The days of glamorous air travel are long since over.  Flight delays, lost luggage and the general struggle of getting through an airport makes the whole concept of flying unappealing.  And things do go wrong – so how can you fight back?
  • The most common complaints concern flight delays.  The truth is that your holiday time is immensely precious such that if you lose a day or two through flight disruption, you feel justifiably robbed and monetary compensation never seems quite enough.  When an airline sells you a flight, it is bound by contract to take the you to the stated destination but there is no guarantee of arrival time.  Within the EU there is a tariff of compensation depending on the length of the flight and the period of delay save in exceptional circumstances.  My simple advice is to “go for it” whatever the delay and see what happens.
  • Your first port of call with any air travel complaint should be with your travel insurer.  Policies vary widely and needless to say there are lots of exclusions but anyone travelling should have cover to deal with such issues as delays and lost luggage.  Keep careful notes about everything that happens and hold on to relevant receipts so that formulating your claim is easy.  Do bear in mind that airlines only have to provide nominal damages for lost luggage and the do so on the basis of weight – a lost case containing rags will be assessed in the same way as a bag of designed clothes and the amount given is feeble.
  • If a problem arises during the flight procedure then action you are best advised to act immediately – at least to put down a marker. Whilst on the plane, the issue should be raised with the cabin crew and, if necessary, a complaint form requested. Whilst in the airport, complaints should be taken up with an airline representative.  If neither of these options provides an adequate response (which is often quite likely) then a formal complaint letter should be addressed to the airline at a high level.   Alternatively if the complaint relates to a scheduled flight then it can be referred to the Air Transport Users Council (AUC).
  • Complaints relating to charter flights should be taken up directly with the tour operator because you have a contract with them and not the charter airline.  Reputable tour operators and travel agents are often members of the trade bodies, Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and if a travel complaint remains unresolved then it should be taken up with the appropriate organisation.