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Qantas leaves travel agent fuming after four-hour wait to speak to airline

David Van der Meer of Helloworld Travel South Perth says he's fed up with Qantas' customer service.

A fed-up travel agent has expressed his dismay at Qantas after claiming he spent four hours on hold waiting to speak to a representative of the airline.

Travel agent David Van der Meer said he was attempting to resolve an issue for a client last week when he was faced with the long wait time. He claims dealing with the airline on their dedicated Qantas Agency Connect phone number, is the "bane" of his life.

Left: A selfie of travel Agent David Van der Meer and on the right he shared an image of his telephone with a 3 hour 32 minute hold time.
Travel Agent David Van der Meer shared the hold time on a call to Qantas. Source: Tiktok

The Perth travel agent's gripe comes as the company recently pledged $80 million to improve customer service. CEO Vanessa Hudson also recently revealed she has a board above her desk showing customer wait times in call centres.

“Started using Qantas again because I saw the CEO on the news the other day saying how much their call wait times have improved, but they’ve had a major schedule change,” Van der Meer shared in a video posted to Tiktok, adding “Look how long I’ve been on hold for.” The camera then pans to a phone with a hold time of 3 hours and 32 minutes showing on the screen.

‘I’m gonna hang up, they can get stuffed,” Van der Meer says in the video but admitted to Yahoo he held on for another half an hour before a representative finally answered the phone.

Yahoo understands that the Agency Connect line was impacted by pilot industrial action in Perth on the day Van der Meer called. It's understood Qantas did answer at one point, but Van der Meer was on another line — something the agent disputes. It's not clear how far into the call Qantas answered. When he finally did get through, the enquiry was resolved in five minutes.

Meanwhile, it's understood that on Qantas's customer helpline, the wait to speak to a representative is up to half an hour, with the average hold time of two to three minutes.

Travel agent 'dreads' calling Qantas

Van der Meer, who has been running Helloworld Travel South Perth agency since 2007, told Yahoo News Australia that the airline has been “horrible” to deal with in the last 10 years.

“Mostly we can fix things online ourselves but occasionally when their system is down we have to call them, but the minute we call them I have that feeling of dread knowing I’m going to be on hold for hours upon hours.

“I can call any other airline and they’ll pick up within 20 minutes.

"We know what to do to get things resolved. When they did pick up I had to explain to her her job and rectify what she was telling me. It’s a joke.”

Qantas customer service 'not right' as airline delivers $1b profit

While Van der Meer managed to resolve the client’s issue with Qantas, the experience has left him frustrated.

“Being in the industry, it’s not right,” he said. “[Qantas] have got to understand the frustrations of agents and customers. The customers are waiting for us to get back to them.”

Last month, Qantas revealed it has delivered a $1.25b half-year profit under the reins of its new CEO Vanessa Hudson with the airline committing to putting the customer front and centre once more.

Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson standing in the foreground with a Qantas airplane behind her.
Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson has come under fire for the airline's customer service record. Source: Getty

Hudson said Qantas was continuing to work on making improvements based on the feedback the company had received from its customer base. “Airfares have come down but we’re also investing in our customers. There’s a lot of work happening to lift our service levels and the early signs are really positive.

“Our customer satisfaction scores have bounced back strongly since December, and we have more service and product improvements in the pipeline.”

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