OpenSkies counter Randy Petersen
Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

Hang Up and Call Again and You Do Not Get If You Do Not Ask: Mantras For Life

When he wrote in this article greater than three years ago that “I don’t think there can possibly be any better advice in travel than ‘hang up and call back’”, Gary Leff of View From The Wing initially restricted the thought to only travel; but the last word of the title of the aforementioned article would complete that statement: “Life”, as in that there cannot possibly be any better advice in life than ‘hang up and call back’ — travel or otherwise.

Hang Up and Call Again and You Do Not Get If You Do Not Ask: Mantras For Life

Hanging up and calling back is one of the best pieces of advice you can get when it comes to life in general, as the headline of his aforementioned article states. “Any time you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, try another agent. Most airlines are big companies, agents have varying levels of competence, and also varying levels of helpfulness.”

The mantra of hang up and call again is really a subset of you do not get if you do not ask, which is another excellent piece of advice offered by Gary Leff in this article from last year — as I personally know from years of experience.

Consider the experience of Kendra Collins of Points & Pixie Dust when she was “walked” from a hotel property — which was oversold — to a different hotel property; and she would not have to pay a penny for that night as compensation. Most people would be thrilled to stay a night at a hotel property free of charge; but she was “bummed” pertaining to getting that free night because that free night was considered “off the books” and did not count towards the 25 nights she need to qualify again for elite level status.

In the Comments section of that article, I replied to her that I was “walked” at a hotel property of a brand of Marriott International, Incorporated on Long Island in New York years ago, which was overbooked when I arrived with a confirmed reservation late at night. I was “walked” to a better Marriott hotel property. The stay wound up being complimentary; but I did receive credit for that stay despite not paying a penny for it. I advised her to call the customer service telephone number of the frequent flier loyalty program again to try to receive credit for her stay.

I do not know what was the outcome or even whether or not she called; but she had nothing to lose — other than a few minutes of her time.

Two Examples From My Personal Experience Which Unexpectedly Worked

On a flight from the United States to Zurich several years ago for which I was going to spend ten days in Europe — but some plans fell through and I did not need all ten days after all — an announcement by the gate agent requested volunteers who were willing to take a later flight.

I, of course, volunteered.

I was instructed to wait aside while the passengers boarded the airplane. After the door was closed and the airplane departed for Zurich, the gate agent then scheduled me to be a passenger on an earlier flight the next day, which was absolutely fine with me. I was already being compensated with a voucher worth $750.00 for a flight on which I paid $333.00; plus I was given $40.00 for meals and lodging for the night — and I earned frequent guest loyalty program points from a purchase at the hotel where I relaxed and stayed for the night.

“What seat would you prefer?” the gate agent asked me.

“A seat as close to the front as possible,” I replied — which is my typical preference…

…and then — after a momentary pause — I finished the response with a suggestion that I be seated in the business class cabin.

I was completely joking about that last part; so you can imagine my surprise when the gate agent said “Let me see…” and started clicking away at the keyboard on the computer.

Before I realized it, I was assigned to a seat in the business class cabin; and it was treated as though I paid for it and not as an upgrade, which meant that I earned bonus frequent flier loyalty program miles and qualification miles towards elite level status for the next year — as well as complimentary access to the airport lounge…

…all for only $333.00 and a night of my time.

There was another example from years ago where I volunteered to “bump” myself off of an airplane for a flight to West Palm Beach — on which I was assigned a seat in the economy class cabin — for a flight to Fort Lauderdale instead where I received a voucher; and without even asking, I was assigned to a seat in the first class cabin on the Fort Lauderdale flight, which departed only an hour later. All I had to do was change my rental car reservation, which was no problem at all. I was definitely well compensated for that hour of my time…

…which leads me to the next thought: do not offer to take a later flight unless it is really worth your time. If you value your time at $200.00 per hour, for example, offering to take a later flight may not be worth your time if the next flight departs two days later; the next day; or even several hours later. Ensure that the compensation is reasonable enough to alter your plans before offering.

Most importantly; as with the example involving Kendra Collins: if there is something that you want which would sweeten the deal for you, ask for it. You can even explain that you are in the middle of a specific objective — such as attempting to qualify for elite status. You just might encounter an agent who is sympathetic to you and will honor your request.


Boy, all of this “bumping” and “walking” is making me dizzy.

All joking aside, I have always said that it never hurts to ask for what you want, as usually the worst that can happen is that the person you ask will deny your request. It also usually never hurts to ask someone else who can grant you your request, as usually the worst that can happen is that the person you ask will deny your request. How many times you should “hang up and call again” is based on your feel of the nature of your request — there is no specific and definitive rule to follow — so you will know when you are experiencing the situation.

If someone wants something from me, they have a better chance of me complying with their request than if they never asked me in the first place. I can be pretty good at anticipating what someone else wants; but I am not a mind reader.

The way I see it is this: you almost always have a significantly better chance of getting what you want simply by asking and pursuing the answer for which you are seeking than by not asking at all.

After all, you never know just how successful you can be potentially with having your requests fulfilled…

Can you guess who is the gentleman in the foreground with the long hair at the ticket counter? Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

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