How to Talk to Agents (and Other Ways to Get the Awards You Want!)
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Getting the award flight or hotel stay you want usually requires planning. But it also helps to get the right airline or hotel agent!
Often, you won’t get the award you’re after unless you have an agent who is willing to go above and beyond to help you. And you’ll have better luck if you sound like you know what you’re talking about, and do your research in advance.
Here are 4 tips for how to talk to airline and hotel agents! And what NOT to do! 🙂
How to Talk to Agents (4 Quick Tips)
1. Always, Always, ALWAYS Be Polite!
I can’t emphasize this enough. Being nice makes a world of difference. And you will NOT get what you need by being rude, pushy, or yelling.
In fact, you’ll likely get the exact opposite of what you want if you’re unkind to an agent. Trust me, folks who are mean to airline agents often find themselves wedged into a middle seat in a non-reclining row near the back of the airplane! 🙂
Remember, you want the agent on your side. They’re much more likely to help you if you’re friendly, open, and have a positive attitude.
2. Be Prepared
Do your research in advance. Search for award flights and find out (as much as you can) where award seats are available before you call the airline. Tools like ExpertFlyer can be very useful!
If you’re looking for a specific hotel stay or type of room, be sure to check online before you call to book.
When you call an airline to book an award, you should already know dates, flight numbers, routings, and times (as much as possible!).
For example, DO say:“Hello! I’d like to book 2 award tickets in coach on XYZ Airline flight #123 from Chicago O’Hare to Los Angeles on April 5, 2015. I see that there are available award seats online.” (Even better – use the airport 3-letter code and spell it using the phonetic alphabet!) Do NOT say: “Hi, I’d like to use miles to fly from Chicago to Los Angeles this spring.” An agent who gets a call like this knows they’re in for a lot of work and questioning!
3. Hang Up, Call Again
Sometimes, despite being the politest, most well-prepared customer, you won’t get extra help from an agent.
That’s usually the best time to say dinner is on the table and thanks for your help!
Call back later and try again. Agents are human. They have off-days too, and some are just more likely to help than others.
And if you end up on the phone with a newly-hired agent, they might not have the tips or tricks at their disposal to help you get the award you want!
4. You’re Not More Entitled Than Anyone Else
Nobody likes an obnoxious customer with an overblown sense of entitlement.
Especially if they’re getting something for free (or very cheap) that others would normally pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for.
Please, don’t be like this guy.
And in certain cities (like Las Vegas), the $20 trick has worked to get free upgrades and other benefits for many folks!
Be humble and discreet when asking for extras and you’ll likely have good luck! But if it doesn’t work out, at least you tried.
The number 1 way to keep airline and hotel agents on your side (so they’ll help you get the award flight or stay you want) is to be POLITE.
Being prepared, doing your research, and sounding like you know what you’re doing are also keys to making your phone call or interaction a success.
If things aren’t going your way, there’s nothing wrong with hanging up and calling again. But never, ever be rude or sound entitled. That’s a sure way to NOT get what you need!
Do you have any good tips or tricks when talking to airline or hotel agents? What’s worked for you?
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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)