Travel News

Would You Wait For Over 6 Hours On Hold With An Airline?

on hold with an airline
Written by Charlie

American Airlines/US Airways have had some complaints as of late regarding waiting customers. On Sunday, I wrote about the flight that waited for 9 hours to take a 30 minute flight (combination weather/mechanical/crew) and now there are others that are talking about being on hold with AA for over 6 hours! One customer on Twitter has been posting videos showing on hold for over 11 hours! Other customers on Twitter have also talked about/mentioned waits in excess of 5 hours.

on hold with an airline

How long would wait on hold for an airline? / Stefano Panzeri /

On a recent phone call, I was on hold for almost 90 minutes and it was during a lot of their weather issues so I acknowledge that would cause a delay. It certainly makes a strong case as another reason to have elite status! When I was Diamond with Delta and there were delays that were stranding people in NYC for days, I was able to get to a person on the phone within 5 minutes and have my flight delay fixed in less than that. Not having any status with AA, I just had to wait.

In the case of this woman, she had a flight for the next day canceled and rebooked so she called to get it fixed. After spending 6 hours on hold, she finally just hung up. The customer on Twitter claimed he had been on hold for 3 hours before someone spoke with him and put him on hold again, where he waited for another 8 hours before having his problem addressed. He said that he was using multiple portable phones on chargers to get through the wait.

Want Shorter Wait Times?

If you find yourself in a similar situation, shorter wait times can often be had by calling the international phone numbers listed on the airlines’ websites. You would likely want to use Skype or some other internet service to avoid paying a large long-distance bill, but it is an option. Of course, you could also go to the airport and ask them for their help. I have had good success with that in the past, especially if you go right after a flight has checked in or right before (at smaller airports). I have been as polite as possible and they have always been very helpful in return.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • twitter teams are also much faster than phone reps in my experience. The only caveat is that they aren’t going to be able explain stuff or provide a ton of options, so if you don’t have an ideal plan in mind, don’t try it. You Direct Message them your PNR and the change you want and maybe a backup option and they usually write back with “all changes made” within an hour during IROPs.

  • Using to have them call you when an agent picks up allows you to continue doing other things while the website waits on the line for you then calls you. Used it last night for Delta. 90 minutes after I plugged in my phone number an agent picks up and the website immediately connected it to my cell phone. Zero actual time wasted waiting.

  • I was told the wait time as estimated at 6.5 hours but then they answered in about 25 minuites.

  • A few friends have waited on hold for around 4 hours but personally the most I’d wait is 20-30 minutes. I forget now which airline does it but some airline call centers will give you back a call when the next agent is available if you provide them your phone number.
    I agree with others that twitter is quite fast.

  • I live in the DFW area and during out Winter Storm last Sunday I was on hold with USAir for about 6 hours. The day before I was on hold with AA for 12 hours and then got the bright idea to call their Spanish Language Line and it was answered in 20 minutes. I do not speak Spanish but I gambled that all AA agents are bilingual and it worked great for me. When status is not a possibility then being creative is necessary. I was just very slow at figuring that out!

  • I was, every day for a week last week. It”s a complete joke. Was leaving for Hong Kong and needed to cancel the return. It was either get ahold of them or lose all those points. Freaking joke