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File a Consumer Complaint

Before you contact DOT for help with an air travel problem, you should give the airline a chance to resolve it.  Airlines have trouble-shooters at the airports, usually called Customer Service Representatives, who can take care of many problems on the spot.  They may be able to arrange meals and hotel rooms for stranded passengers, write checks if you’re bumped from your flight, help with baggage issues, and settle other routine claims or complaints.

If you can’t resolve the problem at the airport, you may want to file a complaint with the airline.  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.  DOT also requires airlines to let consumers know how to complain to them.

It’s often best to email or write to the airline’s consumer office at its corporate headquarters.  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. 

If you feel that the airline does not resolve the issue to your satisfaction, you may want to file a complaint with DOT.  You may also file a complaint with DOT if you feel that you experienced unlawful discriminatory treatment in air travel by airline employees or the airline’s contractors on the basis of disability or on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or ancestry. 

Safety and Security Complaints

Please note that aviation safety and security complaints are not handled by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

  • If you have a concern about airline safety (airline and airplane safety, emergency exit seating, low-flying aircraft, pilot licensing, and related issues), call the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) toll-free at 1-866-TELL-FAA (1-866-835-5322) or visit the FAA website to report a safety-related travel problem.
  • If you have a concern about aviation security (passenger screening, the “no-fly” list, the baggage screening process, and related issues), call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) toll-free at 1-866-289-9673 or email TSA.  For additional information, visit the TSA website.  

Contact Us By Phone or Mail

If you would rather submit a complaint to DOT via phone or a written letter, please feel free to do so using the contact information 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.

  • Contact us by phone – You may file a complaint with DOT by phone at 202-366-2220 (TTY 202-366-0511).
  • Contact us by mail – To contact us by mail, please send your correspondence to the below address.
    • Aviation Consumer Protection Division, C-75
      U.S. Department of Transportation
      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC  20590

How the Complaint Process Works

For Disability and Discrimination Complaints

  • A Transportation Industry Analyst will forward your complaint to the airline, and the airline will be 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 mailed 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 and 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.  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. 
  • Every month, DOT publishes its Air Travel Consumer Report, which contains information about the number of complaints we receive about each airline and what problems people are having.  This report is made available to the public so that consumers and air travel companies can compare the complaint records of individual airlines 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.

How Do Consumer Complaints Help DOT?

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

Additional Resources

Updated: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
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