Verdi Kostanjsek was stuck.
She’d tried to check in for a recent Spirit Airlines flight from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to San Diego, and wasn’t allowed on the plane because the airline claimed she was too late. Kostanjsek and her husband had to pay another airline $1,500 to fly home.
Her emails to Spirit’s customer service department were being met with form responses. Verdi wanted to escalate her issue to Spirit’s CEO, and needed our help finding the email.
Here are a few strategies I’ve used to locate those elusive corporate executive emails.
Search the Web
You can use any search engine to do this. Just type in the company name and the letters “CEO”, “Management Team”, or “President”. Once you find out who the person is, use their name in the next search for the email address. Use different words combined with the name to locate the information. For example: contact, or contact information, email, or email address.
Look under rocks
Sometimes these email addresses are hidden away. I’ve seen them posted on internal documents, like conference materials, club rosters, or corporate presentations. Click on results that may not be a website, because sometimes these files might be kept in PDF format, Microsoft Word, or other document layouts. I’ve also seen them posted on blogs, personal websites, and social media outlets such as LinkedIn. You could even try calling the company directly, and asking the assistant or secretary what the email address is. Don’t be too selective when doing this type of research; persistence will pay off.
Make an educated guess
If you are able to locate the email of someone at the company other than the CEO, experience tells me that usually the executives of that company will have the same email convention. For example, if Jsmith@company.com is listed as a salesman, you can make a guess that the CEO’s email will be his first initial and then last name followed by the company name. I’ve noticed this email format is common for most hospitals and colleges. Another common format is John.Smith@company.com. I’ve seen this format commonly used in the airline industry. For example, Spirit Airlines uses that convention for its emails. You can even try running the email through Verify Email site, which is a free service, to check if an email is active or not.
Using these strategies, I helped Verdi locate the email of a Spirit Airlines manager. The next step is sending the communication and hoping that she actually gets a response. I’ll have more on how to do that in my next column.
Josh Floyd is the managing editor of consumer advocacy at elliott.org . This is his debut column. You can reach him at .