My hotel had the phone number for America West; here’s what happened when I called

Jan 28, 2020

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In our life on the road, one of the first things Katie checks when arriving at a new hotel is the hotel information book. From details about pool and gym hours to whether or not the hotel has guest laundry, these books can be chock-full of helpful information to get acquainted with the hotel.

But, as with any printed materials, it’s hard to keep these hotel information books up to date. And our favorite way to figure out the age of the book is by looking at the list of airlines and airline phone numbers.

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For example, during a stay this week at the Clarion Hotel near Disney in Orlando, the guest services book had the following list of airline phone numbers:

Even at the time of printing, there were a few issues with this list. For example, the spelling of Qantas doesn’t include a “u.” Also, JetBlue doesn’t have a space and it’s JetBlue Airways not Airlines.

To make an informal game of it, I posted this list of airlines on Twitter to see who could triangulate the printing date, and Yahoo News’ Ethan Klapper expertly narrowed it down to between 2011 and 2014.

As Ethan alluded to, Continental Airlines (IATA code: CO) — which is absent from the list — technically ceased operations on March 3, 2012. AirTran’s final flight occurred on Dec. 28, 2014. So, the list of airline phone numbers seems to have been generated and printed between those dates.

Related: Unforgotten: The lost airlines of the U.S.

While it isn’t a great look to list information outdated by at least five years, this list is impressively up to date compared with a TownePlace Suites that we stayed at in Austin in late November 2019:

As noted above, Continental Airlines ceased operations back in 2012, so we know that this list is older than that. However, it’s worse than that that. For those not up to date on their aviation history, Northwest Airlines took its final flight on Jan. 31, 2010 and America West merged with US Airways in 2005; the two airlines merged their FAA operating certificates in on Sept. 25, 2007. Considering America West and US Airways are listed on the same line, I’d guess this list was generated between 2005 and 2007.

I tossed this tidbit out on Twitter figuring it was simply a case of humorously out-of-date information in a hotel book. But, a couple of AvGeeks pointed out that these old phone numbers can be useful:

So, my next step was obvious: I needed to call these numbers. Here’s what happened when I called the phone numbers for all of the airlines that no longer exist:

  • AirTran (800-825-8538): AirTran took its last flight in December 2014 before fully being integrated into Southwest. Calling this number yields a error message saying that the number has been disconnected.
  • America West/US Airways (800-428-4322): America West merged into US Airways, and US Airways’ final flight landed in October 2015 before being fully absorbed into American Airlines. Calling this number automatically directs to the American Airlines phone system, where my phone number was recognized and linked to my account.
  • Continental Airlines (800-523-3273): Continental Airlines ceased operations in March 2012 as part of its merger with United Airlines. Calling this number automatically directs to the United Airlines phone system, where my phone number was recognized and I was greeted by name.
  • Northwest Airlines (800-225-2525): Northwest Airlines ended its long and storied history in January 2010 as part of being merged into Delta. When I called this number, I received a recorded message thanking me for calling Delta Airlines, noting that the number has changed and directing me to call Delta at 800-221-1212.
  • Virgin America (877-359-8474): Virgin America was acquired by Alaska Airlines in late 2016, with the last Virgin America flight taking off on April 24, 2018. I let the phone ring, unanswered, for a minute before disconnecting.

Unfortunately that means that I didn’t uncover any back-door lines to Alaska, American Airlines, Delta, Southwest or United in these batches of old airline phone numbers. While airlines may have closed all of these phone shortcuts now, it’s worth trying out old numbers as you find them to see if they work.

Featured photo by Mandel Ngan via Getty Images.

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