Customers Spending 3+ Hours On Hold To Reach Delta: How To Get Through Right Away

In recent years, Delta has offered the worst customer service by phone with the longest hold times for customers, although of course all airlines have challenges.

When bad weather hits, more passengers call in than normal, and overwhelm phone lines. Of course bad weather is predictable most of the time. That’s what meteorologists are for. But while an airline may had overtime, they in general they staff on averages (which include making customers, at least non-elite customers, wait). They don’t staff based on the days that customer needs will peak. Telephone staffing is costly.

So as weather affected Delta operations, their telephone hold times became interminable with numerous customers sharing to social media how they waited over three hours to speak to an agent for help.

When customers did finally get through, some fell victims to Delta’s phone systems which cut them off! Imagine waiting for hours for assistance with cancelled trips and… then having to start all over.

Delta’s messaging app wasn’t much better than waiting on the phone, either.

When faced with hour long hold times, Delta has told customers their best bet it to email the CEO. At one point top tier frequent flyers were waiting up to 41 hours to speak to an agent when they called.

Fortunately there is a workaround for all of this! Delta has a dedicated number with priority for travel within 48 hours: 1-855-548-2505.

One reader that faced a 7 hour hold time on the regular reservations line told me their call was answered in under 15 minutes, and their problem solved. Bookmark this number.

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, 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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. The bigger problem isn’t the excessive call times to reach a front-line customer service agent. Rather, the problem is when you do reach an agent they often have to speak to a reissuing desk for anything complicated due to weather, cancellations, schedule changes, etc. As a diamond, I’ve called the Diamond Desk and got an agent in less than 1 minute. But then had to hold an hour for a reissuing agent to assist the customer service agent.

  2. If Delta is telling everyone to email the CEO, I certainly hope they plan to staff up and hire multiple CEOs!

  3. I recently called UA. While the hold seemed to be less, the agents were not trained and most did not understand or care of customers’ needs. It is frustrating and extremly annoying when passengers call to seek help with trips and instead get introduced with Chase credit cards!!! These days passengers have to beg them to help or have sympathy. The UA tone voice was very different than the time it was covid and they begged us for support!

  4. FTN Delta DM.
    The problem is that when we call the Diamond Desk we often don’t really reach the Diamond Desk at all…..just another rep who often is inexperienced. Just hang up and call back. And hope.

  5. I don’t get your logic. Am I not better off picking Alaska or Delta as a partner (1 or 2 miles per $1 depending on the situation) and then using my Chase Sapphire to pay (getting 5 points per $1)?

  6. Agree with FNT, that is the biggest issue. Frontline reservation agents have no authority to do anything remotely complex so it’s always an hour+ wait for a supervisor.

  7. 3 hours sounds amazing! I’ve frequently had 6-10 hours on hold for AA. One call which I started around 9pm, my timer had clicked over 9 hours and when the agent came on around 6am, and he wanted to spend the first 10 minutes arguing that there’s no way I had been on hold for 9 hours. I had a weather cancelation and needed another option. He “assured” me that there were absolutely no other available flight options. Once I pointed him to the several easily searchable flights showing available on the AA website, he relented and begrudgingly rebooked me on one of those.

    AA sucks. I’ll take a 3 hr hold on Delta any day.

  8. I called yesterday, waited on hold for around 36 minutes, then the friendly agent asked me to hold for a few minutes while he checked on alternative flights (my parents’ flight got cancelled). After approximately two more hours on hold, I was transferred to Orbitz’s automated phone system. I have no idea why. This flight was booked directly through Delta with miles.

  9. I am curious as to what happens to the call if the travel date is more than 48 hours out? Does the IVR automatically release the call or does a person politely inform the caller that they must call again within 48 hours of travel? I can see abuse now that this number is available.

  10. @Travis – Delta was paying apparently so no Chase earning, but my point was to earn 2 Bilt points per dollar for the ride (independent of payment)

  11. They definitely do need to beef up their call (and messaging) center staffing, but regarding the part about elites waiting 41 hours, that was a 2021-only thing. While the wait times for elites were indeed crazy in 2021, that hasn’t really been the case in my experience since 2022. I’m PM and essentially all of my calls have been answered in under 5 minutes for the last year or so. When a flight was cancelled out of CDG due to a sick pilot, I immediately called before even joining the line to speak with the gate agents and had a (still business-class) seat on the next available flight within about 3 minutes.

    2021 was a very different story. Waited 10 hours on hold at one point.

    Like others have said, though, for stuff that requires a ticket reissue (or mileage credit adjustment,) the front-line agent usually isn’t able to handle it themselves and there’s often a significant wait for them to speak with the reissue desk or the SkyMiles desk.

    There has at least been one dramatic (relatively) recent improvement on this, though: You no longer have to call to apply RUCs or GUCs. It can (finally) be done online. This should have removed a pretty significant load from the reissue desk.

  12. Delta also gives the option of a callback when your place on the waiting list comes up. No need to stay online.

  13. I might be missing something, but why have there been so many mainline DL cancellations lately?

    7% of flights canceled Friday, 12% yesterday, 9% today. UA had issues with ORD and EWR (and DEN on Friday), and AA with major DFW problems, but their cancellations are nowhere close to DL’s numbers.

  14. What happens when US airlines take federal grants only to pocket their upper management who do nothing but sit around collecting paychecks. Sad reality of the lazy US work force

  15. @Gary, yes DL was impacted by storms in MSP and DTW but UA/AA had storms in ORD. DEN went on a delay program on Friday when winds allowed the use of only the two east-west runways. Issues in EWR and SFO impacted UA and while AA dealt with DFW storms.

    Just seems like DL had a much tougher go of things, especially on Sunday when weather was quieter, except for AA in DFW. DL lately seems to need more time to recover. Maybe the don’t but it sure looks like it.

  16. In this environment, it’s very difficult to adequately staff call centers. For one, hiring good quality people is difficult – there aren’t enough good candidates applying. And then, each day many phone reps will call out – thus understaffing an already understaffed call center.

  17. In this environment, it’s very difficult to adequately staff call centers *with the poor compensation offered*. For one, hiring good quality people *willing to work for cheap* is difficult – there aren’t enough good *remove good, replace desperate* candidates applying. And then, each day many phone reps will call out *mostly because of the lack of affordable childcare in our country*– thus understaffing an already understaffed call center.

    Hey ChrisInNY—I fixed that for you!

  18. Mark:
    The Friday Minneapolis storm was near historic and shut down the entire airport late Frida and early Saturday.

    I know because I flew from ORD to MSP

    ORD was nothing compared to MSP

  19. And beware of the scams! I thought I was being clever so I tried the site “Get a Human” and put Delta in – when I called the number I got someone who claimed to be at the Delta “Consolidation desk” and tried to help me book the flight for a surcharge of $3,000.00.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *