Select your state


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:

• 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 For additional information, copy this URL 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:

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.

Legal articles related to this topic