The Art of HUCA
Traveling for free, especially the steps leading up to it (stocking up points and making reservations), often requires a good amount of time spent on the phone. Despite the fact that many plans can be made online, sometimes you need pick up the phone to:
- call the bank for reconsideration of a credit card application that they have denied, or
- call the airline to make an international or partner airline award reservation, or
- call the hotel where you have booked an award stay and ask for an upgrade to a nicer room
- etc. etc. etc.
There is always a person on the other line who is making the decisions. Much of the time, those decisions are set in stone, bound by the rules of the bank, airline or hotel. But sometimes there are situations where it is obvious that the phone representative has the power to either:
- Give you what you want, or
- Not give you what you want
In these situations, if #2 happens but you think #1 was possible and the rep was just not being cool with you, then you need to follow up on your hunch. You can’t let one bad-mood rep get you down. Countless times I have been shot down for a credit card reconsideration or seat/room upgrade or whatever, and then instead of taking that as the final verdict, I call on the wisdom of my favorite acronym. WWJD? Nope, but very close because we all know JWD this any day. My favorite acronym is actually HUCA: Hang Up, Call Again.
Hopefully when you call back, you’ll get another person who is having a better day. Before you even ask him/her for anything, ask the rep how they are doing and just be super nice (not many people are actually nice to them) so that they will go the extra mile for you and do everything in their power to get you that upgrade or credit card. This has worked for me sooooo many times. It pays to be nice and it pays even more to be persistent. If you do need to HUCA, don’t be mean about it. You’ll never talk to them again, true, but I believe in a little thing called karma. At least come up with an excuse that doesn’t make them feel bad, aka don’t just hang up in their face. Sometimes when you call back, they will say, “oh well I see that you just talked to a customer service rep; what happened?” In this case, just explain that you got inadvertently disconnected somehow.
So then what if the second rep denies you too? HUCA if you really think there is a chance of doing better. One time I wanted to book a Star Alliance flight with my US Airways miles and I knew with 99% certainty that there was availability on a particular Star Alliance flight because United’s site was showing availability. I must have HUCA’ed 4-5 times before I got an agent who was able to book my award flights properly. I HUCA’ed last weekend to get a sweet upgrade at the San Francisco Grand Hyatt.
Moving beyond the frequent flyer realm, the wisdom of HUCA can solve most of life’s problems. Fired? HUCA. Dumped? HUCA. Pneumonia? HUCA. Feeling down? Listen to the “HUCA Chaka” song and sing along with David Hasselhoff: