The Basics Travel Guide

Tips to Reach the Airline When the Phone Wait is Too Long

Written by Charlie

Here are some tips on how to reach the airline when you cannot get through on the phone. With so many people calling, the wait time for regular phone numbers is very high.

Those of us who have lived/traveled in the northeastern US know what it is to have long hold times for airlines. Every year, there is always that “big” storm that throws airline schedules totally out of whack and lines people up for hours in the phone queue. Now, that same thing is happening all over the world and in much larger numbers. So, how can you get through to an airline to change your flight or cancel it?

How to Reach the Airlines When the Phone Wait is Long

Check Online

The US airlines especially are improving how customers can make changes to current reservations or cancel the flights altogether. Simply enter your reservation number on the airline website and see what options are available to you. Remember that the airlines are offering fee-free changes but you will still need to pay for any change in fare between your old ticket and new one.

Check each airline’s website since it may also be possible to just cancel the flight for now and then rebook it later with no fee. This is great if you are scheduled to travel in the next couple of days. Several airlines have already done a fairly good implementation of this and even said that you could cancel your flight and then follow up with them later about it (though check each airline to make sure what their policy is on this).

Try Social Media

There are some travel providers that have a robust social media presence. If you have Twitter, give that a shot. Just send the travel provider a DM (direct message) to get the ball rolling. Do not just send them a tweet with your information as that can be see by all! I have had great success using Twitter DMs when hold times are long. But, not all airlines are great at this so give it a few hours and then try something else!

Facebook and even WhatsApp now have connections to some airlines as well so check them both out.

Here are some of the Twitter accounts to help you out:

Those should be enough to get you started. Remember, not all of them are as good as some. The last time I had to tweet British Airways (over a year ago), it took them 10 days to get back to me! 🙂 Hopefully, they have improved since then.

The best thing to do would be to Direct Message them with your reservation locator and what you want to happen with the ticket so they can have all that information before contacting you back.

Try a Different Phone Number

If you are in the US and trying to call an airline, chances are very good that you are going to have very long wait times. The solution to this is to call that same airline in a different country.

For example, readers were talking about very long hold times for Turkish Airlines. I called the main line in Istanbul and was able to get through in less than 2 minutes! Part of that was due to selecting English (most people calling the Istanbul office are going to speak Turkish).

This can be done with any airline that has a presence in an English speaking country. Focus on a country that does not have a high number of virus cases right now since it will be more likely that hold times will be less.

Here are some other numbers to try for popular airlines. If you are calling from the US, the “+” is for dialing 011.

Make sure you are using Skype or some other low-cost international service to call any of the foreign numbers below. Otherwise, that hold time could cost you a ton!

American Airlines
  • Australia – +612-9101-1948
  • Singapore – +65 6349-8444
  • Puerto Rico – 800-981-4757

Each of the above numbers are available 24 hours a day. This page has more numbers

Delta Air Lines
  • New Zealand – +64 9-977-2232
  • Singapore – +65 6336-3371

Each of those numbers are available 24 hours a day. This page has more numbers


They do not have many number options but most things can be handled online. If you need to cancel, check out this page.

United Airlines
  • India – +91-022-40908000 (open from 9am to 5pm, Monday – Friday and 9am – 2pm on Saturday – local time)

This page has more numbers. Use the links at the bottom of the page to select various regions.

If you are booked with another airline, here are some airline pages with various phone numbers.

Airline Phone Numbers

Call Them Just Before They Open!

Some numbers you may find will have hours they are closed. The best thing to do is to call while they are closed to see what menu options you need to press until they give you the message they are closed.

Now that you know how long it takes to get to that point, plan to call just that long before they are scheduled to open. It should place you very near the top of the line. I did this with Aeroplan and was talking to a rep in under 5 minutes when hold times the day before were over an hour.

Sit Tight and Wait

If your flight is not for another month or so, there is no real reason to be calling them right now. Many airlines are telling customers to not even call until 72 hours before the flight. The best thing to do is to send a direct message on Twitter, Facebook, or WhatsApp and just wait.

Another reason to wait is that the airlines are working on better implementation of their websites to handle online changes and reservations. It could be that another week or two and you can handle everything you need online – without ever needing to call in.

One more thing you could do is to call and see if your airline has a message letting you know that they can call you back. If they have that, take them up on it since you are not in that much of a hurry.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.