Having trouble getting through to Delta? You’re not alone

Jun 4, 2020

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Throughout the pandemic, airline call center agents have had to deal with unprecedented flight cancellations and reservation changes, leading to hours-long hold times, if customers were able to get through at all. As we explain in this post, we’ve generally had success reaching a Delta agent at 1-800-323-2323, but that isn’t the case right now.

Reader Tom S. contacted TPG to share his experience this week, and other Delta customers have also reached out to us, and posted on various social media platforms, about a current inability to reach a Delta agent over the phone. Of the three largest U.S. airlines, Delta appears to be the only carrier currently experiencing severe call center issues — calls placed to American as an Executive Platinum elite and United as a Premier 1K member were answered right away.

As for Delta, I’ve made many attempts to contact the airline myself, most of which resulted in the following prerecorded message:

Due to extremely high call volume, we are unable to answer your call. If you need to travel within the next week, please try your call again later, or message us from Delta.com/needhelp or by clicking the “Message Us” button in the “More” section of the Fly Delta app.

Several TPG colleagues continue to hear the same message when they call, though Delta Platinum and Diamond elites on the team have been able to request a call-back, with wait times of between 42 minutes and two hours. TPG’s Zach Griff, meanwhile, was offered a call-back time of 50 minutes when calling his elite number, even though he didn’t enter his SkyMiles number, so it’s clear that “your mileage may vary” here.

Luckily, we’ve landed on a few workarounds, that even work for non-elites. Members of our team were able to get through without any wait at all by calling one of Delta’s international reservations numbers – such as for the UK – or by calling its number for group reservations.

While agents are dedicated to assisting customers traveling in a party of 10 or more, I spoke with a very friendly group reservations agent who was more than willing to assist with an individual reservation. I was also able to get the option of a call-back when calling the regular reservations line, 1-800-323-2323, by selecting the option to make a new reservation and providing an origin, destination and flight date the very next day. If you aren’t able to reach an agent through the UK or US group line, that’s an option to consider as well.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - APRIL 03: Planes belonging to Delta Air Lines sit idle at Kansas City International Airport on April 03, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. U.S. carriers reported an enormous drop in bookings amid the spread of the coronavirus and are waiting for a government bailout to fight the impact. Delta lost almost $2 billion in March and parked half of its fleet in order to save money. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

It seems that the current call center issues are related to a staffing shortage, after the carrier asked agents to take a leave of absence in an effort to control costs. In an internal memo to employees that was viewed by TPG, Tori Forbes-Roberts — the airline’s VP of reservations sales and customer care — asked agents to volunteer to come back to work. “The simple fact is we need 2,000 more people back on the roster in June and July in order to better deliver on the Delta Difference for our customers,” she explained.

As Forbes-Roberts explained, due to distancing protocols in place at a variety of call centers, agents may be required to work from home for the time being, including those based near Cincinnati, Dallas and Salt Lake City. According memo, Delta also plans to reassign some group sales agents, given the lack of demand for group travel, and other specialists may be answering “core customer” calls as well.

A Delta spokesperson confirmed the move:

As Delta continues to manage through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Reservations and Sales team is working diligently to serve our customers. Many of our specialists are returning from voluntary leaves of absence next week and Delta is expanding the training and capability of all specialists to be able to better serve the needs of any customer. We are also working to adjust and enhance technology to further support our specialists and continue to enhance our self-service options available on delta.com and the Fly Delta App. We appreciate our customers’ patience and apologize for any inconvenience some may be experiencing.

While nobody likes giving an airline a ring to make important flight changes only to hear “we are unable to answer your call,” with staffing ramping up, hopefully Delta’s main reservations line will be able to take your call, soon.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

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