Who are you #OnHoldWith? The Top On-Hold Offenders in the Airline Industry

The Top On-Hold Offenders in the Airline IndustryAs the weather warms up in the West and many take off for their summer holidays, customers are increasingly dealing with big-brand companies in the business of travel: Airlines. Modern airline customer service (CS) is a far cry from the days when Don Draper-like marketers were designing prime service experiences for anyone who could afford to climb aboard (as marketed in the below 1954 ad for American Airlines).

This month, some of the top global airlines have been criticized on social media for their insufferably poor customer service, including established companies like American Airlines, British Airways, Norwegian Airlines, Aer Lingus, Thomas Cook, Lufthansa, and Air Canada. The hold times, lack of response, poor multi-channel infrastructure, and even poor in-cabin experiences have now conflated bad CS with the airline industry, so much so that it has become something The Onion has parodied many times, including here, here, and here.

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The Top On-Hold Offenders in the Airline Industry

But customers who experience bad CS at any moment in their airline journey have discovered a very loud, very public, very useful tool in spilling the dirt on bad airline CS: Twitter. And luckily, for everyone involved, we have been on top of monitoring it all.

Powered by Fonolo, OnHoldWith.com is a community-driven, Fonolo-powered website that aims to end hold-times for good. The data-gathering hub does this by pulling all social mentions of customers experiencing long hold times, as well as their visceral, off-the-cuff, and sometimes hilarious repartee. As much as these make for an entertaining read, they offer a lesson for contemporary businesses: Be mindful of social media as a new customer service channel, and have social media agents on hand to monitor burns against your brand. More and more, social media is a place where the customer feels they have a voice, but when being put on hold they have none.


Among the many Tweets we read, some trends emerged:

  • No customer wants to be put on hold,
  • When put on hold for so long, customers begin to think “They Don’t C-Air About Us”,
  • Most would prefer a call-back option, and
  • If you still have a hold time problem, do your customers a solid and play decent music.

Read on as we highlight some of the top hold-time offenders for June, featuring companies which span the globe. Through these candid, sometimes amusing, social media shout-outs, companies can learn a lot about how to get their contact centers to rise up to any customer challenge.

Air Canada

It looks like Air Canada provides a memorable customer experience, but unfortunately that experience includes long hold times and a faulty omni-channel network:

Frontier Airlines

They may be good at taking off from the runway, but their hold times could potentially run them into the ground:


Lufthansa’s on-hold service makes its customers consider their time on this earth:

Thomas Cook

If you’re forced to put your customers on hold, do them a favour and give them the gift of easy listening. Bad hold music is evidently nightmarish for some:

Aer Lingus

Thomas Cook customers aren’t alone. For Aer Lingus, it’s a widely held opinion that its hold music is something to shake a penny whistle at:

British Airways

From BA, we can learn an important industry tip: If you want to boost your abandon rates and get rid of pesky customers, just keep putting everybody on hold …


… and draining their bank accounts:


But this one BS customer does make a great point:


United Airlines

It’s not all fun and jokes. The reality is, making hard-working people wait on the line is taking precious minutes off their lives and stealing it away from quality time with their loved ones. It’s no way to treat a customer who invests in your brand:

American Airlines

Take your customers on amazing journeys, ones that look absolutely nothing like this:




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