Comforting sounds while “on hold”

You know what I mean about being on hold.  Anyone who has tried to redeem aeroplan points will know that you can pretty much put your phone on speaker and clean every cupboard in your kitchen while you wait.  Sometimes I think the on hold music – or lack of it – shows what the company actually thinks of the person on hold.

Westjet for example will have music playing and then jokes.  It’s amusing and very human and can be entertaining.  Except if you are a travel agent and have to phone quite often then the jokes can get old.

Some airlines I have phoned don’t even have on hold music – just a strange crackling silence interrupted every so often by an announcement that “an agent will be with you shortly”.  And then there is the biggest on hold lie OF ALL TIME…..

“Your call is important to us”

…. so therefore we will keep you on hold for 2 hours.  NOT.

So imagine my surprise the other day when I phoned Regent Seven Seas Cruises Air Deviation department.  Let me first explain.  Regent Seven Seas Cruises is a small luxury cruise line which is totally all inclusive and that means the airfare too.  The flight itinerary is assigned by the cruise line based on their contracts and usually is advised between 90 – 120 days prior to departure.  However if you have a specific airline you like you can do an air deviation for a fee ($175 pp) and for this you phone through to that specific department.  Which I did….

First of all although I did have a bit of a hold I got a living, breathing travel agent who understood about code shared airlines and all that other secret industry stuff.

Secondly when I gave her my request she started working on it right away.  WOW.  How did I know?  I heard her keyboard clacking away while she looked up the flights.  I can’t tell you how comforting it was to hear that sound…. and I was on hold for a long time while she clattered away at her keyboard – occasionally punctuated by mutterings signalling frustration and success while she worked her way through the various airlines’ archaic booking systems.

I thought about it for a while after I put down the phone.  What was the difference between being on hold and listening to breezy bright music and being on hold listening to breathing and keyboard clacking.  The difference was that I knew something was being done – someone was working on my request.  That gave me more comfort that anything else.


By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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