How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (2024)

There's no denying that travel demand has roared back with a vengeance over the past year. The Transportation Security Administration had its busiest summer ever in 2023, followed soon after by a record-setting holiday travel season. Nov. 26, 2023, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, set a single-day record with 2.9 million passengers screened by the TSA.

Any time you fly, you are also faced with the possibility of delays or cancellations. Last year, on average, about one in five flights were delayed in the U.S., and between 1% and 2% were canceled.

If you are affected by delays and cancellations, you should know the best practices for reaching airline customer service should the need arise. And if you need to reach an agent quickly, you don't want to get stuck in an endless loop of hold music.

You may have reverted to X, formerly known as Twitter, direct messages to reach airlines in the past. However, some airlines โ€” including Air France and KLM โ€” have recently decided to eliminate customer service assistance via the social media platform, instead directing customers to other avenues. If you decide to use X to reach out to an airline, ensure the account is verified โ€” all the major U.S. airlines have a gold check on their X accounts.

Additionally, some scammers will publish fake airline customer service phone numbers online in an attempt to obtain your credit card or flight information.

If you have upcoming travel, now is the time to brush up on bypassing the labyrinth of automated phone menus and reach an actual human to resolve your issue.

General tips for reaching airline customer service

While each system is a bit different, here are some general tips to get help from the airline faster.

Automated phone systems are more prevalent than ever

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.

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (1)

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When in doubt, say 'existing reservation'

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

Politeness and kindness go a long way

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.

Try to avoid calling on the go

You don't want to be approaching the end of a complicated story only to lose the call or have a phone agent miss most of what you're saying. Make sure your connection is solid and your phone battery is charged before calling customer service.

Enter your frequent flyer number if prompted

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.

Try calling the local phone number

If you're trying to contact 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.

How to avoid airline customer service scams

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (2)

The easiest way to avoid airline customer service scams is to follow the advice in this article. These phone numbers are the official numbers found on each airline's website. The way that scammers try to trick you is by publishing fake customer service numbers in Google search results. Never Google the number for an airline and call the first one you see. Visit the airline's official website (or call the customer service number on the back of your card if you have an airline credit card) to ensure you are calling a legitimate number.

How to contact airline customer service

Next, let's review each major U.S. carrier and how to reach a phone agent quickly. 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 for AAdvantage members or 800-433-7300 if you do not have an AAdvantage account

If you've called the system before, AA will recognize your number and ask you directly what your call is about. If not, say your AAdvantage number slowly and clearly to start the call.

After being greeted, say "reservation," then "existing reservation," and then "travel changes." You'll be prompted to give a confirmation number. If you don't have one, say, "I don't have it." You'll then be asked if all flights are in the U.S. After this, you're in the queue to be transferred to an agent.

American is great about giving you an idea of how long your hold time is when it asks if you'd prefer to be called back. If it will still be a long hold, enter your phone number, and an agent will return your call, usually right in the estimated window.

Alternatively, you can live chat with AA via the mobile app or the website. If you're on the computer, head to the contact page and find the chat icon in the bottom right corner.

This app also has an automated system, but we've found that if you choose one of the prompted topics, it will spit out a generic answer. Selecting "I still need help" will put you in the queue for a live agent.

I recently tested the wait times for the chat feature and a phone call to inquire about a flight that AA recently changed without explanation. Here's what I got:

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (3)

  • AA chat: No wait
  • Phone: Rather than wait on hold, I opted for the callback option, which said I would receive a call within 16-20 minutes. They called me back in 12 minutes.

The one caution to using the app is that the agents can't take payment information. Depending on what you need, the phone may be your only option.

Alaska Airlines

Best approach: Text "ALASKA" to 82008 or online chat

Alternate approach/phone number: 800-654-5669

When you call, an automated bot will answer the phone. Say, "Change my reservation." You'll then be asked for your confirmation number. You can say, "I don't have it," and you'll be put in line to talk to an agent.

