Making a complaint about air services

Find out how to make a complaint about an airline, airport or a travel agent and what to do if you're not satisfied with the response.

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 or email. 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

Remember to keep copies of all correspondence.

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.

Find out more about making a consumer complaint.

Escalating your complaint

If you have complained to an airline or airport about a flight departing or arriving into Northern Ireland and you’re not satisfied with the outcome, contact the Consumer Council.

If you want to complain about a flight departing from or arriving at an airport in Britain, you should complain first to the airline or airport. If you aren't satisfied with their response, contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). They have authority to investigate your complaint about an airport in England, Scotland or Wales.

If you want to complain about a flight from an airport in the Republic of Ireland, contact the Commission for Aviation Regulation.

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 in the UK are the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). The Irish Travel Agents Associations (ITAA) covers the Republic of Ireland.

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.

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