As we start to come out of lockdown, one of the big problems in the travel industry is finding people to work after all of the layoffs.

This is especially true with waitstaff in restaurants, housekeepers in hotels and reservations agents for some airlines. There have been reports of customers being placed on hold for several hours and I believe it. I tried calling American Airlines (AA) at midnight the other day using an elite phone line reserved for their top fliers and I had a hold time or callback option of over an hour. That’s crazy, right? Right.

I foolishly waited until the last minute to contact American to add my daughter as a lap child. I had bought really cheap business class fares using miles back in September for every month starting in April, hoping we would be out of the pandemic. I thought I’d bought four seats but I’d only booked three, which isn’t great for a couple reasons including the fact that it’s not very comfortable for my wife. But I figured baby Olivia wouldn’t sit in her own seat anyway so it was a waste of miles.

Fortunately, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve so here’s how I got through without waiting.

1. Twitter is by far your best resource in these matters and that couldn’t be more true than with AA as they have a very good and large communications team. I sent them a DM asking if they could add Olivia as a lap child and they replied within 20 minutes that it was all done (see screenshot below). The second time around, they were even quicker.


I also did the same thing last week with Travelocity when I booked a package deal and had to cancel. I quickly learned that the customer service on their website and call center is a joke. But their Twitter team is solid, as they took care of my request, though not nearly as quickly as American.

2. If Twitter had failed, my second option was to take my own advice and give the airline’s international call center a ring. Here’s how.

3. A tip I just learned about while reading the news yesterday came via David Slotnick of The Points Guy. He says: “Try an airline’s Spanish-language line.” I’ve never tried it but it seems reasonable, especially if you speak Spanish but I’m sure that’s not a prerequisite.

So, my advice is to try to do everything online and if you can’t, then don’t wait until the last minute to make any changes. This is also a good reason to book through a good travel agent because they will do the dirty work for you. If not, try the tips above.

 

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6 Comments On "How To Reach an Airline's Reservations Agent Without Waiting"
  1. Ram Suntha|

    This is not a comment but a request.
    We are late in our life and require business class travel to accommodate our needs. We live in the Seattle area. Can you suggest a travel agent who specializes in business class travel internationally?

    Much obliged.

  2. Michael Reynolds|

    Johnny, Delta 800 reservation number said there would be a 6 hour hold on my first call. No call back option mentioned that I remember. No way I’m holding for six hours. A second 800 Delta reservation call I made said there would be a 2 hour hold with no call back option so time to take a chance. Gave up holding at 3 hours. Then I went to the Tulsa Delta airport counter at noon. No one was behind Delta ticket counter and all Delta computer screens behind the ticket counter were turned off. No more time wasting with Delta. Moving on.

  3. Linda Conrath|

    I called Delta too a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday night. The recording said my wait time would be 2 hours and 11 minutes. Fortunately, my agent at the cruise line (through whom I booked my flights) was able to help me the following day.

  4. Judith L|

    American cancelled the first leg of my trip to France, with no email warning. I called and waited on hold almost two hours. Hung up. Called back 11 am next day and it said I would get a callback “in more than four hours.” The callback came in at 13.5 hours! And I was left on hold another half hour! However, they did fix the problem.

  5. Jer|

    I tried reaching Delta to get advanced seat reservations. The call center said they would call me back within 4 1/2 hours. Approximately 6 hours later I received a call while I was talking to my daughter. Needless to say I missed the call. I called back at 11:45 PM and their recording said there would be a 2 hour wait. ???

  6. dianne autenzio|

    after many long waits with airlines on phone I found the airfare I wanted and had a travel agent book it much easier and a lot quicker

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