3 secrets for finding any CEO’s email address

By | July 13th, 2013


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.

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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.

If all else fails, maybe our list of company contacts can help? Here’s how to find Spirit’s CEO.

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 jfloyd17@gmail.com.

  • Raven_Altosk

    If you’re too late checking in, you forfeit the ticket. Don’t expect any help, especially on a craptastic airline like Spirit.

    So…whatever this is, it’s a non-case and I hope the airline tells the traveler to get a watch.

  • MsGravyNotSauce

    Sign up for a free account at Jigsaw.com. It is a contact database that is constantly updated by members and it has virtually every major company listed. You pay for an email address, but they guarantee that it is valid. Or better yet, you earn points by providing or updating contacts and then use your points to obtain contacts.

    Some years ago before Jigsaw was around I had a similar experience and could not reach an executive nor find an email address. In frustration, I sent my email to “allusers@company.com” and it worked… everyone saw it, and you’d be amazed at how quickly I got a response from the CEO.

  • James Orth

    It would help if we knew why she and her husband were late. If it was because they didn’t keep track of time then I agree she should not expect compensation.

  • Alan Gore

    There’s an even better approach than trolling the Internet for a name and number that may be well-hidden, from an overseas airport that may not even have WiFi. Before you fly, find your airline’s Twitter presence and follow it. If a problem occurs at the airport and you get stonewalled by the local staff, just start messaging the airline’s Twitter about th developing situation. If you can get a cell signal you can do this by text even if there is no Internet available.

    Airlines have come to believe that people who use social media are young and have business connections – not the kind of people they can usually just ignore. Because assume you have the knowledge to Net-shame them if necessary, there is a much better chance that you will find your problem being taken seriously.

  • TonyA_says


  • Cam

    Or you could abide with the t&c of your ticket and not need to contact anybody…….

  • TonyA_says
  • LeeAnneClark

    Well….I’m reserving judgment until he posts the actual details of the case. Note that he says the airline “claimed” she was too late. That says to me there’s more to the story. Maybe she really was on time, but the gate agents wanted to leave early so they shut down 20 minutes ahead of schedule? Who knows…I’m just saying that it’s too soon to judge this case since we don’t know the details yet. So hold onto your snark for now…there may be call for it yet, and if it turns out they were just plain late, you have my full approval to let it fly! ;-)

  • Michael__K

    Exactly. Not every airline defines “late checking in” the same way (and I don’t just mean the time limits).

    Most airline contracts use language that says the passenger must “present” him/herself.

    Spirit, like they do with everything else, takes things to a whole other level. You have to have your boarding pass “in hand.” So if you present yourself for check-in on time, but there’s a very long line, Spirit can and does take the stance that this is your problem, not theirs.


  • bayareascott

    “Presenting yourself for check-in on time” is not walking into the building 1 minute before the cut-off time. For most airlines, that means you must have *completed* check-in by the cut-off time, which is why they suggest getting to the airport 90 minutes or more before your departure, so you can complete your check-in in time. Customers must allow for things like lines — both for check-in and for security. Shocking, I know! If you are on a 7:00 pm flight with a 45 minute cut-off, and you arrive at the airport at 6:10 pm and there is a long line to check-in…..guess what? You arrived too late!

  • EdB

    Kind of making some big assumptions there that the OP didn’t abide by the terms. What if they were there before the final board time but the crew wanted to get going early. We don’t have enough information to know what happened here.

  • Michael__K

    Tell it to Carol from New Jersey, who was in the carrier’s line at the 60 minute mark holding a ticket documenting a 30 minute cut off.

  • EdB

    Would you care to elaborate a bit more on that situation? Which line was she in at the 60 minute mark?

  • Michael__K

    see the Time article I linked to

  • The Lewd Ood

    Spirit is notorious for overbooking their flights and booting “latecomers” who were simply the last people to physically show up. I would give this company zero benefit of the doubt in any customer complaint. I’m personally sitting in the terminal at MYR waiting for my 4.5 hr-delayed flight to BOS, which now won’t be touching down ’til 4am. This after my flight from BOS to MYR (originally scheduled for 5:20am this past Wednesday) was delayed 5 hrs, neither flight was weather-delayed, either. Both were because of airline-caused issues.

  • Regina Litman

    Welcome aboard, Josh! I am the unofficial grammarian and spellchecker for this site. I personally do not think it is all right to spell “all right” any way other than I’ve just spelled it here. But I’m not all formal. I don’t believe in the use of the word “differential” when “difference” will do, such as “fare difference”.

