Download a Sample Letter of a Complaint to an Airline

List of North America's largest passenger airlines claims that in 2016 the biggest US air carriers enplaned approximately 801,254,637 passengers that is 1520 passengers per minute. It is very impressive, isn’t it? May all the passengers be satisfied with their flights and what can turn their enjoyable experience with airlines into the worst ever nightmare?

Probably, such an service made an author of the book “ The Memory Trap” Anthony Price: “The Devil himself had probably redesigned Hell in the light of the information he had gained from observing airport layouts.” Couldn’t you agree more?

How to write a complaint letter about airline

What are the reasons to complain about an airline?

According to Airline Quality Rating consumer complaints about airlines fall into the following categories:

This sort of airline complaints is caused by delayed or canceled flights. Especially, when the air company provided neither a solution nor compensation for additional expenses like: a hotel room, food or transportation.

If you have any flight problems or concerns you can report it directly to the airline:

  1. Flight Problems.

    United Airlines:
    Report a flight problem to United Airlines
    Submit United Airlines complaint 
    Allegiant Air:
    Lodge delayed flight complaint to Allegiant Air
    Place Allegiant Air flight complaints
    American Airlines:
    Request a refund with American Airline
    Leave American Airlines complaint 
    Frontier Airlines:
    Report delayed baggage problem to Frontier Airlines
    Submit a Frontier Airlines review 
    Delta Air Lines:
    Complain to Delta Air Lines
    Leave Delta Airlines complaint

  2. Oversales.

    The customers can claim their compensation in case their flight was overbooked and they were involuntary denied boarding, or bumped;

  3. Reservation, Ticketing, and Boarding.

    Passengers may complain if, for example, the changes were made to their itinerary (changing flights, dates, times or destinations), or their the boarding was denied due to unprecedented reason;United Airlines Customer Service

  4. Fares.

    These complaints emerge when customers hadn’t been informed about additional charges for booking cancellation, seat selection, baggage allowance before the ticket was purchased;

  5. Refunds.

    Passengers can demand reimbursement for the services that had been claimed but weren’t provided. For example, the customer had paid for a business-class seat but owing to overbooking received an economy-class one or owing to overpayment the passenger requires refund for the price difference;

  6. Baggage.

    This type of air transportation complaints is connected with all the baggage policy issues when the luggage is lost, damaged, delayed or detained. The property irregularity report involves not only air carrier but an destination airport as well therefore it is reported directly at the Lost & Found Office upon arrival:

    United Airlines Customer Property Claim Form:

    United Airlines baggage claim

    American Airlines Passenger Property Questionnaire:

    American Airlines baggage claim

    Delta Property Loss Claim Form:

    Delta baggage claim

    Or you can report your lost luggage online:

    How to report lost baggage

  7. Customer Service.

    This kind of complaints is triggered by the rude and unhelpful attitude of fleet staff towards passengers at the time of checking-in, boarding, departure, arrival, delay or cancellation of flights etc.;

  8. Disability.

    Passengers may complain about the missing or malfunctioning facilities for disabled people.;

  9. Advertising.

    The complaints may be connected with misleading advertising where the prices or services were misrepresented.;

  10. Discrimination.

    It can be a subject of a complaint if the customers have suffered from airline personnel’s ill-treatment based on religious, sexual or racial judgments.;

  11. Animals.

    These issues are connected with animals’ mistreatment at the time of their transportation that led to pet’s death, injury, or loss;

  12. Other.

    Like, e.g., in-flight comfort:

    • Aircraft seats. Passengers can complain about uncomfortable seat legroom, seat width, damaged or defective in-seat power facilities etc;
    • Meals. Customers can be disappointed with the quality of in-flight meal since it was not fresh or was spoilt and caused digestion disorders. Also, when the in-flight service hasn’t provided pre-ordered food that was justified by health issues or religious aspects e.g.: gluten-free, lactose-free or Kosher food.;
    • Cabin cleanliness. Customers can be concerned about following violations of sanitary conditions on the plane: unclean seats, aisles, dirty restrooms etc.;
    • Aircraft change. Passengers may express their dissatisfaction with a sudden substitution of the pre-booked preferred aircraft type.

Of course, no air carrier is flawless, even the best companies may fail sometimes. But if you happen to face some of the above-mentioned issues, is there a point in filing a complaint? No doubt, a properly-drafted appeal becomes an effective tool, that plays a significant role in handling the situation.

A well-prepared letter of complaint may help you in the following cases: to demand reimbursement, a return flight, free or reduced price accommodation, meal, if your flight has been delayed or canceled; free transportation, flight substitution or refund in case your initial flight has been overbooked, compensation when your boarding has been denied etc. But still, how to handle a complaint to succeed? Are there certain secrets that may assist you in this?

Step by step guide on how to complain about an airline

  1. Be prepared.

    Collect all the necessary information, when something isn’t right from the start. Get into the role of a journalist: note down all the details, take photos or videos to have a recorded visual proof. Remember the names of the staff, flight number, exact time etc. All these data will be extremely useful for a complaint letter to an airline.

  2. Know the rules and your rights.

    Study the website of the airline to become familiar with the rules and your rights. What you can or cannot demand in certain situations, and what you should do for this. Maybe in particular cases, it will be enough just to call the customer service channel, write an email or address staff members in charge to resolve the issue.

  3. Write a proper complaint letter.

    If your issue requires writing a complaint letter to an airline company, it has to correspond to definite rules: be courteous and justified, lucid and concise. Remember that the whole complaint should contain not more than three paragraphs. You can download a sample letter of a complaint to an airline as well. 

    The first two explain your experience in detail and the third provides your possible solution: reimbursement for a hotel room, meals or a free ticket. Your demand must be reasonable: you shouldn’t ask for 1000$ refund if your in-flight meal was stale. Do not use exclamation marks, type in bold or caps lock so as not to seem aggressive. Check grammar, spelling, and punctuation to make a good impression. And do not forget to attach all the necessary copies and scans of documents, photos, receipts etc.

    Download a Sample Letter of a Complaint to an Airline

  4. Address official channels.

    Send your complaint letter through the official website of an air carrier. Generally, the process of handling a complaint takes from 5 to 60 business days. The policy of particularly your airline you may find on its official channel.

  5. Try to complain through social media and review sites.

    If your issue hasn’t been resolved in a stated time you may start complaining on unsatisfying customer service via social media and different websites where you can leave your complaints and reviews, e.g. PissedConsumer, Tripadvisor, eDreams, AirlineRatings or other. Today, it is one of the most effective ways to get through to the companies. Airline management cares about their reputation, especially on the Internet, and monitors negative reviews to prevent big class actions. A customer service of an air carrier may react instantly on your complaint, especially if it is not the only one. And small air companies usually handle complaints much faster than huge ones.

  6. Consider top executives.

    Also, you may try to collect the information about top executives of an air carrier and send your letter of complaint to them, having identified their corporate email address.

  7. Seek media assistance.

    In case, all of the above-mentioned ways haven’t succeeded, you can try another method and get a journalist on your side, that will cover your issue in the media and get your issue resolved. It’s a challenging approach but the most rewarding.

Having said that, the best complaint is still the complaint that hasn’t been written. If you can resolve your trouble on spot, without additional hassle, runarounds, and stress - it will be the most successful solution.

Legal disclaimers:

1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.

2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.

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