Another option is to text "ALASKA" to 82008, and an agent can help you by messaging or chatting Alaska via its contact page. You'll have to enter your name and Alaska Airlines number when chatting online. You'll immediately be put in the queue for an agent.

I tested all three options for their current wait times:

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (4)

  • By phone: Two minutes
  • By text: One minute
  • By online chat: One minute

For me, the phone option was the slowest in this test, but just by a minute. So, in this case, all offered very prompt help.

Delta Air Lines

Best approach: Live chat via the mobile app

Alternate approach/phone number: 800-323-2323 for Delta SkyMiles members, 800-221-1212 if you do not have an account

When calling, say "existing reservation." If you've called the number before, it will automatically recognize your account. If not, key in your SkyMiles number. You'll be put in line to speak to an agent by not selecting any of the automated prompts. You'll be given the option to receive a callback instead of waiting on hold.

Alternately, if you head to the Delta app, scroll to the "Contact us" option under "More" on the bottom right corner of the app screen. You can message Delta for quick text communication. You can chat with Delta from the help center page on their website, too.

Here's another quick wait time comparison:

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (5)

  • Text conversation: Less than a minute
  • Phone: The wait time given was eight minutes, but I waited.

Both interactions were relatively short, but I would personally recommend the app. TPG editor Clint Henderson was connected to a live agent within three and a half minutes when calling in by phone, but wait times can vary widely.


Best approach/phone number: 800-538-2583

Alternate option: Online chat

On the phone, select option two for reservations and hit two again to signal an existing reservation. You'll automatically be put in a queue and given an estimated wait time.

You can also chat on a mobile device or your desktop browser. Head to the JetBlue "Contact Us" page and scroll to where you see "Chat with us." From there, I selected "Booking questions" and "Fare Types" and then clicked "I still need help." The app quoted me an estimated 10-minute wait time.

When I called the JetBlue phone line, I was quoted a two-minute wait time for a customer service agent.

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (6)

  • By chat: Five minutes
  • By phone: Eight minutes

In this case, I'd probably opt for the phone, though the results may vary when it comes time for you to call in.

Southwest Airlines

Best approach/phone number: 800-435-9792

Alternate option: Live chat via the Southwest app

Call the reservation number listed above, and then select option two, followed by option one or two for domestic and Puerto Rico or international travel. You'll be transferred to an agent or given an estimated hold time.

Alternatively, you can chat via the Southwest app. However, know that the automated chat will not immediately prompt you to speak with a live agent. I entered "agent" into the chat, then chose the "something else" option, and was immediately connected with an agent.

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (7)

In my experience, calling Southwest yielded a live person within two minutes and 40 seconds, while I was connected with an agent on the chat line immediately after asking to speak with a live agent. Neither had a long wait.

Spirit Airlines

Best approach/phone number: 855-728-3555

Alternate option: Online chat

When calling Spirit, select option two for changes to an existing reservation. You can then select option two and then option one to be put in the queue for a customer service agent. You may be prompted to chat via your mobile device as an alternative to waiting on hold during the call. When I chose this option, I was quoted a wait time of 20 minutes to chat with an agent.

Unfortunately, Spirit does not estimate a wait time over the phone. Even so, I only waited five and a half minutes before being connected to an agent on my test call.

You can also chat with Spirit on WhatsApp and via the Spirit Airlines contact page. I've found the fastest way to navigate the contact page is the following:

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (8)

  • Select "Change or Cancel My Flight."
  • Select "Cancel My Flight."
  • Select "Yes, cancel it."
  • Select "Not yet!" when asked if that answered your question.
  • Select "Speak to a representative" to be transferred to the next available agent.

This online process yielded an estimated 20-minute wait time, but I ended up being logged out of the chat due to inactivity after waiting nearly 45 minutes. By phone, I waited 22 minutes.

