What Should I Do If I Have A Complaint About An Airline?

Before calling the Department of Transportation for help, check with the airline to see if they can resolve the issue on the spot. They can also help you get accommodations, arrange for meals, and settle other routine complaints.

If you can’t resolve the issue at the airport, you can file a complaint with the airline. The Department of Transportation requires airlines to respond to consumer complaints within 30 days and to give consumers written responses within 60 days.

It’s usually best to contact the airline’s consumer office or email them at their corporate headquarters. The Department of Transportation also requires airlines to clearly state their procedures on their websites.

If you’re not satisfied with the service provided by an airline, you can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. You can also file a complaint if you experienced discrimination based on race, color, religion, or sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, there are times when flying as an airline passenger can be memorable. For some, this can be a stressful experience due to various factors such as the lack of food, luggage, and mechanical problems.

If you think that an airline is not following the rules when it comes to handling issues such as delayed luggage or flight delays, then you should try to resolve the issue with the company itself.

How To File A Complaint With An Airline

Understand The Rules

When you buy a ticket, you and the airline agree to a contract that covers various scenarios that you may encounter during a flight. Some of these include overbookings, delayed flights, and lost or damaged luggage.

Depending on the type of flight you’re flying and the country where it’s going, your experience may vary. For instance, if you’re flying from Las Vegas to London, the policies of the discount airline may vary compared to those of the international flight.

Dealing With A Problem As Soon As Possible

When you encounter a problem with an airline, the best thing to do is to bring it to the attention of the company’s staff members or call them directly. This will give them the opportunity to resolve the issue.

If you were bumped from a flight due to overbooking, then you are usually entitled to receive compensation from the airline. However, if the situation is not resolved, then make a counter offer.

Before filing a formal complaint, it’s important to gather all the relevant details about the incident. This can help gather enough information to form a report. If the issue pertains to a US airline, you can use the Airsafe.com Online Complaint Form.

Recognize Why You’re Grumbling

After you’ve decided to acquire information about your position, but before you call or send that letter, you should take some time to learn a few essential facts about your specific circumstances:

  • What’s the matter with you?
  • What was the situation that motivated you to complain, and who or what organizations were involved in that situation?
  • What are the things you wish to happen in order to resolve the issue?
  • What should you expect to happen as a result?

Being specific in a complaint is very important to ensure that the right response is given to you. Having enough details will allow the right response to be given to you.

One should also make sure that the expected outcome of the complaint is reasonable. Generally, if the airline is obligated to compensate you, then you should only expect compensation.

Complaining Fundamentals

Having the time to thoroughly assess your situation at the start will help make the entire complaint process go smoothly. Doing so can be broken down into three phases: writing down all the details of the situation, understanding the reason for the complaint, and filing it in the appropriate places.

If the issue is not immediately resolved, it may take a few days or weeks to resolve. It is important that you keep track of all of your documents, including your ticket receipts and any out-of-pocket expenses.

Writing Down The Relevant Details

Ideally, you should take notes when you realize that something is not right with the airlines. Having all of the basic details about yourself will help you avoid making a mistake. Having these will also help you remember the details that are most important to you.

One thing to remember is that the details that you provide should be factual and verifiable. For instance, if you claim that a gate agent was rude, but the goal of your complaint is to get compensated for an over-priced bag, then discussing the incident is not relevant.

Your efforts to document what happened will help you address two key issues: what was the situation and what do you expect the airlines to do about it.

Recognize Your Situation

When you buy a ticket, you and the airlines have entered into an agreement that covers various scenarios that you may encounter during a flight. This contract typically includes things such as lost luggage and cancelled fights.

This agreement can usually be found at the airport’s gate agent or customer service desk. It can provide you with key details about the agreement, such as the address where you can file a complaint.

If the issue involves a criminal or civil lawsuit, then you will most likely need legal advice before proceeding. However, if it doesn’t, then you can still deal directly with the airline.

When it comes to compensation for lost or stolen baggage, there are limits to how much you can receive. In most cases, airlines and insurance companies won’t compensate you for the valuables that were in your checked luggage.

