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American’s new phone system for AAdvantage members causes a few headaches

American Airlines upgraded its automated phone system for frequent fliers last month which has led some users to complain about long hold times and hangups. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison)
American Airlines upgraded its automated phone system for frequent fliers last month which has led some users to complain about long hold times and hangups. (Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison) Star-Telegram

A new phone system is causing headaches for American Airlines AAdvantage members since it was installed a few weeks ago.

Frustrated users say the interactive voice recognition system has resulted in long hold times, hang-ups and problems getting a customer service agent on the phone.

“I tried getting to the AAdvantage customer service desk, got put on hold for 45 to 53 minutes and ended up at the award travel desk. This is nuts how botched this is,” one user posted Thursday on a FlyerTalk forum.

Another user posted Wednesday that he was repeatedly disconnected.

“Seven straight calls to [executive platinum] desk right now result in a hang-up after stating ‘Just a moment, I’ll get you over to someone who can help you.’ I give up,” the user said.

In an email sent to Executive Platinum AAdvantage members Thursday, the airline acknowledged that it was “speaking in a new voice” and that the system needs some fine-tuning.

“We understand that sometimes you prefer to speak with a person and we’re working on ways to help you reach an agent more quickly. Please keep the feedback coming, we are listening and refining the system based on your direct feedback,” the email said.

In a weekly newsletter to employees, American said it has hired 1,000 new reservations representatives this year, and each is required to have nine to 10 weeks of training before taking their first customer phone call.

Each day, American reservations handles more than 175,000 calls from customers who need help with reservations, tickets, flights and other customer service items, the company said.

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