United Airlines

Best approach/phone number: 800-421-4655 for United Airlines MileagePlus members, 1-800-864-8331 for non-members
Alternate option: Online chat or text "UNITED" to 32050 on your mobile device

If you've called United before, the system should recognize you. All you need to do is say "reservations" and answer a few questions to be automatically put in line to speak to a human. However, the automated system did try repeatedly to keep me from speaking to a real person. The wait time for a phone agent was about two minutes when I called.

You can also chat with United via the customer support page by logging in to your United MileagePlus account, scrolling to the bottom and clicking on "Chat now."

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (9)

I could chat with a live agent almost immediately after working through a few automatic chat prompts. I waited only two minutes when I called, so both are good options.

Advanced options to reach airline assistance

Download the DoNotPay app

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. The app will direct your request to the right airline and forward the call to you after waiting on hold.

Head to the "Customer Service" section of the app, where it will ask you which company you are having a problem with, and you respond with the airline you want to call.

The app will then ask for a brief description of what you want to talk about and ask if you want the app to have the airline call you instead of waiting on hold. DoNotPay has built a database of priority and VIP customer service numbers for tons of companies.

For legality, if you opt into recording the exchanges, the app automatically plays a message informing both parties they'll be recorded. A human voice detection system hears when a real agent picks up the phone and then rings your phone.

Try a foreign call center

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 2095) and Hong Kong (+852 3002 1208) for British Airways, the Japan call center (+81 3 3298 4719) for Etihad Airways, the Australia call center (+61 02 9101 1948 ) for American Airlines and the Japan call center (+81 0570 077733) for Delta.

Remember to add or remove the necessary zeros before the phone number if you're calling from the U.S.

Use the Spanish line

You can also try the foreign language-speaking agents for U.S. airlines, especially if you speak multiple languages. But if you are in a pinch, know these agents will also generally speak English. We don't recommend this as a first step. However, if all else fails and you have the option to push two for Spanish, try that way to get quick help when the English line is hopelessly backed up.

Bottom line

Elite status members of an airline's frequent flyer program usually have access to different phone numbers and can enjoy shorter wait times and potentially better service. Not everyone has elite status, but even elite members may face a lengthy queue during peak times.

Whether you have airline elite status or not, there is usually more than one way to get help from an airline customer service agent. It pays to know of a Plan B or even C if you need help in a hurry and can't otherwise get through.

Related reading:

  • Frontier drops customer service calling, but does its online chat work?
  • Southwest Airlines customer service woes: From getting refunds to missing bags
  • Customers are even more dissatisfied with airlines this year, J.D. Power says

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the authorโ€™s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

How to reach airline customer service quickly - The Points Guy (2024)


How do I actually talk to someone at American Airlines? โ€บ

If you have questions or want to make special travel arrangements, you can make them online or call 800-433-7300.

Why do airlines take so long to answer the phone? โ€บ

Usually if there is a long wait time it is because of a large amount of flight cancellations due to weather. During these times the customer service lines are overwhelmed trying to rebook passengers. When there are not these kind of blanket flight cancellations the wait time should not be too bad.

How do I get a response from American Airlines? โ€บ

Dial the American ๐”ธ๐•š๐•ฃ๐•๐•š๐•Ÿ๐•– customer contact center at +1-804-853-9001 ๐Ÿš€ to speak with their knowledgeable human agents. Listen to the IVR responses and choose the option that best fits your query.

How to ask for airline compensation? โ€บ

To receive compensation for delayed flights, call your airline through their customer service line or go to the customer service desk if you are at the airport to file a claim. However, you will only get compensated if the delay is within the airline's control and is not weather-related.

