How can you assure your airline complaints are being taken seriously?

AP Photo/Mel Evans, File

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This has not been the best year for public relations for United Airlines. The much-publicized case of the doctor who was dragged off a flight to make room for United employees didn’t help the public image of the airlines.

Cindy Neal of German Village,  got caught in bad weather while traveling in April, grounding her in Jacksonville, Florida.  Most of us have experienced a delay and typically airlines provide vouchers for delayed or inconvenienced passengers.  Ms. Neal received vouchers to use during her three-day delay.

The problem was a number of vouchers were expired, so she spent her own money on food and lodging.  Recovering her funds has been a journey.  She turned to NBC4 for help.

One of the most important things Ms. Neal has done is contact customer relations at United.  Providing documentation is also important to recover her money.

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that all carriers provide passengers with means to file complaints, and United’s policy is to respond to grievances within 60 days. You can increase your chances of a favorable outcome by documenting the circumstances and expressing clearly how you want to be compensated.

Step 1

Attempt to resolve your grievance by asking to speak with the United agent with the highest authority at the site or reservation center. Calmly state your case to the agent and present what you feel is a reasonable solution or compensation. You can also use Twitter on your cell phone or laptop for an immediate response from the airline’s social media team.

Step 2

Make notes on the circumstances of your complaint while they are still fresh in your memory. Document dates, times, location and names of United Airlines employees involved. Jot down your ticket numbers, record locator and itinerary details. Use your cell phone camera to photograph damaged bags or unsanitary conditions, for example.

Step 3

Use online channels to escalate your complaint, attaching documentation to the email as necessary. On its website under customer care, United Airlines has a form for customer feedback on flight experiences. If you are still unhappy with the airline’s response, consider sending a letter by standard mail to a customer service official at the airline’s corporate offices, along with copies of your documentation


  • United Airlines has a “Customer Commitment” that states its policies addressing many areas of consumer dissatisfaction. Hold authorities to these standards when filing your complaint.
  • Avoid being sarcastic or rude, no matter how upset you are.


  • Be sure your suggestions for the resolution of your problems are within reason, or risk not being taken seriously.
  • If you have a concern about the safety of an aircraft, call the Federal Aviation Administration toll-free at 866-835-5322 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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