7 Tips for Getting Compensated After a Travel Problem

Photo (cc) by WaveBreaker

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…

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
9 Free Things That Used to Cost Us Money
9 Free Things That Used to Cost Us Money

Not everything is getting more expensive.

Should You Hire a Service to Negotiate Your Cable and Other Bills?
Should You Hire a Service to Negotiate Your Cable and Other Bills?

Services like BillCutterz and BillFixers will negotiate your cable, internet, phone and other monthly bills in exchange for a share of the savings. I tried it: Here’s what happened.

How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes
How to Fix 6 Common Retirement Mistakes

Here’s how to strengthen your nest egg before or even during your golden years so these missteps don’t ruin your retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Surveys For Money Sites To Get Paid For Your Opinion
5 Surveys For Money Sites To Get Paid For Your Opinion

Yes, you can earn extra cash by taking online surveys. But some websites are better than others for this. Here are a few of our favorites.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

11 Things You Should Never Buy Without a Coupon
11 Things You Should Never Buy Without a Coupon

With just a little planning, you can save money on numerous everyday purchases.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.