Those of us that travel on points have to communicate with airlines more often than the average person. The reasons we need to contact an airline can vary, whether it's because of something unexpected–like a canceled flight–or to change or cancel an award because we found something better. Regardless of the reason, we all want to get a hold of someone quickly and to resolve the issue efficiently.
Long gone are the days when the only way to communicate with airline was over the phone. This can still be an effective method with many airlines, but it's not the only one. Nor is it the most efficient in certain cases. Thankfully, we have a few different options. Let's look at some of these.
Direct messages via Twitter can be very effective depending on the airline. For example, American Airlines' Twitter team is prompt in their responses and efficient with their solutions. Recently, I received a travel alert for my AA flight due to weather in Florida. According to AA's app, I was eligible to change my flight for free, but the app wouldn't let me do it. Rather than calling, I reached out via Twitter and in about 25 minutes, a rep replied with a flight option asking me to confirm the change.
JetBlue's Twitter team is also quite helpful (though their response time is usually slower than AA's).
When using Twitter, you won't have the real-time dialogue you have with a rep on the phone. But if you don't need an instant response, you can still have your issue addressed in less than an hour in most cases without ever having to dial the phone.
Chatting via Website or App
Some airlines offer the ability to chat with a representative through their website or app. This is similar to chatting with Amex reps through Amex's website.
Delta offers a webchat feature that can be quite helpful. You do start off with a virtual assistant, but once you select the category with which you need help and answer a couple of other questions, you do get to interact with a human being on the other side who can help you.
One downside to these chat functions is that they typically do not save a history of the conversation. So if you expect to have to refer back to anything you've discussed with the rep, then we recommend taking notes or even screenshots along the way.
Other airlines with helpful chat functions on their website or app include JetBlue, American Airlines, and United. But beware: some other airlines, like Air Canada, seem to offer a chat function, but turns out it's just a bot and you have no way of reaching a human being.
WhatsApp or Texting
Exchanging text messages instantly via WhatsApp is another valuable option depending on the airline. Virgin Atlantic is a helpful example here. Meanwhile, KLM claims to have been the first airline to offer assistance via WhatsApp, so that could be a good option for contacting the Dutch flag carrier.
Alaska Airlines agents can be quite helpful over text messages. You can get a hold of them by texting “ALASKA” to 82008.
If you're not in a hurry but still don't want to spend time waiting on the phone, consider using good old email–perhaps the snail mail of online communications. This method can also be an effective tool. Turkish Airlines comes to mind here as an example.
General Tips for Communicating with Airline Reps
The Golden Rule is first and foremost. Treat others like you wish to be treated. Starting off a chat or call by simply asking how the agent's day is going can set the tone for the whole conversation.
If you're ever prompted to provide your loyalty account number, do so. Some airlines, like AA, save that information so that next time you call from the same number, the system recognizes you and saves you one step towards reaching an agent.
If you do end up on the phone, avoid calling while on the move. The last thing you want is being close to a resolution and have your call drop.
Contacting an airline doesn't have to be time consuming. A lot of the methods we discussed here let you get help for an issue while still going about your day, instead of having to sit on hold for hours on the phone.
What is your go-to method of contacting an airline? Share your thoughts in our Facebook group!