An American Airlines passenger drove to Denver airport to rebook his seats after the airline's customer-service center left him on hold for nearly 4 hours

·3 min read
American Airlines jets on the runway at Philadelphia airport
US carriers collectively canceled at least 35,000 flights during the weekend of Brian Driver's call-center trouble.DANIEL SLIM / Contributor / Getty Images
  • An American Airlines passenger spent nearly four hours trying to rebook his seats over the phone.

  • He eventually gave up and drove 45 minutes to the ticket counter at Denver airport, per The WSJ.

  • It's a microcosm of the travel frustration faced by passengers this summer.

An American Airlines passenger who spent nearly four hours on hold with the airline's customer-service center grew so frustrated he drove 45 minutes to the airport to rebook his seats at the ticket counter.

Brian Driver, a radio station manager, needed to rebook his flight home after a business trip to Denver ended early, The Wall Street Journal reported. He said he initially tried to switch his flight using the airline's mobile service and website but was unable to do so.

He then called the airline's customer service center and was given a callback time of eight hours, according to The Journal. Eventually, he spoke to an agent via the airline's chat platform — but experienced further difficulty choosing his seats, according to the publication.

Driver tried calling the airline again the next day but was told to try later because the lines were busy, The Journal said. When he tried again the following morning he spent three hours and 45 minutes on hold, eventually growing so frustrated that he drove 45 minutes to rebook his seats at the ticket counter at Denver International Airport.

"This has been by far the worst airline call center experience I've ever had," Driver told The Journal.

A spokesperson for American Airlines told Insider that weather and air-traffic-control issues were behind long mid-June hold times, the highest the airline had seen over the past several weeks.

"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 airline said.

"Our hold times for all customers are now significantly lower than they were in the middle of the month. To support high summer demand, we welcomed hundreds of additional reservations agents this spring in anticipation of the season," the spokesperson said.

Driver could not immediately be reached for comment.

Driver's predicament is a microcosm of the travel frustration faced by passengers this summer amid a spate of flight delays and cancellations, as airlines struggle to cope with rising travel demand and passenger numbers.

In what is increasingly becoming the norm, US carriers collectively canceled at least 35,000 flights between the day of Driver's first call on June 16 and the end of the Juneteenth long weekend.

There's no singular issue, but ongoing staff shortages across the industry, exacerbated by mass layoffs during the pandemic, have left the aviation industry with little slack to cope with disruptions caused by poor weather, technical glitches that arise, or high passenger demand.

The result has been long lines at airports as airlines readjust their flight schedules to minimize disruption.

On Tuesday, Delta announced that it will let passengers reschedule tickets booked on flights between July 1 and July 4 for free. The airline hopes to give passengers more flexibility to plan around busy travel times.

Read the original article on Business Insider