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Qantas hires 750 staff to fix ‘not acceptable’ call wait times

written by Adam Thorn | April 7, 2022

Qantas’ Mascot HQ. (Brain & Poulter)

Qantas on Thursday admitted its current call wait times are “not acceptable” after an incident where a passenger was placed on hold for eight hours made international news.

In a new statement, the flag carrier said it had hired an extra 750 staff in the last year to manage the phone lines but added it can take up to six weeks to train each up.

Qantas said the root cause of the problem stemmed from a combination of flying returning following COVID and customers confused as to how to spend their accrued flight credits.

“We sincerely apologise to customers who have had to spend so long to speak to someone and we thank them for their patience,” read the statement.

“No airline’s contact centres were designed to be able to manage the record number of calls and complexity of queries for COVID-era travel, particularly when international travel is involved.

“Our call volume has increased from an average of 7,500 calls a day to 14,000 calls a day, with calls on average taking 50 per cent longer to resolve than pre-COVID given the complexity of some itineraries across more than one airline where routes are reopening, and flights are restarting at different times.

“We also see large spikes in calls every time there is a change to travel conditions somewhere in the world, such as the announcement that New Zealand was opening up three months earlier than expected.  Around two-third of calls we receive relate to international travel.


“The call centres are the only part of our business that grew during the pandemic. We’ve already added hundreds of staff to our call centres, and each month we are recruiting and training more people.

“By June this year, we’ll have increased staffing by 200 per cent (an increase of 750 people) within 12 months. It takes six weeks to train new call centre agents.

“We have invested in technology to enable customers to manage their bookings and use flight credits via the website or app. While we understand that many people often want to talk to another person to resolve issues, about 60 per cent of the calls we receive could be resolved online, so we’re providing resources, including a series of ‘how-to’ videos, to help customers see how they can resolve their issues faster online.


“Given the volume and the increased complexity of customer queries, it will take some time for call wait times to normalise, but we’re working every day to improve the experience for our customers.”

It comes after a caller to Sydney’s 2GB radio station said she was on hold for eight hours and 39 minutes and showed the presenter her mobile phone’s call log.

“I took the call to a meeting, I took the call to an eatery,” Katrina said. “It was a two-hour meeting, and we had the music playing in the background the whole time.”

Australian Aviation was reporting long wait times on Qantas’ customer service line all the way back in March 2020.

Comments (6)

  • Vannus


    New hire staff may do an initial six week training course, but the ‘on the job training’ will take another twelve months’.

    Therefore a ‘newbie’ takes 18 months’ to have enough experience to be able to assist in multiple complexities’ of flight & eticket changes’ for customers’.
    The whole process takes TIME, not just the ‘touch of one button’, which customers’ assume is the case.

    This has always been the way for a QANTAS call centre staffer.

    • Doug Green


      “Therefore a ‘newbie’ takes 18 months’”

      How? 6 weeks plus 12 months.

      • Vannus


        Thanks for pointing out my ‘senior moment’, Doug!

        What was meant to be said that after six weeks’ initial training, it still takes ‘newbies’ minimum 6, maximum 12 months’ to be ‘flying solo’ in the job, such is its’ complexities, especially International.

        IATA is the regulator which stipulates the ‘theory’ of all eticket procedures’.
        It’s not decided upon by the actual airline, & as QANTAS is an IATA Member, it must follow those procedures’.

  • Martin


    Been a QFF for thirty years, mostly top tier and calling now is a nightmare!

    Even when you get through to the overseas call centre, all they do is triage you. You then end up on hold again (if the system remains up). Once all said and dusted, tickets still dont get re-issued and points refunded as promised.

    So… we start the whole process again! This are all requests not being able to complete online.

    Good to hear something is being done. Hopefully not in 18 months though. I’ll be taking the train by then.

  • JMac


    Hiring more staff is a bandaid. Root cause of the problem is that the website doesn’t work. I only had to spend 8 hours on hold, over 3 calls, because basic functions, that are supposed to be available online, didn’t work. Every booking we make does not register as paid and is therefore effectively locked.

    Making the website work would divert traffic away from the call centres.

    And they don’t play music the whole time so “Katrina” is not correct. At regular intervals the recording recommends that you use the website which is infinitely more frustrating.

  • JMac


    The root cause of the problem is that the website doesn’t work.

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