  • bayareascott

    I’m just speaking in general. If the facts are EXACTLY as laid out in the article, I would expect the agent to have been able to do more over 5 minutes. But the whole thing really makes my point. No airline says that arriving at a major airport 60 minutes before departure — and needing to check luggage — is enough time. I’ve never seen anything that did not suggest at least 90 minutes. IF Carol from NJ arrived at exactly 60 minutes before departure, she left herself only 15 minutes to wait in line and have an agent finish her check-in transaction. That is an insufficient amount of time. It leaves no margin for error by anyone. Could the airline have done more? Perhaps. But Carol did not really give herself enough time.

  • Hi Regina, as our unofficial grammarian, I have a proposal for you! Please email me at elliottc@gmail.com

  • Michael__K

    Actually among other issues, at the time Spirit sold them the ticket the cut off was 30 minutes. Which they subsequently unilaterally changed to 45 minutes without notice.

    Spirit is famous for overbooking and then using charade tactics to turn the surplus passengers away with no compensation. And they rely on apologists who will always blame the 10% of passengers who “should have known” to allow more time.

    You can find dozens of these cases searching online. Here’s another one:

    Funny how carriers with 10+x the passenger load don’t have chronic reports of this problem.

  • Richard Trilling from London

    As the unofficial grammarian, next time you go to the theatre down on Centre St. in Manhattan, check out the programme and see if the brochure has the right colour on the front page.

  • bayareascott

    I know nothing about Spirit specifically other than what I read here, and I’m not inclined to fly them. But my points about allowing enough time are valid. Apply them to other airlines. I’m not trying to belabor one person or Spirit airlines with my comments.

  • jim6555

    There is one very simple way to prevent problems like this. DON’T BOOK YOUR TRIP ON SPIRIT AIRLINES. Sure, the initial price makes the trip look like a bargain, but by the time you pay all of the hidden carrier fees, the cost is usually about the same or even more than what other airlines charge. From a consumer standpoint, I can’t think of a worse organization to do business with.

  • Michael__K

    I’m usually at the airport 2 to 3 hours ahead of departure. My wife gives me grief for usually being too early and making her get up too early. And even so, some tiny percentage of the time, s**t happens — a traffic disaster, a taxi or shuttle that doesn’t show up — and maybe we “only” arrive 1 hour ahead, or worse. Guess we didn’t allow enough time — we should have planned on getting there 3.5 hours early.

    “He/she/they didn’t allow enough time” is a petty gotcha game, particularly when (a) you have no idea how much time he/she/they allowed and (b) he/she/they still arrived 30 mins before the documented cut-off.

    When NJ Transit rail to EWR has a major service disruption, the more respectable airlines let the latecomers checkin and board and often even hold their flights. And the Mickey Mouse outfits play their gotcha games.

  • bayareascott

    Yes, shit happens. But if one blames the airline for that, then I don’t feel sorry for them. Also, agents at the counter hear every sob story in the book. There are reasons for the cutoff. Sometimes, it is no one’s fault. That’s just life. But in today’s society, everything is always someone else’s fault. That is how most people conduct themselves.

  • Michael__K

    So then respect the cutoff and don’t blame the passengers who made it with “only” 30 minutes to spare for now allowing enough time….

    BTW- the time of day and airport matters too. I’ve arrived at the airport at 3am for a 5:30am flight. And at that hour, there was just 1 super-slow security lane. And they were waiving first class passengers and passengers on even earlier flights ahead in the line. The security line moved *backwards* for the rest of us — at 4:30am there were more people ahead of us in line then there were at 3:30am. Then the morning shift workers finally started showing up and a bunch of lanes opened at 4:45am. I learned that assuming I wasn’t flying first class, it was pointless to get in the security line more than 45 to 50 minutes before this particular flight.

  • Cheryl

    The only problem with the CEO’s email is, he usually has minions to monitor his email and they just forward your email along down the road. I had issues with my SAP account rep a month ago. I emailed the President of SAP as well as the North American VP and they just forwarded my email long to the account rep. Needless to say he was not happy with me.

  • mrbofus

    “3 secrets for finding any CEO’s email address”

    “Using these strategies, I helped Verdi locate the email of a Spirit Airlines manager.”

    If you couldn’t find Spirit’s CEO’s email address using your tips, then your article headline shouldn’t say “any CEO’s”, right? It might have been more effective to have picked an example where your tips were successful for you.

  • Micho Cohen

    Hi Guys, check this http://www.ceosemail.com/

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