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Making a complaint about air services

How to make a complaint about an airline, an airport or a travel agent – and what to do if you're not satisfied with the response. You can also find out what to do if your luggage is lost or damaged.

What to do if your luggage is lost or damaged

Lost, damaged or delayed baggage is covered under the 1999 Montreal Convention. Under the Convention, the airline is liable in most cases for luggage that has been delayed, damaged or lost. This liability is limited to approximately £1,129.

You should report any problems with missing or damaged baggage at the service desk in the collection hall before you leave the airport. The agent on duty will file a report and give you a copy. Make sure you don’t lose it, as it will be easier to make a claim with the airline if you show the report.

If you are carrying particularly valuable items, you should tell the airline before your baggage is checked in. In many cases, you can pay a fee and make a ‘special declaration’ that will cover your item for the full amount. For more information about special fees, contact your airline directly.

Complaining about airlines or airports

If you have a complaint, it is best to resolve it using the two-stage process below.

Speak to airport or airline staff

Try to speak to someone at the airport or airline. They might be able to sort out your problem straight away. If they are unable to help or if you are still not happy, try to find out who is responsible for what went wrong. It may be that the airline is not at fault.

Make a note of the names of people you speak to, dates, times and any other relevant information.

Put your complaint in writing

If talking to staff doesn't resolve things, the next step is to put your complaint in a letter. Depending on whose services you are complaining about, this should be addressed to:

  • the customer relations department of the airline
  • the tour organiser
  • the operator of your package holiday
  • the airport

Briefly explain what went wrong and say what you expect to be done about your complaint. If you want compensation, say so, and say how much you expect. Whatever you write, be reasonable and stick to the facts.

Send copies of tickets or receipts with your first letter of complaint and keep the originals. If you are claiming a refund, the airline or travel agent will need the original tickets eventually. You should, however, hold onto these until you have a promise of a refund in writing. This is unless you can go to the travel agent or airline office yourself to get the refund there and then.

Remember to keep copies of all correspondence.

Escalating your complaint

If you have complained to an airline or airport in writing and you're not satisfied with the outcome, contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

If you write to the CAA, make sure you include copies of all correspondence you have exchanged with the airline or airport.

Send your complaint to:
Passenger complaints
Civil Aviation Authority
CAA House
45-59 Kingsway

Or call 020 7240 6061.

Complaints about tour operators or travel agents

If you've complained to your agent or operator and you're not satisfied with their response, find out if they're a member of a trade association. Trade association members have arbitration procedures for customer complaints.

The two main trade associations are the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

Unresolved complaints

Both the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) offer an independent dispute settlement service. This involves having a third party attempting to mediate quickly in difficult disputes.

  • Source Direct Gov
  • Last Updated: 06 Jan 2012