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DOT Consumer Complaint Process

Addressing Air Travel Service Related Issues and the DOT Consumer Complaint Process

Air Travelers have rights.

Federal laws protect airline passengers by specifying airlines’ obligations, including when an aircraft is oversold, luggage is lost, delayed, or damaged, a flight is delayed on the tarmac, and refunds are required.  Federal laws also prohibit airlines from discriminating against an air traveler on the basis of his or her disability, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or ancestry.

DOT’s aviation consumer protection website provides information on key topics of interest to air travelers organized by topic.  For additional convenience, DOT maintains a “Fly Rights” guide, as an easy to use reference for air travelers.  

Addressing air service related issues.

Airline Safety: For information on reporting an airline safety issue visit the Federal Aviation Administration’s FAA Hotline webpage here

Aviation Security: For concerns about aviation security call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) toll-free at 1-866-289-9673 or email TSA.  For additional information, visit the TSA website.

Non-safety or security air service related issues: For the fastest resolution of many air service related issues, contact an Airline or Ticket Agents’ Customer Service Representative.

If you encounter a disability-related issue related to an airline accommodation or service, ask to speak to the airline’s Complaint Resolution Official (CRO).  A CRO is the airline’s expert in disability related issues in air travel and has the authority to resolve complaints on behalf of the airline.

Air travelers who experience disability-related problems may also call DOT’s toll-free hotline for air travelers with disabilities 1-800-778-4838 or 1-800-455-9880 (TTY) to obtain assistance.  The hotline will provide general information about the rights of air travelers with disabilities, respond to requests for printed consumer information, and assist air travelers with disabilities with time-sensitive disability-related issues.  The hours for the hotline are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.

Air travelers who believe their rights have been violated or are unable to resolve an issue to their satisfaction may file complaints with the airline, ticket agent and/or DOT.

File a complaint with the airline or ticket agent.

  • DOT requires airlines to acknowledge consumer complaints within 30 days of receiving them and to send consumers written responses addressing these complaints within 60 days of receiving them (30 days for disability related complaints).
  • DOT requires airlines that fly to, from, or within the United States to state on their websites how and where complaints can be submitted.  There may be a form on the airline’s website for this purpose.  Often, you may also email or write to the airline or ticket agent’s consumer office at its headquarters.

File a complaint or comment with DOT.

  • Use this online form to send a complaint or comment to DOT about an air travel consumer or civil rights (including disability) related issue or experience.
  • You may send DOT correspondence by mail at the address below.
    • When mailing a letter, please include your full address and phone number as well as complete and accurate information about your trip and the problem you had or are having.

Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75 
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC  20590

  • You may contact DOT by phone at 202-366-2220 (TTY 202-366-0511) for information related to a consumer related problem.  Please know that in order for a case to be processed as a complaint, it must be submitted in writing.
  • Pursue private legal action. You might be able to seek recourse through small claims court.  Click here for more information. 

DOT’s Consumer Complaint Process. 

For Disability and Discrimination Complaints

  • A Transportation Industry Analyst will forward your complaint to the airline and the airline is required to respond to you and the DOT. 
  •  Once the airline’s response is received, a DOT analyst will review your complaint and the airline’s response to determine if a violation occurred.  After the analyst reviews your case, it will be given to an attorney for review.  Once your case is reviewed by an attorney, an analysis with our findings will be sent to you.  Please note that due to the volume of cases received, and the thoroughness of this process, it may take some time to fully process your case.

For All Other Complaints 

  • A Transportation Industry Analyst will forward your complaint to the airline or ticket agent.  The airline will be required to provide you with a response. The analyst will ask the airline to provide a copy of the response to DOT only if it falls under one of the areas DOT enforces.  Ticket agents are encouraged to respond.  The DOT analyst will then review the case to determine whether a violation occurred.  If your complaint does not appear to fall under any of the laws that we enforce, it will still be logged in our database. 

How do complaints help DOT and the Public?

  • Complaints from consumers help DOT spot problem areas and trends in the airline industry.  Complaints can lead to enforcement action against an airline or ticket agent when a serious violation of the law has occurred.  Complaints may also be the basis for rulemaking actions.

Where can I find statistics on the number of complaints filed with DOT?

  • Every month, DOT publishes its Air Travel Consumer Report, which contains information about the number and type of complaints DOT receives about airlines and ticket agents.  This report is made available to the public so that consumers and air travel companies can compare the complaint records of individual airlines, ticket agents, and tour operators.
  • In addition to complaints, the report also contains statistics that the airlines file with us on flight delays, cancellations, bumping, mishandled baggage, and other helpful information.
     
Last updated: Friday, February 28, 2020