LegalFix
Select your state

Aviation

commercial flights

Federal Aviation Regulations

In the United States, commercial aviation safety and consumer rights are generally governed by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), which are located in the Code of Federal Regulations, beginning at 14 CFR §1.1. The FAR are prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), whose stated mission is “to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.” Commercial aviation is also governed by other laws and regulations, including the United States Transportation Code, beginning at 49 U.S.C. §41701.

File a Consumer Complaint

Before you contact the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for help with an air travel problem, you should give the airline a chance to resolve it. Airlines have trouble-shooters at the airports, usually called Customer Service Representatives, who can take care of many problems on the spot. They may be able to arrange meals and hotel rooms for stranded passengers, write checks if you’re bumped from your flight, help with baggage issues, and settle other routine claims or complaints.

If you can’t resolve the problem at the airport, you may want to file a complaint with the airline. DOT requires airlines to acknowledge consumer complaints within 30 days of receiving them and to send consumers written responses addressing these complaints within 60 days of receiving them. DOT also requires airlines to let consumers know how to complain to them.

It’s often best to email or write to the airline’s consumer office at its corporate headquarters. DOT requires airlines that fly to, from, or within the United States to state on their websites how and where complaints can be submitted. There may be a form on the airline’s website for this purpose.

If you feel that the airline has not resolved the issue to your satisfaction, you may want to file a complaint with DOT. You may also file a complaint with DOT if you feel that you experienced unlawful discriminatory treatment in air travel by airline employees or the airline’s contractors on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), religion, or ancestry.

Safety and Security Complaints

Please note that aviation safety and security complaints are not handled by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

• If you have a concern about airline safety (airline and airplane safety, emergency exit seating, low-flying aircraft, pilot licensing, and related issues) and want to report it, please visit the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) website by copying the URL below into your internet browser:

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/aae/programs_services/faa_hotlines/

• If you have a concern about aviation security (passenger screening, the “no-fly” list, the baggage screening process, and related issues), call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) toll-free at 1-866-289-9673 or email TSA at TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov. For additional information, copy this URL https://www.tsa.gov/travel and paste it into your browser to visit the TSA website.

Contact DOT by Phone or Mail

If you wish to submit a complaint to DOT by written letter, please feel free to do so using the contact information below. When mailing a letter, please include your full address and phone number as well as complete and accurate information about your trip and the problem you had or are having.

• Contact DOT by phone —You may contact DOT by phone at 202-366-2220. For a case to be processed as a complaint, it must be submitted in writing.

• Contact DOT by mail—To contact DOT by mail, please send your correspondence to this address:

Office of Aviation Consumer Protection
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

How the Complaint Process Works

For Disability and Discrimination Complaints

• A Transportation Industry Analyst will forward your complaint to the airline, and the airline will be required to respond to you and the DOT.

• Once the airline’s response is received, a DOT analyst will review your complaint and the airline’s response to determine if a violation occurred. After the analyst reviews your case, it will be given to an attorney for review. Once your case is reviewed by an attorney, an analysis with DOT's findings will be mailed to you. Please note that due to the volume of cases received, and the thoroughness of this process, it may take some time to fully process your case.

For All Other Complaints

• A Transportation Industry Analyst will forward your complaint to the airline and the airline will be required to provide you with a response. The analyst will ask the airline to provide a copy of the response to DOT only if it falls under one of the areas DOT enforces. The DOT analyst will then review the case to determine whether a violation occurred. If your complaint does not appear to fall under any of the laws that DOT enforces, it will still be logged in the DOT database.

• Every month, DOT publishes its Air Travel Consumer Report, which contains information about the number of complaints DOT receives about each airline and what problems people are having. This report is made available to the public so that consumers and air travel companies can compare the complaint records of individual airlines and tour operators. In addition to complaints, the report also contains statistics that the airlines file with DOT on flight delays, cancellations, bumping, mishandled baggage, and other helpful information.

How Do Consumer Complaints Help DOT?

Complaints from consumers help DOT spot problem areas and trends in the airline industry. Complaints can lead to enforcement action against an airline when a serious violation of the law has occurred. Complaints may also be the basis for rulemaking actions.

Flying Rights

For a consumer’s guide to air travel and flying rights, visit the DOT’s website by copying and pasting this URL into your internet browser: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights

