First, ask yourself objectively whether or not your complaint is
frivolous. Reading through the many passenger letters posted here, you will find some complaints dealing with:
flight cancellations due to bad weather
temporarily lost luggage
unavailability of desired meal selection
movie or music selections offered on flights
If your complaint falls into one of those categories, the airline
is not likely to respond to it seriously. Also, keep in mind that
despite the general decline in United's service record over the last
few years, the employees there are human, and can only accomplish
so much in response to difficult situations. However, you should
not accept this excuse for rude treatment or excessive incompetence.
If your complaint is serious, send it in writing to the attention
of the appropriate party at the airline. Some contacts are provided here.
Be specific as to what you expect United to do, and
give them a reasonable deadline to reply. In this regard, you might want to take a
look at some of the success stories of other
As you write your letter, checking for spelling and grammar are highly encouraged, This makes your letter easier to read, even if the "person" at the other end is just a computer generating a form letter reply.
Keep your letter brief, coherent, and to the point. If you can't get the facts down in two pages, the letter is probably too long. The fill-in form provided here will help you focus on the points that are directly relevant to the airline.
Consumers with concerns about
airline safety or security can call the Federal Aviation Administration toll-free at 1-866-TELL-FAA (1-866-835-5322) or the Transportation Security Administration toll-free at 1-866-289-9673.
Consider escalation to a Small Claims court if your complaint is not resolved. The Sue the Airlines site offers additional background information and advice regarding the legal route In general, it's good practice to advise UAL in writing of your intent to pursue this course of action if your demands are not met in a timely manner. Contact information is available here.
Sending your complaint to the U.S. Attorneys General in Illinois and Texas (where United Airlines maintains its headquarters) have been helpful for some passengers
Make audio recordings of your interactions with United personnel. This is legal and the recordings are usually admissible in court. Don't forget, when you call the airline by telephone, they typically record the conversation at their end! Make sure you get the names of anyone with whom you speak. If you can't record the interaction, take detailed notes. Ask the airline representatives to put whatever they tell you in writing. If they refuse, type up your notes and send them by email as a written record.
If you purchased your ticket with a credit card and feel that United didn't deliver the contractually agreed upon service, dispute the charge with your credit card company.
Will United respect your rights?
probably not: as Daniel Bernstein notes in his insightful analysis, it doesn't make economic sense for United to obey the laws
since most passengers won't go to the trouble of making a written demand for payment, and following up (e.g., through small claims action or notifying their attorney-general), the airline can save a lot of money by ignoring its legal obligations