Revealed: the best (and worst) times to call Qantas and Virgin

The best strategy for getting through to your airline's call centre: hit the phones early, and avoid Mondays.

By David Flynn, October 14 2021
Revealed: the best (and worst) times to call Qantas and Virgin

Across the 18 months of the pandemic, the phones at airlines have been running hot – indeed, at times close to meltdown – as frantic and often frustrated travellers called regarding cancelled flights or chasing promised refunds.

Each new round of lockdowns and border closures only added to the pressure already in place from scrubbed overseas flights, and epic 'on hold' times of several hours have been reported.

So is there a best time of day to call your airline, in order to minimise that wait – and a best day of the week, for that matter?

Additionally, when should you avoid calling the customer support line?

Australian consumer group Choice recently surveyed the call waiting times for both Qantas and Virgin Australia, with staff making eight calls a day at designated times across a nine-day period in mid-August.

The take-out: it's all about getting in ahead of the crowd.

The earlier in the morning you can call, the better your chance of beating the rush.

Choice' staff hit the phones at 9am, and reported that this saw the average wait timr for Qantas standing at just six minutes – okay, that's still six minutes of repetitively-looped 'on hold' music – "while the average wait times at noon and 5:00pm were 52 and 66 minutes, respectively."

Obviously, you don't have to wait until 9am. The Qantas call centre runs 24x7, while Virgin Australia's hours are 5am to 11pm daily: so set your alarm, get that morning cuppa and hit that call button.

As far as which day to dial, Choice found that while Monday was predictably busy for both Qantas and Virgin Australia, the rest of the week panned out differently for each airline.

For Qantas, Choice noted a marked drop in call waiting times on Tuesday, along with Saturday and Sunday.

Virgin Australia's call waiting curve peaked on Monday and steadily declined with each day of the

Choice's research appears to have used the standard public support lines, rather than the premium services available to top-tier frequent flyers, or even call systems which can prioritise a caller's position in the queue based on their status tier.

Over 50% of Executive Traveller readers enjoy Gold or higher airline status, and those who are Qantas Platinum One frequent flyers often note quite snappy response times from the VIP service team even during the pandemic.

Executive Traveller readers: what's your experience when it comes to the best times to call Qantas and Virgin Australia?

Definitely make use of the Qantas call centre being open 24 hours a day. Unless it's very urgent I ring them around 6-7am, always get through pretty quickly, at least as a Platinum.

14 Oct 2021

Total posts 1

What I want to know is why is Virgin able to refund a reward booking within a couple of days, but it will take months for Qantas to do the same? Are they making any effort to improve their systems or whatever else is the cause of this huge delay?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 205

I think most callers would not expect call centres to be open on weekends, or 24/7 throughout the week.  Or, if they knew of the extended hours, would assume their call would (correctly?) end up in an overseas call centre, where you can never be sure the information you get is correct.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 668

You would think that with all the staff that QF stood down, it would be more practical to retain sufficient staff to maintain an acceptable 'wait' time? QF seems very accomplished at measuring their NPR customer service metrics ~ and wait times in excess of 15 minutes are unacceptable to most people.

Personally, if I find I am in a phone queue hell and the wait time is more than 12-15 minutes, I hang up. And then, I re-evaluate whether that company deserves my business. It is the sole reason that I absolutely refuse to have anything to do with Telstra and similar organisations. If you can't answer my call in 50 or 60 minutes, especially when you use a call-centre, then you are either incompetent or you are not interested in your customer's issues. 

My other pet peeve is companies that use voice-actuated AI systems that don't contain a majority of customer options.

24 Dec 2013

Total posts 100

Too bad I have status with Qantas which somewhat forces me to fly with them which is a shame because Virgin seems to provide better customer service.

25 Jun 2021

Total posts 17

I tend to call 11/12 Midnight maybe 45 mins wait

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 336

Early morning or 10-11pm for me, never much of a wait. I think most people don't realise the Qantas call centre runs 24x7!

16 Feb 2017

Total posts 21

Waited over a n hour this week when calling Qantas at 8.30am :(

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 370

not sure.Any problems in regards to bookings I deal with the agency in person for Virgin.I can't speak for Qantas but sadly anything there sadly requires an airport visit these days.I am in Adelaide and with no Salisbury or Burnside Village or City offices It makes life a lot harder.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2020

Total posts 6

As a former manager of several national contact centres, I've seen countless graphs like those - indeed I had them generated daily, weekly, monthly, etc.  I had to look really hard at the graphs though, because they looked 'about right' for what I was used to - which meant they were too good to be true for our airlines.

We always measured wait time in seconds - the unit of measurement doesn't appear on these graphs, they just say 'Time on hold'.  As always, the devil's in the detail - the article says minutes ... shameful :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 46

On the 23/9 at 4.48pm I called Qantas as I was trying to book  classic reward flight that was available but when I got to the final part where it tells you how much the taxes are I got a message that read something like "we can't find a fare for your journey" so I called them and as quoted a wait time of between 2 and 3 hours but was offered an option where they would call me back when I would have reached the top of the que which they did just over 2 hours later and I got my booking done.

Fast forward over a week to the 1/10 and while I had been issued a ticket via email and been able to select my seats on the Qantas and JAL flights, the points had not been deducted from my account or the charge for the taxes taken from my credit card or a hold put on the funds. 

So at 6.15pm on the 1/10 I called and got the same message the wait time was over 2 hours but no option to call me back so I waited just on 6 1/2 hours for the call to be answered which it was around 12.10am on the 2/10 and got the problem sorted despite having to kind of argue the point that the points and charge hadn't been taken and I could see both accounts live and was assured that there was no way the ticket could be issued without the charge being processed and approved and the points being deducted. 

After a couple of can I put you on hold periods while they checked they finally conceded that the points hadn't been taken or the charge processed and that they would be done in the next 24 hours which they were.

Luckily just a few minutes after I phoned at 6.15pm we had a blackout on the Gold Coast which lasted the best part of 3 hours, so I didn't have anything else I could really do for the first 3 hours.

Guess I picked the wrong time to call.


01 Mar 2012

Total posts 2

wish there was a way to make their customer needs  more of a priority, rather than their bottom line.

 wait times like these are unacceptable hopefully the choice will give them a kick in the bun!!!!


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