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 snowstorm. 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.
Gary Leff, the airline expert who writes View From The Wing and founded Book Your Award, and who put me onto that tip years ago, points out that Delta Airlines has eliminated the overseas-office solution (if you dial their Singapore call center, you’ll get routed into the main queue). But Gary has 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 also 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. Its crown jewel is a free, automated callback service that gives you an estimate of the current hold duration, sits on hold for you, and calls you back and connects you when a representative answers. Just search the database for your airline to get started.
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.
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.