The best and worst times to call Qantas, Virgin Australia

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

By David Flynn, January 19 2022
The best and worst times to call Qantas, Virgin Australia

Had trouble getting through to the Qantas or Virgin Australia to change or cancel your flight booking, or chase a refund? You're not alone.

Frustrated flyers have flooded Facebook and Twitter to share reports of epic 'on hold' times of several hours waiting for their call to be picked up.

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 has 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.

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 week, albeit with a wee pickup on Sunday.

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 215

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 678

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 97

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.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 624

The kudos I can give Virgin's call centre is that, over the last 10-12 years, I've had success roughly 2 times in 3 when calling to ask for help/resolution on something I had no entitlement to receive.  And I'm no 'silver tongue', I get straight to the point of what's troubling me (in no uncertain terms), but I do it politely and ask whether there's anything that can be done about it.   

Remember the massive dust storm in Sydney in 2009-2010?  Departing flights cancelled, no travel insurance.  Virgin refunded my accommodation, breakfast and cab fares (as they said they'd do if I kept receipts).  And the Hilton was a pleasant retreat that night.

25 Jun 2021

Total posts 26

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

10 Apr 2022

Total posts 1

Hi Juddy! What time zone are you in? Are you meaning 11pm/midnight Australian time?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 393

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 22

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

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 452

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 10

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 55

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!!!!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jun 2021

Total posts 3

I hold Gold status for both QF and VA. In recent months (as recent as last week) I’ve had to contact both airlines regarding upcoming bookings (both paid and reward seats, domestic and international). 

I have nothing but praise for VA. My calls are connected straight to their Premium line and are answered within a few minutes by very helpful staff. 

QF on the other hand… it has been confirmed on every call that their Premium line no longer exists and Gold FFs join the same queue as everyone else. Their call centres are based in the Philippines and answered by staff that seem to read only off a script and have very limited capabilities of actually being able to answer the query. The response each time: “I will escalate this for you.” This is after being on hold for 60-90 minutes. Qantas customer service is nothing but disgraceful and I can’t see it improving anytime soon. I recall once upon a time the Qantas Premium call centre being based in Australia and being extremely helpful and efficient….

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 470

Qantas has four call centres: Hobart, Auckland, Manila, Cape Town. Which one you get routed to depends on the time you call and your FF status.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 390

The very fact that this article even exists is a testament to how woeful the “contact” centres really are, or more how they are managed. What organisation in their right mind makes it deliberately excruciating for their customers to speak to them? Isn’t speaking to your customers something an organisation prioritises or am I just nostalgic from the telephone age?

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Mar 2011

Total posts 9

Put this to the test today and called Qantas at 7am...1 hour and 30 min wait time to make a change that took 2 mins.  Unfortunately could not manage online as booking keeps saying Access Denied which they can't seem to sort.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2022

Total posts 1

This has escalated greatly since February reopening and such. I spent four hours on hold (USA Central Time 7pm-11pm Friday) and then an hour trying to rebook a COVID flight credit (which I suddenly couldn't do myself online anymore).  After it was finally all "done", I was told it was being sent to e-ticketing (and I have a hold for the price difference on my credit card), BUT the weekend+Monday later and I still haven't received email confirmation that it's done. Sadly I will probably have to call back. Save me!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Apr 2022

Total posts 1

General speaking passengers book the flight times (and day) that best suit them. (The customer)

Forward thinking passengers choose connecting flights with at least the Qantas published “minimum connection time”.

Then Qantas Airways in their wisdom reschedule one or more of the flights for undisclosed “operational reasons”.

On a number of occasions Qantas Airways have ignored their published “minimum connection time” when rescheduling customers on alternative flights.

The process is Qantas send an email “offer” accept the offer online or call Qantas.

No outbound telephone calls. No ability to change the offer online. No dedicated communication channel for customers affected by Qantas initiated changes.

So I conclude the Qantas overrun callcentres are Qantas’s own making.

If Qantas stuck to its schedules it would not be driving customers to call their callcentres.

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