The Most Outrageous Airline Hold Time Ever

Filed Under: Other Airlines

There’s huge variance when it comes to airline hold times, and I’ve written about frustrations related to that in the past. Well, I think Cebu Pacific Air just took that to a whole new level today.

Cebu Pacific has hold times to visit their website. Currently the hold time is 27 minutes.

Initially I was confused about this because it seems like it’s in the middle of the night in Asia, and if they were performing website maintenance you wouldn’t think there would be a queuing system.

However, some people have pointed out that it’s “Singles’ Day” in Asia, which is basically the equivalent of Black Friday, and is popular for online shopping. So it could be that they have some good fares.

Still, this seems like an odd approach to a fare sale…

(Tip of the hat to @BenPHL)

  1. They actually are running a sale today in Thailand. Their “11/11 Seat Sale” is offering base fares BKK-MNL for 1 THB.

  2. November 11th, known as “Singles Day” in Asia with massive online super sales in just about every Asian country

  3. The “what’s this” link at the bottom of the page includes eventId=novembersale2019 so it’s definitely something they did because of the sale.

    Also FWIW, I just visited and had less than a minute of waiting time.

  4. Back in July there were terrible thunderstorms in New York and Atlanta, and my friend who was a Diamond was getting quoted somewhere around 90 minutes for a callback. I called in on a whim with no status and was quoted north of 12 hours!

  5. Calling Delta Diamond is an exercise in futility. When you finally get a hold of someone they often can’t help you because they have somehow transferred you to someone in general reservations. Ugh! Funny, I never have a problem getting a hold of someone on American’s Executive Platinum desk.

    Does anyone at Delta care about phone support?

  6. try dealing with SWISS anything is over an hour of hold and it leads to nothing more than “we will email you within 24hrs” only to have to call back again and repeat the process as nothing was done and no one knows what occurred on the phone call from yesterday.

  7. As someone pointed out it is singles day 11/11. Cebu Pacific have a huge sale on. This airline is used a lot by Filipina’s who are OFW (overseas foreign workers). As I used to live in the region – I follow them on FB. Reading the comments on the post announcing the sale, there are lots of comments about Dubai. HK and Singapore. OFWs are low income earners. So this sale would be an ideal way for them to return back to visit their families. Part of the problem is that often (not all) the OFWs are not educated – so using an online booking tool is difficult for them I used to live in Singapore where many households employee the OFW as their “helper” – ie live in maid. Under Singapore Law, the employer must pay for a trip back to the PH once every 2 years (many actually pay for more frequent trips). The helpers prefer to fly Cebu as (1) They don’t have to deal with Manila (ie changing terminals or long queues for OFW) and (2) In many cases it is a direct flight that takes them closer to home. I understand that there is a lot of CC fraud between Singapore and PH (I have not seen evidence of this), so the time allocated might relate to the fraud. The problem is that the employer will buy the ticket using their CC – which means that the passport traveller does not match the name on the credit card. The airlines often insist on physically seeing the credit card that made the purchase – employers can get around this by going to “Lucky Plaza”. Despite the fact I have purchased tickets on my corporate CC, I have been asked 4 times. All these issues mean performance online, at the airport etc are impacted and protocols introduced to minimise fraud.

  8. Every time I try to call Aeroplan it takes at least an hour, generally longer to get through. And they removed email contact forms from their website, so now you have to call and wait forever on hold for simple things an email could take care of.

    For example, Aeroplan didn’t properly refund a ticket a cancelled, but rather than send an email to straighten it out, I had to wait 1.5 hours on old this week.

  9. My wife and I just booked on Cebu Pacific the other day. Although there was no wait time, the website was annoying to say the least. After my wife put our entire families information and payment info in and submitted it reset the page. We had to start all over and the fare price had increased. Unfortunately, Cebu Pacific is one of the only choices for air travel in the Philippines

  10. I have had to wait for Delta for 2 hours before on the Medallion line as well. But I was calling during a hurricane or something. I really don’t mind though. I know there will almost always be a wait. But Delta’s system will call me back within the time they quote. So I just plan to get other stuff done while I am waiting for a callback.

  11. Well they offer HK$1 flights from Hong Kong to all their destinations, plenty of availability.
    27 minutes are better than expectation
    If Delta offers $1 flights from ATL on Black Friday I am sure the same thing will happen

  12. There must be several tiers of Delta “Diamond” out there, with the comments I’m seeing above. I’ve been Diamond for 5 years and can count on two hands the times I’ve had over a 3 minute hold – the vast majority are instant pickups. On average I call once per week to two weeks.

    And once through, the agents actually want to help. Not the UA 1K agents (“1K desk, this is Bob…(silence)” and the how-can-I-not-help-you AA ExP line.

    Delta still has a few things to improve, but customer service is not one of them.

