How to Resolve an Airline Complaint

Travelers who use airline services may need to resolve a complaint about an issue with the airline. Passengers may have baggage that doesn't arrive, flights that are canceled or delayed, meals that are unacceptable, customer service professionals who fail to serve, or other issues with their airline experience. Here are some tips for resolving an airline complaint.


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    Ask for an on-site supervisor. Many airline issues can be resolved quickly by asking to speak to someone on the scene with the authority to make an exception to a rule.
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    Write a letter or email. Explaining the issue in writing gives you an opportunity to calmly state your case. Keep the letter or email message short and polite, and ask for the resolution you want. Most airlines have email and postal addresses on their websites.
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    Contact senior management. If you can't resolve the problem through normal customer service channels, you may need to contact the senior leadership team of an airline in order to find a resolution to your problem.
    • Visit the website of the airline, and find the page that talks about the executive leadership team. It might be on the investor relations page, in the press release section, or on a page labeled "Company Information" or "About Us."
    • Call, write or email the most senior person you can find (usually the Chief Executive Officer). You're unlikely to receive a response from that person directly, but you'll often hear back from his assistant, who is usually empowered to quickly resolve customer complaints.
    • Follow up in 1 week if you haven't received a response.
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    Use social media. Many airline customer service departments have accounts on social media sites. Making your case in these public mediums often gets the attention of airline staff members who can help resolve your issue. Consumer advocacy and travel blogs often cover stories about airline issues and help customers and airlines find a resolution.
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    Report the issue to a government agency. If all else fails, complain to the agency that oversees the airline in question. Airlines don't have the legal option of ignoring the agencies that regulate them, so enlisting their help can help you get the resolution you seek. Most regulatory agencies have websites with detailed instructions as to how to file a complaint.


  • Remain calm. Few conflicts are improved by rude behavior. Even if you're upset, take a deep breath and speak in a normal tone of voice. Putting the person you're dealing with on the defensive usually will not help resolve your issue.
  • Be reasonable. Asking for a resolution that is normal in the course of airline business (like an upgrade, free tickets, or meal and hotel vouchers) means you're more likely to get what you want. If your request is unsafe or lavish, you're unlikely to prevail.

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Categories: Air Travel