Skip the Wait: Tricks for Getting through to Airline Customer Service

Wendy Perrin, February 20, 2015
Fares from Washington DC:

    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 crazy winter storm season—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. And remember: giving your credit card to a customer-service agent based in another country may result in a foreign-transaction fee. A large number of Chase cards (including Chase Sapphire Preferred), American Express Platinum, and Capital One do not charge foreign-transaction fees.

    Below are some of the major airlines’ international contact numbers; to keep the cost of the call down, use Skype or Google Voice.

    American Airlines

    British Airways






    Gary Leff of View From The Wing taught me about when Snowmageddon hit. “You don’t talk to the airline faster,” says Gary, “but you don’t wait on hold: The website sets it up so that you get a call back when it’s your turn.” Brilliant.

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