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First, don't expect United Airlines to respect your rights. As Daniel Bernstein notes in his insightful analysis, it doesn't make economic sense for United to obey the laws. United assumes that most passengers won't go to the trouble of making a written demand for payment, and following up on it (e.g., through small claims action or notifying their attorney-general). This way, United can can save a lot of money by ignoring its legal obligations.

The following offer some guidance in how to make sure that United takes your complaint seriously, and that you obtain the compensation you are owed.

STEP 1 - Get informed about your rights »
STEP 2 - Starting your letter: focus on the facts »
STEP 3 - State and justify your demands in the letter »
STEP 4 - Send your letter to the airline’s lawyers »
STEP 5 - Be prepared for a bumpy ride »

 

Credit to Gábor Lukács, a Halifax mathematician and air passenger rights advocate, for much of the content in this guide, which appeared originally on the CBC Marketplace blog. Follow Gábor on Twitter: @AirPassRightsCA