Try the airline's international call centers if you can't get through

Over the weekend, the DOT issued a clarification essentially ordering that “airlines provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier.” I wrote more about it here.

This is good news for the many travelers that have had flights canceled due to the COVID-19 situation. Personally, I’ve been able to get my money back for flights with AA, JetBlue and Southwest so far and I’m still working on a few others. In fact, I just wrote up this post detailing my experience asking five different airlines for refunds.

Importantly, the DOT update doesn’t mean refunds will be processed automatically. If you’ve had a flight canceled or changed and you haven’t been refunded for it, you still need to get in touch with an airline representative. And as you may know, their customer service lines are pretty busy right now. Many credit card customer service lines are tied up, too.

Well, here’s a tip I just shared with a reader named Jim, who wrote in noting that he waited two hours to speak with his credit card issuer about a flight refund—which he was then denied. If you’re looking for a refund for a flight operated by a major airline, don’t forget that the U.S. number isn’t the only phone number you can call. Airlines like American, Delta and United have call centers around the world. If you can’t get through to a U.S. call center, consider giving their international call centers a ring. Here are pages with international numbers for American, Delta and United:

I recommend making the call over Wi-Fi (over Skype, for example) to save money. There’s no guarantee that the wait time is shorter, but if you’re in a pinch, an international number is worth a try. If your flight isn’t for a week or more, though, you should consider waiting until a few days before your trip.

Have you tried calling airline international call centers?

Have you ever tried calling an airline’s international call center? Did it work?


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6 Comments On "Try the Airline's International Call Centers If You Can't Get Through"
  1. Jerry Huller|

    Yes, I’ve called an airline’s international call center. I did it several weeks ago when my wife and I were in New Zealand on vacation. Once the State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory, I figured I should check with the airline to see if my return trans-Pacific flight was still operating (online, everything looked hunky dory). I looked up the number for United Airlines in New Zealand. It was a toll-free 0800 call. I had the hotel operator call the number for me, and I got connected to a United Airlines agent in the US almost immediately. I then found out my trans-Pacific flight was indeed cancelled. I was able to get rebooked (but had more adventures once I started flying).

  2. thomas reiser|

    I had it work the other way when I was in the UK where Americans call center in the UK was closed so I called a US center and was able to handle the issue

  3. Geoff Blaesing|

    Last week, after discovering that Southwest cancelled a flight from MKE to RSW, I successfully obtained a refund within a few minutes on Twitter. @SouthwestAir. I have used Twtter in the past with success for Southwest.

  4. Anne McClusky|

    My daughters wedding venue canceled for June 20 and her honeymoon resort in the Maldives canceled her June 24th reservations. The airlines still havn’t canceled. What happens if they are flying then but she has no reason to go. Will they refund? Due to different dates and different costs she may go to somewhere else on different airlines so transferring dates might not work.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I don’t think they will refund it but they should give a full credit. I would wait to a few days before to see what happens

  5. Burton Fluegel|

    Can I just say what a relief to find someone who truly knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know how one can carry a difficulty to gentle and make it important. Extra people have to read this and understand this facet of the story. I cant believe youre no more widespread since you definitely have the gift.

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