While there are many apps and online tools that you can use to get help when your flight is canceled, delayed, or changed, sometimes you just really need to talk to a live person at your airline. Of course, being put on hold forever doesn’t help anyone (you or the customer-service rep you’re about to unleash your frustration on), so here are a couple of tricks to help you avoid endless waits on hold.
Call the airline’s customer-service office in a different country.
Major airlines have overseas locations where staffers speak English—in the U.K., Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, for example—and they are typically just as able to help you as their U.S.-based counterparts, as long as their office is open (not all call centers are open 24 hours) and not dealing with a local weather event. So if you need to speak with someone at, say, American Airlines, try calling one of their worldwide phone numbers. To keep the cost of the call down, use WhatsApp, Skype, or Google Voice.
Let someone else wait on hold.
Gary Leff, the airline expert who writes View From The Wing and founded point.me, taught me about GetHuman.com a few years ago when Snowmageddon hit. This site offers many sanity-saving aids, including: phone numbers (with shortcuts) to many companies, step-by-step guides on how to solve certain problems, and representatives who can solve the problem for you if you simply don’t want to deal with any of it.
Turn to social media
During an Antarctica cruise last year, WendyPerrin.com contributing editor Carolyn Spencer Brown learned that weather would delay her ship’s return to port. On Twitter (now X), she sent a direct message to American Airlines, which was able to quickly rebook her flight home. Reader Kathy Wood tells us she’s also had good experiences using social media to make last-minute flight changes. “I have had great luck with Delta through their Facebook page and Facebook messenger,” she tells us. “I think it does help to be polite in your post and email… not belligerent. I am really impressed with how quick and efficient this has been and how helpful the reps have been.”
Let someone else handle it all.
CrankyConcierge.com offers urgent air-travel assistance, such as rerouting when your flight is cancelled or delayed. Run by longtime airline-industry expert Brett Snyder, the company can also plan your flights from the get-go. Emergency help starts at $175.
Something to keep in mind
When you give your credit card to a customer-service agent based in another country, your card may assess a foreign-transaction fee. So use a card that does not charge foreign-transaction fees.
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