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Reader Q: The Fastest Way To Reach an Airline Rep?

Imagine actually holding airlines accountable for things that go wrong. Brianna wants to know the best way to actually get in touch with someone.

So, without much ado:

Why does it seem so hard to get in touch with someone at US Air? I’m tired of being stuck on hold all the time and not getting my answers quickly answered. Is there a better way to contact the airlines or do they always just win?

Brianna

Hey Brianna,

The twentieth century is great. You’ve got phone, email and about 900 other ways to get in touch with someone else without ever having to actually speak to a real live human being. But maybe that’s exactly the problem: there are 900 ways to get in touch. Too many damn options.

My favorite way to get in touch with any of the airlines these days basically involves using Twitter to air your grievances. Though I wouldn’t suggest signing up for an account just to, chances are generally pretty high that if you choose to use this routes your question will be answered rather quickly. Twitter, in particular, though, seems to be avenue of choice when it comes to customer relations. Besides, Facebook seems to have the monopoly on baby photos.

To answer your here and now, the fastest way to contact US Airways would be through their Twitter handle at @USAirways. For more complicated questions, try calling a phone agent to deal with your problem. If you need to submit a complaint, we suggest taking a look at this form, which the phone agent will probably most likely redirect you to as well. However, most airlines are great at pushing answers out via Twitter in even under an hour.

One of my favorite sites, Skift, recently conducted some research on how some of the top airlines hold up when it comes to Twitter response rates. It turns out the quickest airlines to any Twitter inquiries include American, JetBlue, US Airways, Air Canada, and Southwest. North American airlines tend to be the fastest at spouting out an answer. In fact, the speediest of them all happens to be American Airlines in just under twelve minutes, followed by JetBlue at fifteen minutes.

A brief overview on Twitter responsiveness.

A brief overview on Twitter responsiveness. (Skift)

The other airlines that are just quick to respond are actually Asian airlines, though it’s not the big names that you’d expect to see. They include lesser-known airlines such as IndiGo—they’ll have an answer for you in sixteen minutes—Philippine Airlines, and PT Garuda Indonesia. I’m not exactly sure why some of the bigger carriers like British Airways, Cathay Pacific and even Air New Zealand aren’t as quick to develop their social media infrastructure.

Most of the airlines mentioned above have a reply rate of about 90% within an hour, with the exception of Southwest at 60% and PT Garuda Indonesia at 80%. Still, if you think about it, that’s a pretty decent turnaround rate considering that getting an airplane representative on the phone can take longer than the couple of seconds it takes to type out your question. (It at least involves several minutes of horrible elevator music after trying to navigate a frustrating voice-command menu.)

It’s interesting to note that Air Canada has about six people working at its Twitter helm, all of whom reportedly have experience working at the airline’s call center. Meanwhile, Southwest’s Twitter account is composed of ten people spread across its communication and customer relations department. I imagine they’re used to working with irate passengers. Patience of a saint, these people.

Just the other day, I needed to ask Delta (@DeltaAssist) about their current alcoholic drink policy and decided to turn to Twitter to find the answer. They replied to me within a minute (60 seconds!), but I needed some more specific information. They ended up asking me to DM my confirmation number so they could verify, but the whole process up to that point only took eleven minutes. Qatar Airways (@QatarAirways) is also another great company that uses social media to its full advantage, though it seems to have relied less on that as late.

In a nutshell, Twitter is fantastic if you have a fairly simple question or issue. In all other cases, if it’s more complicated like rerouting specific itineraries, it’s definitely worth it to get an agent on the phone. Serious complaints are often best left to email, though Twitter can be a great source as where to send that letter to.

Oh, and don’t forget to follow us.

Map Sherpa

If you have a travel-related question, don’t be afraid to contact me or send me an e-mail at [email protected]. You can always trek up a mountain to find me too, but you don’t want to do probably that, baa.



[Skift]

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