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Travel Complaints: How To Complain Effectively

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When things go wrong while traveling, one of the most effective ways to solve the problem is to complain. After all, like the old proverb says, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

But simply complaining  is not always enough to get results.

There are ways to make your voice heard more efficiently and effectively.

On The Early Show on CBS, Peter explains the fine art of complaining to get results.

Peter discusses how talking to the right people and paying for your trip the right way can make the difference between getting heard or getting burned.

Watch Peter’s segment here:

You can watch the video on here. Peter’s TV & Video segments on here.

Read more about complaining effectively here. But don’t miss the tips below…


Do you have a travel complaint but don’t know where to go or who to contact? We’ve got the complete list here, plus tips on Peter on the do’s and don’ts of to complain effectively to get results.

Never take “no” for an answer from someone who doesn’t have the power to say “yes” in the first place.

Don’t go all the way to the top like the CEO. Do go to the the person who is authorized to make decisions like the general manager, supervisor or complaints resolution official.

Don’t wait. Do try to solve the problem while you’re still at the airport/hotel/rental company, or as soon as possible after making the credit-card purchase before the statute of limitations runs out.

Don’t pay with check or cash. Do pay with a credit card.

Don’t rely only on phone calls. Write a letter and keep a paper trail of all correspondence, receipts and confirmation codes.

Don’t be adversarial. Do be polite and express your interest in being a loyal customer if you’re treated right.

Don’t assume everything will work out for the best. Do carry a camera the time code turned on and take pictures of your rental car before you drive off.

Don’t be vague. Do be reasonable. Sometimes asking for a specific resolution can help expedite the process, but don’t reach for the stars in the hopes of a cash windfall. Be realistic about what will solve the problem for you.

1. DOT Airline Service:

  • Complaints not related to airlines safety or security
  • Lost or mishandled bags
  • Delays
  • Mishandled animals
  • Voluntary or involuntary bumping

DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD).
Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590

Air Travel Complaint/Comment Form.

All complaints are entered in DOT’s computerized aviation industry monitoring system, and are charged to the company in question in the monthly Air Travel Consumer Report, available at:

2. FAA Aviation Safety Hotline

  • Maintenance improprieties
  • Aircraft Incidents
  • Suspected Unapproved Parts
  • Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) violations

Assistant Administrator for System Safety ASY-100
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591
800-322-7873, or the Aviation Safety Hotline at 800-255-1111
FAA Safety Hotline Online

3. FAA Aviation Consumer Hotline

  • Ask questions about FAA-monitored consumer issues
  • Hazardous Materials — report specific violations
  • Whistleblower Hotline — aviation industry employees can report information relating to air carrier safety or participate in other protection activities
  • Report: Maintenance improprieties; Aircraft incidents; Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) violations

Federal Aviation Administration
Consumer Hotline, AOA-20
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591
866-835-5322, – Consumer Hotline

4. TSA Aviation Security Complaints

Report specific violations and concerns about security

Sample Complaint Letter – Adapted from The Consumer Action Website Federal Citizen Information Center:

Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
(Your e-mail if sending via e-mail)


Name of Contact Person
Title (if available)
Company Name
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear (Contact Person):

First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to address my travel concerns. Per our conversation, I am following up my recent phone call with a formal letter of complaint regarding my recent experience on your airline.

On (date), I (traveled, purchased, rented) a (flight, trip, package, rental, product) with (name of company).

Unfortunately, I am disappointed because (describe the situation as concisely as possible: for example, the service was not performed correctly, I was billed the wrong amount, something was not disclosed clearly or was misrepresented, etc.). I hope to resolve this issue so that I can continue to offer my business as a repeat customer.

To resolve the problem, I would appreciate your (state the specific action you want—refund, credit, etc.) Enclosed are copies (do not send originals) of my records (include receipts, confirmations, canceled checks, correspondence with employee ID numbers included, and any other documents).

I look forward to your reply and a resolution to my problem and will wait until (set a time limit) before seeking help from a consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau. Please contact me at (phone and email) or at the address above.


Your name

By Peter Greenberg for

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