Most flight cancellations can be fixed quickly. Sometimes, the airline's reservation technology automatically rebooks your trip before you even realize a problem exists. Other times, the airline's mobile app can help you solve the problem. However, if you run into issues, don't like the options you were presented with, or aren't tech-savvy, getting help from a customer service agent will be crucial. Quick access to an airline agent can mean the difference between being delayed for a few hours and spending the night in a hotel.
In general, airlines know the importance of helping customers as quickly as possible and offering multiple options for getting assistance. If you didn’t use a travel advisor (the quickest option for assistance), here are the fastest ways you can get in touch with an airline representative.
Your nearest option for assistance is likely the gate agents assigned to your flight. However, domestic flights may only have one or two representatives at the boarding gate. When a flight is cancelled, and lots of people have questions or need help, this option might not be the most efficient.
If a long queue of people forms at the gate, locate an airport map and find the customer service desk for your airline. Typically, there is a bank of counters somewhere in the concourse, though the number of available agents will vary, depending on airport size and the time of day. Anyone, regardless of flier status, can seek assistance at a customer service desk. Keep your eyes open for special lanes, such as United's Premier Access or Delta's Sky Priority. If weather passes through an area affecting many flights at once, these customer service desks will get crowded quickly.
If you have club access, you can also get help in the airline's club. The number of agents available depends on the size of the club.
You can always call the airline for help, but you could experience a wait time of several hours. If you have elite status with the airline, call the specific phone number for the priority desk, which might mean a shorter wait time.
If all else fails, call the international phone number for the airline. These global call centers might have the shortest wait time as they are a continent away from the weather affecting the area you are in. If possible, use Skype or Google Voice to make the call, so you can avoid high international calling fees.
Many airlines offer virtual help. For example, United Airlines has QR codes, located throughout certain airports, that can connect you to a United Virtual Agent. These agents can do all the same things the local gate agents can, with a potentially shorter wait time. Like the international agents, United's Virtual Agents are less affected by isolated incidents at a particular airport or in a particular region.
Thanks to technology, these agents on demand can communicate in over 100 languages, so being fluent in another language might work in your favor.
You can a reach out to most airlines via Twitter. Have your record locator number handy and reach out to the airline via Twitter's direct message feature. This option might not be the fastest. However, real agents will read and respond to your request and be able to provide personalized service.