If you want to get something done, you have to do it yourself.
That age-old phrase rang true for radio station manager Brian Driver. When his business meetings in Denver wrapped up two days early the week of Father’s Day, he called American Airlines to rebook — only to be faced with an eight-hour callback time.
“This has been by far the worst airline call center experience I’ve ever had,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
Driver had first tried to change his flight on the airline’s website on June 16, according to the Journal. When it wouldn’t let him rebook, he tried American Airlines’ mobile app but got similar results. Though he managed to reach an agent on the chat platform who rebooked his flight, Driver said the agent couldn’t change his preferred seat.
Driver didn’t know it yet, but airlines had either canceled or delayed more than 10,000 flights departing, arriving or flying within the United States that day, according to The Independent.
American Airlines ultimately did call Driver back, but only when he was fast asleep at 1:38 a.m.
When he attempted to return the call later that day, the phone lines were so flooded with complaints that an automated message told Driver to try again later. He did just that on Saturday morning, only to spend three hours and 45 minutes on hold.
The disgruntled customer then just drove to Denver International Airport himself. Though he eventually managed to change his flight in person, the airline was fielding similar calls for days.
An American Airlines spokesperson told Business Insider that weather and problems with air traffic control had caused the long hold times.
“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 spokesperson said, adding that customer service hold times are now “significantly lower.”
By the time the Juneteenth holiday weekend was over, the number of canceled or delayed flights on airlines worldwide had exceeded 23,000 — with Friday recorded as the busiest day of flight travel of the year so far.