How to File a Complaint Against an Airline

December 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News & Tips

The end of the year is a busy time for the airlines. Many people are taking flights to get home to loved ones or head out of town for a winter vacation. Most often passengers will come and go with no problems. There are times however, when issues with the airlines arise. If you happen to be one of those passengers who encounters a problem, what do you do?

If you’ve had a bad experience with an airline, you may want to file a complaint. Whether it’s lost luggage or terrible food, you want to make sure you speak up. But where do you start? What is the best way to file a complaint and make sure you’re heard? Here are some tips.

* Be sure you know what the rules and expectations are from the beginning. The airlines view your purchase of a ticket as an agreement to abide by the rules regarding luggage handling, delays, and so forth. You don’t want to waste your time filing a complaint for an incident that is already covered under the existing rules.

* Tell someone in authority right away. The longer you wait, the less clout your complaint will have. And it’s important to give the airline a chance to make it right before filing a formal complaint. The airline may be willing to make you an offer that will resolve the issue. Also, if you continue to pursue a formal complaint, your dissatisfaction is documented.

* Look on the web. There is a US Department of Transportation website called the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement, Here, there are various categories (security and safety, disability discrimination, etc.) where you can file a complaint.

* Save your receipts for any expenses incurred as a result of the problem you experienced. You may need these later on if you continue with your complaint.

* Be specific. Make sure you are certain as to why you are complaining. For example, you’re much more likely to get results if you point out that you were discriminated against because you are in a wheelchair than if you simply say you don’t appreciate how you were treated.

* If you want to pursue your complaint, you can file one with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Their website has a page where you can find a BBB office near you (

* If you need someone to process your complaint for you, contact ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) at Steps are outlined that guide you through the process of getting ASTA’s Consumer Affairs Department to mediate between you and the airline.

* Put things in writing. Keep notes on whom you speak with and when, and get their names and contact information. This will come in handy if you choose to pursue your complaint further. Document everything you possibly can.

Hopefully you won’t run into any problems with your airline but it’s good to be prepared in case you do.

Presented by:
Sima Kimble

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