An American Airlines passenger spent nearly four hours rebooking his seats over the phone.
He eventually gave up and drove 45 minutes to the Denver Airport counter, according to The WSJ.
It’s a microcosm of the travel frustration passengers are dealing with this summer.
An American Airlines passenger who had been on hold for nearly four hours at the airline’s customer service department became so frustrated that he drove 45 minutes to the airport to rebook his seats at the ticket counter.
Brain Driver, a radio station manager, had to rebook his flight home after a business trip to Denver ended early, The Wall Street Journal reports that† He said he initially tried to change his flight through the airline’s mobile service and website, but was unsuccessful.
He then called the airline’s customer service department and was given an eight-hour callback, according to The Journal. He eventually spoke to an agent via the airline’s chat platform, but according to the publication, he had even more trouble choosing his seats.
The driver tried to call the airline again the next day, but was told to try later because the lines were busy, according to The Journal. When he tried again the next morning, he was on hold for three hours and 45 minutes. He eventually became so frustrated that he had to drive 45 minutes to rebook his seats at the ticket counter at Denver International Airport.
“This is by far the worst airline call center experience I’ve ever had,” Driver told The Journal.
An American Airlines spokesperson told The Journal that the weather and air traffic control issues behind the long wait times in mid-June were the highest it had seen in recent weeks.
“These challenges, combined with an anomaly in this customer’s booking, resulted in an experience that fell short of what we want to offer our customers,” the airline said in a statement to the newspaper. The spokesperson said wait times are currently “significantly lower” compared to the middle of the month.
American Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. The driver was not immediately available for comment.
The driver’s predicament is a microcosm of the travel frustration passengers face this summer amid a wave of flight delays and cancellationsas airlines struggle to cope with rising demand for travel and passenger numbers.
In what is increasingly becoming the norm, US airlines collectively at least 35,000 flights canceled between the day of the driver’s first call on June 16 and the end of the Juneteenth long weekend.
There is no problem at all, but the ongoing staff shortages in the sector, exacerbated by massive layoffs during the pandemic, have aviation system with little slack to absorb disturbances due to bad weather, technical failures, or high passenger demand.
The result is long lines at airports as airlines adjust their flight schedules to minimize disruption†
On Tuesday, Delta has announced that it will allow passengers to rebook free tickets booked on flights between July 1 and 4† The airline hopes to give passengers more flexibility to plan around busy travel times.
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