So if you have an airline complaint, whether it's lost bags, a delayed flight, or poor service, always try to resolve it politely at the airport. If that doesn't work, send a letter or e-mail to the airline, and follow these guidelines:
— Be polite, specific, and as brief as possible, citing flight numbers, seat location, employee names if known, cost of fare, etc.
— Include your frequent flier number.
— It's always a good idea to "sit" on your letter for a few days after writing it in order to cool down and rephrase things.
— Never say, "I will never fly your airline again!" since that gives the airline no incentive to help.
— Ask for a specific remedy — whether it is extra frequent-flier miles, a refund, or a voucher —and be reasonable.
— And remember, even airlines with stellar reputations err from time to time, as happened in this snafu involving Emirates and JetBlue that I attempted to fix with limited success.
— You can also complain to the U.S. D.O.T., however don't expect to get a reply or resolution unless it's a safety/security or disability/discrimination issue.
Perhaps the best advice, though, is to avoid setting yourself up for air travel #fail to begin with, as I documented in an earlier column.
Airline contacts for consumer complaints
Here are the e-mail, website and corporate mailing address contacts for U.S.-based airlines. Although most people like to e-mail these days, I find that a well-written, snail-mail letter can be more effective since so few people send them and they tend to stand out (plus you can include photocopies of relevant documents if applicable). And you can also pay the post office for a confirmation that the mail has been received.
Oh, and by the way, you can also use these methods for saying something nice about your flight or an employee's extra care.
5230 Clipper Dr., Ste. 200
Atlanta, GA 30349-8127
P.O. Box 68900
Seattle, WA 98168
4333 Amon Carter Boulevard
Fort Worth, TX 76155
P.O. Box 20706
Atlanta, Georgia 30320-6001
7001 Tower Rd.
Denver CO 80249
27-01 Queens Plaza North,
Long Island City, NY 11101
3375 Koapaka Street
Honolulu, HI 96819
2702 Love Field Drive
Dallas TX 75235
P.O Box 66100
Chicago IL 60666
4000 E. Sky Harbor Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85034
555 Airport Blvd., Fl. 2
Burlingame, CA 94010
Airlines are also using Twitter to resolve complaints, but some are better at this than others. Here are their handles:
George Hobica is the founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. Airfarewatchdog features the best airfares on thousands of routes verified by a team of expert fare analysts.