How to Write an Effective Complaint Letter to an Airline

So you’ve had a bad experience on board, and we’re not talking turbulence and that thunderstorm caused delay. Instead of whining about it to your peers and colleagues, work the effective way and pen down your concerns to the airlines itself. While writing one, remember these handy tips so that your complaint letter will be taken seriously, unlike the heap of lewdly crafted sweet nothings sent by disgruntled travellers like you.

1.    This one’s a no-brainer. Include all your contact information like name, address, home and work phone numbers and email address.


2. Go back to your ticket and read through the rules and policies carefully. Chances are your issue may not have been something unprecedented after all, as mentioned in the ticket.

3. Skip the angry outburst, and even the sarcastic ones. As much as it may feel good to vent it all out in paper, it is highly likely that the person in charge of addressing passenger issues is responsible for causing them. Instead, he’ll be helpful in getting your issues resolved. So make it brief, cordial, and of course reasonable.

4. Keep your grammar, spelling, punctuation and capitalization in check. Start off the letter by stating what exactly went wrong, and conclude the letter in two paragraphs. If you are a frequent flyer, do mention it in your letter.

5. Include all important facts about flight like the flight number, date of travel, name of the airport from where you caught the flight, names of airline/airport employees, and other relevant information that can help them track down your issue.

6. In the third paragraph, state the actions you want them to undertake in order to compensate for the problem (a refund, issue a new ticket, etc). Also mention how long you are willing to wait for a compensation, all this while managing to sound reasonable.

7. Attach a copy of your ticket. If you’re sending the letter by post, make sure you send a copy of your ticket and not the original ticket itself.

8.  Keep a copy of the letter for your records. It will come in handy if you want to escalate the matter as a legal concern.

9.   You can also contact the airlines through its social media page. But this shouldn’t be your only approach as few airlines are active on social media websites, and this being a casual approach, you may not be taken seriously. Write a short statement summarising your letter, adding the fact that you have already lodged an official complaint, and post it on the page..

10. Grant them a period of 60-90 days to respond to your complaint. If you don’t hear from them by then, escalate it to the senior Vice President of customer service, or any other higher authority who can be of help. This time round, print out a letter instead of the usual electronic approach. Always type out your letter, even if you’re sending it by snail mail.

11. If the response is delayed beyond all reason, or if the solution they provide is unsatisfactory, get a professional on your side. This could mean hiring a lawyer, or speaking to a journalist on the issue. Bad publicity is something airlines are known to steer clear from.

  While You’re On Board:

1) Take notes when things go wrong. Even better, click pictures that can validate your concern, like a broken armrest that could bruise you. Write down the time when the issue occurred, and the names of the in-flight staff under whose responsibility the task to fix such issues could have been assigned.

Business travel experts say that the best complaint letter is the one you never had to write. If something goes wrong, try to resolve the problem on the spot. But keep your calm and remember that you can always write a letter if talking does not solve the problem.

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