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Complain to the DOT, get results

Have you ever had a bad experience with a particular airline, sent in a complaint, and received no response? Or worse, traveled with that same airline again and had a repeat bad experience?

Consumers, take note: There now may be an effective solution. According to Scott McCartney of the Wall Street Journal, airlines pay extra attention to complaints registered with the Department of Transportation (DOT)—even more so than those grievances logged directly with the companies.

McCartney says “some airlines do pay more attention to consumer complaints if travelers send them to the DOT, which categorizes and tallies complaints and publishes monthly rankings of airline performance.” Complaints typically cover lost baggage, delayed flights, denied boarding on oversold flights, and cancellations. Out of the 10 largest U.S. airlines tallied last year, US Airways and United Airlines had the most complaints, and Southwest and JetBlue had the least. To see how the airlines shape up complaint-wise, on a month-to-month basis, visit the DOT complaint tally website.

So if you’re looking for your grievance to be taken seriously, this is one situation where it may be helpful to bypass the primary source. You can register air travel complaints with the DOT by calling 202-366-2220 or emailing

To read the full story, visit the Wall Street Journal website (subscription required).

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