How do I get a human at American Airlines immediately? โ€บ

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How can I get in touch with American Airlines fast? โ€บ

The most convenient and fastest way to speak to someone at ๐”ธ๐•ž๐•–๐•ฃ๐•š๐•”๐•’๐•Ÿ ๐”ธ๐•š๐•ฃ๐•๐•š๐•Ÿ๐•– is by calling their customer service number at (+ใ€๏ผ‹๐Ÿ๏ผ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ•๏ผ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—๏ผ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿใ€‘ ๐Ÿš€ // +ใ€๏ผ‹๐Ÿ๏ผ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ•๏ผ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ—๏ผ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿใ€‘ ๐Ÿš€๐”ธ๐•ž๐•–๐•ฃ๐•š๐•”๐•’๐•Ÿ ๐”ธ๐•š๐•ฃ๐•๐•š๐•Ÿ๐•– . Alternatively, you can start a chat conversation online for assistance.

Which airline has the best customer service? โ€บ

Southwest Airlines Ranked Top Airline in Newsweek's America's Best Customer Service 2024 List. We are excited to announce that Southwest Airlines is ranked No. 1 on Newsweek's America's Best Customer Service 2024 List in the Airlines and Low-Cost Airlines subcategories.

Why is airline customer service so slow? โ€บ

The consolidation of the airline industry, overcrowding of planes, outdated technology, cost-cutting measures, and employee morale has all led to a decrease in customer service.

Can flight attendants tell if your phone is in airplane mode? โ€บ

Does your flight attendant know if your phone is in flight mode or turned off? As a rule, no. There's no device that's regularly installed on airplanes that can figure out how many phones, tablets, e-readers or other kinds of device are on in the cabin.

Do airlines respond to complaints? โ€บ

A Transportation Industry Analyst will forward your complaint to the airline and the airline is required to respond to you and DOT. Once the airline's response is received, a DOT analyst will review your complaint and the airline's response to determine if a violation occurred.

Can you chat with American Airlines agent? โ€บ

From booking and seats to boarding passes and airport maps, we're with you every step of the way. Plus, now you can speak directly with a team member or get 24/7 virtual help through our chat tool.

Why does American Airlines say please check in with an agent at the airport? โ€บ

You need to show additional documents. Another reason that your boarding pass may say โ€œsee agentโ€ is that certain travel documents need to be verified. If you had not previously selected a seat, some airlines cannot automatically issue a boarding pass with a seat assignment until the documents are checked.

At what point does an airline have to compensate you? โ€บ

If you choose not to take another flight on that airline, you are legally entitled to a refund. For delayed flights: Airlines are not required to provide flight delay compensation. Compensation is only required when โ€œbumpedโ€ from an oversold flight, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

How to negotiate with airlines? โ€บ

Another way to negotiate with airlines is to use your leverage. This means using any factors that can give you an edge or influence over the airline. For example, you can use your loyalty status, your frequent flyer miles, your credit card benefits, or your travel insurance to get better deals or more flexibility.

What do airlines owe you for delays? โ€บ

Delayed and Canceled Flights

The DOT does not require the airline to offer compensation, but it doesn't hurt to ask. With no federal compensation requirement for delayed passengers, refer to the policies of the operating airline to determine what compensation the airline will offer.

Can I chat with an American Airlines agent? โ€บ

The American Airlines app

From booking and seats to boarding passes and airport maps, we're with you every step of the way. Plus, now you can speak directly with a team member or get 24/7 virtual help through our chat tool.

What is service in customer service? โ€บ

Customer service is the support, assistance, and advice provided by a company to its customers both before and after they buy or use its products or services. Customer service is a critical factor in ensuring buyer satisfaction, retaining customers, and growing a business.

Does American Airlines compensate for delays? โ€บ

An American Airlines passenger is entitled to compensation in the event of the following: Flight delay: If your American Airlines flight arrives at your destination more than 3 hours later than expected. Flight Cancellation: if you were not informed of the cancellation or informed less than 14 days before departure.

What is the phone number for American Airlines employees? โ€บ

You can call the Team Member Service Center help line at 800-447-2000. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.โ€“7 p.m. CT.

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