  13. Not understanding why the airline has done this doesn’t make it unreasonable.

    It costs significant sums of cash to build scalable systems, and depending on how their architecture is laid out, scaling up to handle the influx without the benefit of a waiting page may be extremely expensive or simply impossible.

    It’s far more common than the majority of people those.

  14. This is pretty standard practice in the ticket sales industry for events when there is a big rush on a site to get tickets (e.g. when an A-list artist goes on tour). Could you in theory solve this problem through engineering, sure, but you also build hype this way and it works to limit and manage the inventory to make sure seats are actually being bought and not just being left in shopping carts.

  15. To be fair, i wouldn’t call the US third world. But yes, black friday / cyber monday / whatever sales day is complete marketing nonsense.

  16. @Wolfgang: Certainly not every Asian country. Only the eastern Asian ones, and above all China.

    India, for instance, has absolutely zero knowledge of 11/11. The date has no significance in India.

  17. As others have pointed out, it’s 11-11, a huge sale. The $2 fares sell out rapidly so lots off people try as soon as the sale opens.
    As Megan points out, for a lot of OFW catching one of these fares means going home to see family – or not for a long time…
    This also applies to other LCC in the regions. A lot of their web sites have “waiting rooms” to manage the traffic they can’t handle otherwise. This way, you don’t get an error and keep your place in line…
    If you are reading this blog, you can likely afford to wait a day or two to avoid the insufferable wait and buy a “regular” fare which is still a fraction of what a comparable flight in North America would be…

  18. Many waited online for OVER 5 HOURS during ticketmaster’s Taylor Swift fan presale for her four US concerts next year and were still unable to get tickets.

  19. It even says why they are doing it – to manage the traffic.

    And much better to have something like this waiting room as they call it than people getting frustrated with what they might think is just a broken website when they get no response or stuck pages.

    Ben put this is your (growing) “what is the most inconsequential thing I can complain about” file.

  20. You can’t be serious. I’ve routinely had to wait 50 minutes or longer than an hour with American Airlines. Would have loved wait times of 27 minutes with them.

  21. Honestly, 11 November is not an “Asian” or even southeast Asian thing. It is only a thing in mainland China, but slowly spreading to other parts of the region.

  22. I’m starting to find it hilarious that in every single article, Lucky explains to us why what an airline is doing doesn’t make sense/is crazy.

  23. Air Asia used to have this waiting time page years ago when it couldn’t take the heavy traffic during their free seats sales

  24. Egyptair… Imma vent, because I don’t think anyone would understand my frustration except for the readers here. I have 14,230 miles. I want to fly from Istanbul to the Middle East in 5 days. On Saturdays the only way to call them is through Dubai or Egypt, there is no 800 number except for Monday – Friday 9 – 5. Calling Egypt wouldn’t work on Skype.. So I used Dubai for 33 cents per minute. 20 minutes (or $6.60 later) they answer. They tell me that the flight would be 15,000 miles. The award chart shows 25K RT, half that for 1 way. That would be 12,500 miles. I tell them that’s not what the award chart shows. I have 14,230 miles. Ok, how much is it to buy 1000 miles? $50(!) Ok, fine, let’s buy the miles. You have to call back on Monday and speak with the Miles department. Ok. Angry but whatever. Call on Monday, 20 minute hold, speak with the miles department, they pass me to general reservations. I tell them the chart says 12,500.. Yeah, no one cares. It’s 15,000. Ok, fine let’s buy the miles. It takes 4 days for the miles to post to your account. Is there anyway we can bypass that? I’m willing to spend the money, I just need this done. No. Can you credit 770 miles for customer service because I’ve been on hold at 33 cents per minute. “Sir, would you walk into a bank and expect free money”? Is there any way I can get this done? You can call the ticket office. Call the ticket office in NY and in Istanbul. The Istanbul office cannot take a credit card over the phone. The NY office (after 1 hour on hold) says it takes 3 days to book a Star Alliance award. The taxes are $80, the miles are $50. Pegasus airways has a flight for $130 next day. Da fuq? Is this legal?Worst program/miles ever.

  25. The topic is misleading. “The most outrageous” seems a bit too far-fetched especially when you know that it’s Singles Day in Asia which is a Black Friday equivalent. 27 minutes hold time is certainly frustrating but far from the label “The most outrageous”

    Please don’t be bias because you don’t understand the culture on the other side of the world. The world is filled with too many bias and radical people already don’t be one.

  26. Have you timed it and see if it really held your session for 27 minutes? I guess not. You know how file transfer time works in a computer? You transfer a 1 gigabyte file from your USB and it will initially show you an estimated time to finish. The initial estimate is double than the real completion time, as the system is still computing the resources. I was on queue for 7 minutes but it took me to the website less than that. Get your facts straight.

  27. Why are still fighting for same resource in English? For those who speak another language, do yourself the favor and call the reservation desk serving another language. The queues are probably shorter. When there’s a long queue for DL’s call center, I go to their French or Spanish reservations and got equally good service.

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