I had an extremely bad travel experience with an airline last night, which I will name… SILK AIR (aka Singapore Airlines) coming back from a relaxing weekend away, which then turned into a not so relaxing one.
As a result I have sent off multiple letters/emails to the airline, posted the story on skytrax and other such airline review websites and am just planning my next move on what to do. Which got me thinking… what, when and how is the best place to complain if you are in a bad travel situation through no fault of your own.
Golden Rule – Talk to the person in charge
Don’t waste your time and effort on arguing with someone who has no power to help you, or solve the problem. Insist on speaking to a manager or supervisor.
Airlines: Gate-agent supervisor
Hotels: General manager or director of sales
Car rentals: Location supervisor or manager
Up it one level and follow up
If you don’t get results on-site, follow up in writing, including all names, documentation and photos.
Airlines: For service complaints, the individual airline’s customer-service manager (you’ll have to call the airline to get this name), and your local in-country Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division.
Hotels: Director of public relations or head of sales and marketing, and send a copy to the general manager
Car Rentals: The chain or franchise corporate-relations manager or director of sales
Make your complaint immediately, while you’re still at the hotel or on the plane. It’s generally more effective to talk to someone in person than to call an 800 number a few weeks later and speak with a customer service agent who wasn’t in any way involved with the incident
Know your rights – check your airline or hotel booking conditions
Be specific, focused, and fair when resolving problems
Know how you would like to see the situation resolved. Stay focused, and reiterate your specific demands if the conversation veers away from the problem at hand.
Of course if you have booked a 3 star hotel, don’t expect a 5 star room, be reasonable with your asks.
Use the power of social media.
More people are using facebook, twitter etc to report “live-time” problems as they happen and this can get you a speedier response from an airline or hotel.
Read reviews from fellow travelers – tripadvisor.com is always good (pluschild.com is another one launching soon), and look at industry rankings. Below are the international airlines that get the most complaints –
And if all else fails, go to the bar!