have enough business and we are not making money there. Lastly I have worked for my company for over 25 years and all of us our well paid with great benefits and traveled the world. So please talk to us the way you would like us to speak to you…no cursing, threats or yelling.

  19. I am working 12 hour shifts cause the world is opening up again but the staffing is still at COVID levels and most people that call have no info and we spend 5 minutes just waiting for them to find it, no one calls the travel agency they used in the first place which we will refer them back to cause they are contracted rates that you can’t get through the airline and the recording tells you to call them nor do they listen to the recording telling them they can self service on line for seats or to check in or simple things like that, or to check COVID requirements which is on the website but I spend a lot of time telling people what they could of found on there own. We are not the CDC but have to field those calls too, throw in weather why the hell are you waiting on hold or a call back for a flight 4 months from now when the recording says we have high call volume? Just like every industry we have been affected by COVID get used to it

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