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Stranded by Sandy? How to Get Faster Airline Help

Hurricane Sandy is wreaking havoc for airlines, airports and passengers this week. Fortunately, airlines are offering flexible options to change or refund tickets without having to pay additional fees. (Read more: US Airlines Cancel Flights, Hotels Book Up Before Hurricane)

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Here's a summary of travel waivers in effect for the major U.S. airlines, as well as tips on how to get faster service.

Keep in mind travel waivers are dynamic, and constantly being reviewed by airlines and modified depending on the storm's path and impact. Always check with your airline and track the links below for the latest updates.

Plus, waiting on hold on the telephone with a local agent is inefficient.

Traveler Tips Beyond Waiting on Hold

Getting through to airlines on the phone this week will be a challenge. Instead of waiting on hold, consider these options:

  • Websites: Cancel or reschedule your travel on the airline's website. Each of the airlines listed below offer this option.
  • Overseas Call Centers: Most U.S. airlines that fly overseas have dedicated call centers. Consider calling one of the international telephone numbers listed on the airline's website for faster service.
  • Get Elite Status — or Ask a Friend: Having frequent flier elite status takes you to the front of the line when calling an airline. If you don't have elite status, consider reaching out to a colleague or friend who does to make the call for you.
  • Just on United: If you're flying United, they have a "click to call" feature. You enter your telephone number and an agent will call you. While you might not get a call immediately, it certainly beats sitting on hold.

(Read more: Expedia CEO: Sandy to Hurt Results, Not Long-Term Plans)

Travels Waivers by Carrier

American Airlines

Travel dates: October 28 to October 31.

Original ticket must have been purchased by: October 26.

Policy: Change fee is waived and canceled flights qualify for a full refund. Rescheduled travel must be completed by November 4.

Delta Air Lines

Travel dates: October 28 to October 31.

Original ticket must have been purchased by: October 28.

Policy: Delta will refund your ticket for canceled flights, or allow a one-time change without fees. Rescheduled travel must be completed by November 4.

JetBlue

Travel dates: October 28 to October 31.

Original ticket must have been purchased by: October 26.

Policy: Canceled flights qualify for a full refund. JetBlue will waive change fees and airfare differences. Rescheduled travel must be completed no later than November 10.

Southwest

Travel dates: October 29 to October 30.

Original ticket must have been purchased by: Not provided.

Policy: Southwest will refund tickets for any canceled flight. Change fees are waived if rescheduled travel is completed within 14 days of the original flight.

United Airlines

Travel dates: October 28 to October 31.

Original ticket must have been issued by: Not provided.

Policy: United will refund tickets for canceled flights. Change fees and airfare differences will be waived if rescheduled travel is completed by November 7.

US Airways

Travel dates: October 28 to October 31.

Original ticket must have been issued by: Not provided.

Policy: Full refunds are allowed for canceled flights. US Airways will waive change fees if rescheduled travel is completed by November 7.

Virgin America

Travel dates: ctober 28 to October 31.

Original ticket must have been issued by: ctober 26.

Policy: assengers may receive a full refund or a travel credit for canceled flights. Change fees and airfare differences will be waived if rescheduled travel is completed by November 10.

Travel

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