Complaint Letter Writing Advice

While you may contact one or more airline employees by phone, relying on written communication as your primary means of interacting with the airline greatly increases your chances of achieving a resolution. The following pointers will also help you communicate your message more effectively:

  • If you’re sending a letter or an email, make sure to include all possible contact methods in your message (phone number, fax number, email address, physical mailing address, etc.)
  • Keep your first message to one page at most (roughly 250 words)
    Include any pertinent details that the airline will require to comprehend your issue.
  • Indicate the amount you expect to be compensated if you incurred expenses or monetary losses.
  • Make a clear statement about the conclusion you desire (reimbursement, other compensation, letter of apology, etc.).
  • Maintain a professional tone in your letter.
  • Concentrate on the facts and include details such as dates, names, and flight numbers.
  • Send copies of tickets, receipts, or other documentation to support your claim if necessary.
  • Include the names of any staff who were disrespectful or made the situation worse, as well as any who were particularly helpful.
  • Any demand you make should be reasonable.

Following these guidelines can help the airline treat your complaint seriously. Having a written communication with them can help them identify the issue and prevent it from happening again.

Complaints About Safety And Security

When you believe that a certain situation threatens the safety of passengers or crew members of an aircraft, it is important that you inform the appropriate authorities.

In the US, it’s the Transportation Security Administration’s responsibility to screen passengers and baggage on flights. If you encounter a problem, you should contact the agency or submit a claim form.

  • Please contact the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) website to report a safety-related issue if you have a concern regarding airline safety (airline and airplane safety, emergency exit seating, low-flying aircraft, pilot licensing, and related issues).
  • Call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) toll-free at 1-866-289-9673 or email TSA if you have a problem about aviation security (passenger screening, the “no-fly” list, the baggage screening process, and associated issues). Visit the TSA website for more information.

What Is The Procedure For Filing A Complaint?

Discrimination And Disability Complaints

  • Your complaint will be forwarded to the airline by a Transportation Industry Analyst, and the airline will be compelled to reply to you and the DOT.
  • Once you’ve received the airline’s response, a DOT analyst will look through your complaint and the airline’s response to see if there was a violation. Your case will be handed to an attorney for review after the analyst has reviewed it. An analysis containing our results will be delivered to you once your case has been evaluated by an attorney. Please be aware that due to the high volume of cases received and the thoroughness of this process, processing your case may take some time.

For All Other Dissatisfactions

  • Your complaint will be forwarded to the airline by a Transportation Industry Analyst, and the airline will be compelled to respond to you. Only if the response comes within one of the DOT’s enforcement areas will the analyst request that the airline send a copy to DOT. The case will next be reviewed by a DOT analyst to see if a violation occurred. Even if your complaint appears to be unrelated to any of the laws we enforce, it will be recorded in our database.
  • Every month, the Department of Transportation releases its Air Travel Consumer Report, which details the amount of complaints received by each airline as well as the issues that passengers are experiencing. Consumers and air travel firms can compare the complaint records of individual airlines and tour operators using this data, which is made available to the public. The report includes statistics from the airlines on flight delays, cancellations, bumping, mishandled baggage, and other useful information, in addition to complaints.


If you have a complaint about an airline, politely ask the staff to resolve it. However, if they refuse to do so, send an email or letter to the airline.

All airlines are required by law to provide their customers with a variety of ways to contact their customer service department. These include phone, email, and snail mail.

According to the US Department of Transportation, there were over 138,316 complaints about airlines in the period from March 2020 to September 2021. If you still have a problem with your airline, you can file a complaint with the DOT.

The complaints that come in are often included in the monthly reports issued by the Department of Transportation. These reports can be used to identify violations of the law and lead to enforcement actions against the airlines.

James Newman

James Newman is an air travel fanatic. From the fear of flying, TSA regulations, and saving money on flights & airlines, James has extensive knowledge when it comes to air travel. He hopes to make your air travel experience a better one with his blog flyingcomfortably.com.

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