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How to Reach Airline Customer Service Fast During the Holiday Travel Season

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With the holiday travel season kicking off, domestic travel is expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels. In fact, this year's Thanksgiving travel period is supposed to be the busiest in 18 years, according to Airlines for America, a trade group that represents the major U.S. airlines.

Don't Rely on Social Media

Though you may have reverted to X, formerly known as Twitter, direct messages to reach airlines in the past, some airlines, including Air France and KLM, have recently decided to eliminate customer service assistance via the social media platform, instead directing customers to other avenues. Imposter accounts posing as airlines have also increasingly cropped up on the platform, eager to steal travelers' personal information or money. Although you can still reach out to some airlines via X, this may be the time to brush up on how to quickly get through to an airline customer service agent to get your derailed trip back on track. If you do decide to use X to reach out to an airline, make sure the account is verified — all the major U.S. airlines have a gold check on their X accounts.

Bypassing Automated Phone Menus

If you don't want to use X, here are some ways to bypass the labyrinth of automated phone menus and reach an actual human to resolve your issue.

When asked to select a number for a given option based on the specific request you're calling about, trying to skip these automated menus by saying "agent" (or any other response) can make your call longer. Instead, slowly and clearly say a general sentence about why you're calling so you can be placed in the proper queue.

If you tell the automated system that you already have a reservation, you'll sometimes end up at a customer service representative faster than had you called to make a new reservation.

Be Respectful and Patient

Although you're likely frustrated if you're attempting to reach customer service, remember that the phone agent with whom you're speaking likely was not responsible for delaying your flight or the hold time to get through. Imagine yourself on the other side of the phone fielding dozens of calls like yours when a big delay is ravaging the calculated plans of hundreds of irate travelers. Most of the people calling airline customer service aren't singing the praises of the airline. However, maintaining a level head and being respectful can make a difference in resolving your situation.

Prepare in Advance

You don't want to be approaching the end of a complicated story only to either lose the call or have a phone agent miss the majority of what you're saying. When possible, make sure your connection is solid and your phone battery is charged before calling customer service. Being a member of an airline's loyalty program can only help to reach an agent faster. This doesn't apply across the board, but entering (or speaking) your number certainly doesn't hurt if given the chance. Sometimes, those with higher tier status even have a separate phone line to use, so look on your membership card if you have one.

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Reach International Airlines Faster

If you're trying to get in touch with an international airline, consider calling its home phone line. For example, try calling the French line for Air France or the German line for Lufthansa. Oftentimes, these call centers have an English option and may get you in touch faster than using a U.S. phone number, which may have fewer staff members. Another pro tip: Call these numbers via Skype to avoid international phone charges if that's an issue.

Customer Service Numbers for Major U.S. Airlines

Next, let's review each major U.S. carrier and how to reach a phone agent the quickest. Bookmark this page, as it's an easy one-stop shop for customer service numbers.

American Airlines

Best approach: Live chat with AA online or via mobile app
Alternate approach/phone number: 800-882-8880

Alaska Airlines

Best approach: Text "ALASKA" to 82008 or online chat
Alternate approach/phone number: 800-654-5669

Delta Air Lines

Best approach: Live chat via the mobile app
Alternate approach/phone number: 800-323-2323

JetBlue Airways

Best approach/phone number: 800-538-2583
Alternate option: Online chat

Southwest Airlines

Best approach/phone number: 800-435-9792
Alternate option: Live chat via the Southwest app

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United Airlines

Best approach/phone number: 800-421-4655
Alternate option: Live chat via the United app

Don't Want to Wait on Hold?

This app is helpful in a variety of ways far beyond travel, but it does have a "jump the phone queue and never wait on hold again" feature where the app will direct your request to the right airline and forward the call to you after waiting on hold.

Calling Foreign Call Centers

As previously mentioned, dialing a foreign call center is another strategy for reaching agents in a more reasonable amount of time. This requires an app such as Skype, Talkatone, Viber or Google Voice to make the calls affordable. Common call center numbers that advanced travelers use to get help include Singapore (+65 6823