Although you can largely make and manage flight bookings online these days, occasionally the need still arises to contact an airline directly to resolve an issue.

With Qantas, this can be a frustrating experience. There are often long delays in getting phone calls answered (especially if you don’t have elite status), plus the quality of the help you receive can vary a lot depending on the knowledge and experience of the person at the other end.

There are several ways to get in touch with Qantas: via a phone call, online chat, social media DMs and SMS, to name a few. I had to contact Qantas several times recently and, after trying all these channels, by far the best experience was with using the SMS service.

Here’s what happened.

The first issue I needed to resolve was a missing refund of taxes/fees for an award booking I cancelled. The booking was for two passengers but after cancelling it online, I only received the refund for one person. This is a common bug and it’s the second time I’ve encountered it this year.

To try to get it fixed, I called Qantas, received a call back relatively quickly, and was promised it would be sorted out. But a week later, no refund arrived.

So I followed up via online chat, was again assured it would be fixed promptly, but still nothing happened.

Finally, I sent Qantas a frustrated SMS, and when I got a reply I could tell straight away that the person on the other end was much more knowledgeable and experienced than those who responded to my earlier queries. They were able to quickly process the missing refund.

The second problem I had recently was getting a ticket issued for an award booking. Normally an e-ticket should arrive within 24 hours of making the booking. If it doesn’t, you really need to follow up, because there is a risk your ‘hold’ on the seat will be lost.

So I called Qantas, was advised I’d get a call back in about 90 minutes, and finally heard back over three hours (!) later. The call centre representative assured me the ticket would be issued within an hour, but sure enough – no ticket arrived.

I followed up via online chat, but that was a waste of time. The staff member at the other end had trouble understanding what I wanted.

Finally, I turned to SMS, and received a reply relatively quickly. Just like the previous time, the quality of the customer service was much better than via the other channels. The ticket was issued immediately.

I realise that these are only two data points, but based on these experiences, from now on I’ll be trying SMS first.

It really is a convenient way to communicate, plus it looks like the staff responding to SMSs know what they’re doing.

(Incidentally, a family member was able to book an award flight via SMS recently – their credit card details were taken via a ‘Secure Form’ link).

If you want to try the SMS service, the number to text is 0477 QANTAS – that’s 0477 726 827.

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