How to Never Wait on Hold with Airline Customer Service Again

Travel expert Wendy Perrin shares her pro tips for avoiding endless waits on hold.

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

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. A large number of Chase cards (including Chase Sapphire Preferred), American Express Platinum, and Capital One do not charge foreign-transaction fees.




Gary Leff of View From The Wing taught me about this one last week 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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