Q. I believe Virgin America is on a slippery slope right now. Since switching their reservations system, service has been, awful. It's been some time now since the switch and yet the problems are apparently not resolving. My personal experience: It took me three tries to book a one-way reward flight, including intervention by customer service when the website hung up at "pending". The first call I made I had to abandon 20 minutes into waiting, the second attempt was met with an automated "we're sorry but we can't accept your call because we're so busy; please try later," and the third reached a person after roughly 30 minutes. What's going on here?

A. Virgin America acknowledges that their reservation system has had some messy problems and they're working on it. Hopefully it'll be fixed by the time you read this. But if not, or even if it is fixed, unless you're booking award travel, you might consider calling a travel agent next time--Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity or a local agency. Hold time, most likely, will be far less. Agents can ticket flights, change flights, rebook you if there's a cancelation or delay, and assign seats. Although many people now prefer booking directly with the airlines, real live travel agents have survived, in the age of the Internet, for a reason.

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