Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Write a Complaint Letter to an Airline

My father recently returned from a rather poor trip flying Delta Airlines.  He purchased an upgraded "Economy Comfort" seat, but the seat was located right next to the hatch opening for the emergency exit door, making his leg room non-existent.  It's bad enough that he had an uncomfortable flight, but he paid extra for the privilege to do so!  I helped him construct a letter to Delta, and he eventually was satisfied with the result.  However, not everyone has crafted a complaint letter before.  If you think that the airline (or hotel) needs to know about poor service, take these tips into mind:

1. Be Polite

Don't curse or use words like "idiot" in your letter.  Be calm and composed.  It might be best to wait a day before sitting down and putting pen to paper.  That can help your frayed nerves settle down a bit after an annoying flight experience.

2. Note To The Facts

Always use flight numbers, employee names, seat locations, frequent flyer number, and anything else that can help legitimize your letter.  By creating a paper trail of sorts, your letter will have more gravity and can easily tracked by the company.  This is critical!  The more vague you are, the less likely you will receive the generous settlement you're seeking.

3. Avoid Exaggerating

I have actually read a few complaint letters in a previous job, and some were guilty of some excessive hyperbole.  If you waited on the plane for two hours, state that exactly.  Scribbling something like "I waited for what seemed a lifetime.  Hours and hours passed," then that's being a bit disingenuous, don't you think?  No need to pen a Charles Dickens novel.  If the experience went that poorly, your calm rational letter should help that sentiment shine through.

4. Lay Out Expectations for Compensation

State exactly what you are looking for after your negative experience.  I told my father to ask for a refund on the Economy comfort upgrade fee (about $29) and some additional Skymiles.  After a few emails back and forth, he was awarded 3,000 Skymiles.  That's certainly not a lot, but it's better than nothing!

My Dad's Seat Didn't Look Anything Like This
5. Twitter Is Your Best Friend

As the social media craze explodes, airlines are scrambling to appear more "customer friendly" by setting up Twitter accounts to assist passengers.  Luckily, this is a huge benefit to slightly passengers.  Delta owns one of the more proactive Twitter accounts (@DeltaAssist) that can quickly respond to your issues.  During poor weather or when front line agents aren't being helpful, Twitter is surprisingly one of the best ways to go.  Other airlines, especially American Airlines, have great teams in place to assist passengers via social media as well.

A Great Way To Get Your Issues Dealt With Quickly
If any of you have had a bad experience with an airline, please shoot me an email.  I want to know whether your issues were settled in a timely fashion or whether you found it difficult to get the matter resolved. 

Until tomorrow, everyone!

-Charm City Traveler 

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