In Texas, as in all states, commercial aviation is regulated by the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), which are part of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR §1.1) and are enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA's mission is to ensure the safety and efficiency of the aerospace system. Additionally, commercial aviation is subject to the United States Transportation Code (49 U.S.C. §41701). If a consumer in Texas has a complaint about an airline, they should first attempt to resolve it with the airline directly. Airlines are required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to acknowledge complaints within 30 days and respond within 60 days. Complaints can be filed on the airline's website, where instructions for submitting complaints must be provided. If the issue is not satisfactorily resolved, consumers can file a complaint with the DOT, especially in cases of alleged unlawful discrimination. It's important to note that safety and security complaints are handled by the FAA and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), respectively, not by the DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division. The DOT publishes a monthly Air Travel Consumer Report with data on complaints and other airline performance metrics. Consumer complaints are important as they can lead to enforcement actions or rulemaking by the DOT. For more information on flying rights and the complaint process, consumers can visit the DOT's website.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Texas Transportation Code - Section 21.041. General Powers and Duties
This statute outlines the general powers and duties of the Texas Department of Transportation, which may be relevant to aviation within the state.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has the power to plan, make policies for, and adopt rules for the use of the state highway system, which may include certain aspects of aviation facilities and services that intersect with state transportation infrastructure. While TxDOT's primary focus is on highways, the department also coordinates with federal and local agencies on transportation matters, which could include commercial aviation issues.

Texas Transportation Code - Section 21.051. Cooperation With Governmental Entities
This statute is relevant as it allows for cooperation between the state and federal entities, which could include the FAA and DOT regarding aviation matters.

The Texas Department of Transportation is authorized to cooperate with other governmental entities, including the federal government, to carry out its transportation-related functions. This cooperation may extend to aviation safety and consumer protection issues, where coordination with the FAA and DOT is necessary.

Texas Transportation Code - Section 22.001. Aviation Facilities
This statute pertains to the state's role in aviation facilities, which may be relevant to the context of commercial aviation safety and consumer rights.

The Texas Department of Transportation has the authority to acquire, construct, maintain, and operate aviation facilities or to assist political subdivisions in doing so. This could include airports and other facilities that are integral to commercial aviation operations within the state.

Texas Government Code - Section 2001.004. Complaint Procedures
This statute outlines the general complaint procedures for state agencies, which could be relevant for individuals wishing to file complaints about aviation issues at the state level.

State agencies in Texas are required to adopt by rule a procedure to fairly and efficiently resolve complaints made by the public, including complaints about services. While the FAA and DOT primarily handle aviation complaints, this statute ensures that there is a state-level process for addressing grievances that may relate to state-managed aviation services or facilities.

Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code - Section 21.021. Discrimination; Civil Rights
This statute is relevant to the topic of unlawful discriminatory treatment, which may occur in air travel.

Texas law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or ancestry. While the enforcement of these protections in air travel would typically fall under federal jurisdiction, this statute underscores the state's commitment to civil rights, which could be invoked in cases of discrimination related to state-regulated aspects of aviation.

Federal Statutes & Rules

14 CFR Part 382 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel
This regulation is relevant for passengers with disabilities who believe they have been discriminated against by airlines.

14 CFR Part 382 implements the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and prohibits discrimination by airlines on the basis of disability. The regulation requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities, including boarding and deplaning, making aircraft, facilities, and services accessible, and providing effective communication. Airlines must also respond to complaints of discrimination and are subject to enforcement action for noncompliance.

49 U.S.C. § 41712 - Unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition
This statute is relevant for consumers who believe they have been subjected to unfair or deceptive practices by airlines.

49 U.S.C. § 41712 grants the Department of Transportation (DOT) the authority to prohibit and penalize unfair or deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition by airlines. This includes issues such as advertising, pricing, refunds, and other consumer protection matters. The DOT can investigate complaints and take enforcement action against airlines that violate these provisions.

14 CFR Part 259 - Carrier's obligation to passengers in the event of flight delays and cancellations
This regulation is relevant for passengers who experience significant inconveniences due to flight delays or cancellations.

14 CFR Part 259 requires airlines to adopt contingency plans for lengthy tarmac delays and to publish these plans on their websites. Airlines must provide for the essential needs of passengers during such delays, including food, water, restroom facilities, and medical care if needed. The regulation also requires airlines to notify passengers of flight status changes in a timely manner.

14 CFR Part 250 - Oversales
This regulation is relevant for passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding due to overbooking.

14 CFR Part 250 outlines the rights of passengers and the obligations of airlines in situations of oversales, commonly known as 'bumping.' Airlines must request volunteers before involuntarily denying boarding to passengers, and those who are bumped involuntarily are entitled to compensation and must be informed of their rights. The amount of compensation is based on the length of the delay in reaching the passenger's final destination.

14 CFR Part 234 - Airline Service Quality Performance Reports
This regulation is relevant for monitoring the performance and quality of air services provided by airlines.

14 CFR Part 234 requires airlines to file monthly reports with the DOT on their performance in areas such as flight delays, cancellations, mishandled baggage, and overbooking. The DOT uses this data to compile the Air Travel Consumer Report, which is published monthly and helps consumers make informed decisions about air travel.

14 CFR Part 1 - Definitions and Abbreviations
This part provides definitions for terms used in the Federal Aviation Regulations, which is relevant for understanding the context of other regulations.

14 CFR Part 1 contains definitions and abbreviations that apply to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). This part is essential for interpreting the FAR correctly, as it ensures that terms are used consistently throughout the regulations and that their meanings are clear to airlines, passengers, and regulators.