How to File a Complaint Against an Airline

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Making Sure Your Complaint Gets Heard

If you’ve had a bad experience on 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? In this article, we’ll tell you how to file a complaint against an airline and make sure it gets heard.

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. Your chances of resolving the issue to your satisfaction is a lot greater if you haven’t already accepted the issue as a condition of flying.

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 (safety and security, 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, contact ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). At, ASTA has outlined steps 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.


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