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.
Let someone else wait on hold.
Gary Leff of View From The Wing 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, 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. “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.” LucyPhone is another virtual queuing service that has recently arrived on the scene; you can use the mobile-friendly site or one of their apps to dial a company and then get a call back when a real person finally picks up.
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. A large number of Chase cards (including Chase Sapphire Preferred), American Express Platinum, and Capital One do not charge foreign-transaction fees.