7 Tips for Getting Compensated After a Travel Problem

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Ways to Avoid a Money PitGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

20 Tips for Buying a Home in the Best Location, Location, LocationGrow

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

Marijuana Stocks Flaming Out Under TrumpFamily

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

The squeaky wheel might get the grease, but the calm complainer gets compensated with free miles or even money.

Recently, a Money Talks News reader told me she received 15,000 extra miles shortly after completing a 1,200-mile flight. She’d gotten them at my suggestion by writing a three-sentence email to the carrier, detailing her dissatisfaction with the flight. She promptly received the miles from the airline as a gesture of good will.

Travel was once an experience to be savored, but these days it’s too often an ordeal. For example, while airlines can’t control the weather, they often fail to effectively communicate delays – or to otherwise treat their customers with respect.

When a trip goes wrong, travelers often feel like writing a harsh letter to the airline, hotel, or rental car agency. While mistreated customers do deserve compensation, there’s a right way and a wrong way to express dissatisfaction. The correct letter will result in a reply with some form of compensation, while the wrong message will only receive a generic response – and no gesture of good will.

Here’s the right way to complain…

  1. Try resolving the problem onsite. Some travel service providers have managers who actually care about your satisfaction. If you’re unhappy with your hotel room or your rental car experience, find a manager and tell him or her that you’re dissatisfied. Not surprisingly, this tactic is less effective with airlines.
  2. Be brief. When it comes to written correspondence, always put yourself in the shoes of the reader. How would you feel about spending all day reading long letters that begin, “I was traveling to Spokane to visit my Aunt Martha on her birthday last Thursday….?”  Trim it down to a paragraph that begins along the lines of, “I boarded Flight 179 from Minneapolis to Spokane on October 17.” Sticking to the facts will allow the reader to quickly determine the core issue, saving your time and theirs.
  3. Be polite. It’s understandable that people get emotionally charged during travel delays and disappointments. Once you return home and collect yourself, compose a professional correspondence describing the service failures you experienced – and that were within the company’s control. Refrain from sarcasm, profanities, and personal insults.
  4. Document the problem. Travel companies can be inundated with tales of woe from everyone who feels that they weren’t treated like royalty. Naturally, they’re skeptical of extraordinary claims. Therefore, if your carpet was soiled in your hotel room, take a picture of it with your phone and include it in your email. If you have the names of the employees you spoke with during your travels, include that as well. Of course, always try to include as many ticket numbers and confirmation codes as you can, as well as your loyalty program account information.
  5. When demanding cash, be specific. In most cases, companies will only compensate you with their points, miles, or perhaps a voucher for future use. Personally, if that’s all I expect for the transgression, I treat it as a gift and ask for bonus miles. On the other hand, if I feel I’m due a refund or a cash reimbursement, I’m always careful to detail specific charges. If you incurred additional travel expenses as a result of a mistake that was entirely within the control of the company, include a copy of those receipts as well.
  6. Offer loyalty, not threats. So many travelers write to airlines, hotels, or rental car companies insisting that their experience was so bad, they’ll never use their services again. If you do that, many of these companies will take you at your word – and not bother to offer you compensation. Instead, briefly remind them of your loyalty and the travel decisions of others that you have influence over, such as family or coworkers whom you book travel for. Express your dissatisfaction and thank them for looking into this matter. They will get the idea.
  7. Pay a compliment every now and then. Travel experiences can go horribly wrong, but there are still many people out there working very hard to get you safely where you’re going – and take care of you when you get there. When you meet employees who go above and beyond, tell their managers. Not only is it the right thing to do, but companies occasionally throw a few points or miles your way just for being a good customer and giving them feedback.

By effectively alerting travel companies about actual service failures, and successes, you are actually helping them to improve their quality. Should the airline, hotel, or rental card company choose to compensate you, so much the better. Otherwise, you know where not to take your business in the future.

And here are some ways to avoid travel problems before they happen…

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 7 Things Worth Paying More For

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,009 more deals!