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How Never to Wait on Hold with Airline Customer Service Again

by Wendy Perrin | January 3, 2021

While there are many apps and online tools that you can use to stay informed before your flight is canceled, delayed, or changed, sometimes—especially during this season of pandemic stress and winter storms—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.

The major airlines all have overseas locations where staffers speak English—in England, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, for example—and they are 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 snowstorm. Here are some of the major airlines’ international contact numbers; to keep the cost of the call down, use WhatsApp, Skype, or Google Voice.

American Airlines
British Airways
United (and click on Additional Assistance)

Delta has recently eliminated this workaround (if you dial their Singapore call center, you’ll get routed into the main queue), but Gary Leff of View From The Wing let us know about a workaround: Dial 1-855-548-2505 when you have travel within 48 hours. “This is the number that’s printed on the airline’s red ‘Need Help?’ cards and on their ‘Need Help?’ signs at the airport,” he explains. “They’ll only assist with travel needs in the upcoming 48 hours, but it circumvents the waits.”

Let someone else wait on hold.

Gary Leff also taught me about 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, representatives who can solve the problem for you if you simply don’t want to deal with any of it, and a robot that waits on hold so you don’t have to.

Let someone else handle it all. 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 $100.

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 assess foreign-transaction fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.


We’re Here to Help

Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers who are vaccinated. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes.

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1 Comment

  1. Kathy Wood

    I have reached out to Delta several times this past year concerning re-booking flights. I’m a million-miler with them and can call a special number, BUT still faced a long wait time or the need for a call back some time later.

    I have had great luck with Delta through their Facebook page and Facebook messenger! 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.

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