Seen At 11: Travel Complaints May Be Intentionally Hidden On Airlines’ Websites

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– Nearly everyone who flies has experienced travel nightmares. Lost luggage, delays, and cancellations may have some travelers wanting to complain, but are those complaints ever heard?

As CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported, flying can leave passengers at the end of their rope up in the air and on the ground. But if you want to complain, good luck.

Airlines are required to put the U.S. Department of Transportation’s complaint information online, but finding it may be a different story.

“It is extremely difficult, some would say impossible,” said California U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn.

Hahn had her staffers comb airlines’ websites searching for DOT information and found it quite difficult to locate.

“They probably don’t want these complaints. They don’t want to see these complaints, and this is their way of doing it,” she said.

To get the information on American Airlines, for instance, you go to “Travel Information,” then click “Special Assistance,” and then go to something called “The Air Carrier Access Act” before getting to the correct area.

Delta’s is also hidden in the Air Carrier Access Act section for travelers with disabilities.

And it’s a tricky search on Frontier Airline, with the information on its “Boarding and Disembarking” section. A spokesman admitted a customer would “have to do their research” to find it.

CBS2 asked George Hobica of Airfare Watchdog to give it a go. After trying to find the DOT complaint information on six airline websites, he came up empty.

“If you put something on a website and it’s so deeply buried that nobody can find it than really you’re just playing a game,” Hobica said.

Hahn said complaints to the DOT are important because the agency can levy fines and issue new regulations based on patterns of complaints.

“We don’t want airlines to get away with bad behavior,” she said.

Hahn is sponsoring a bill to make the airlines “prominently post” the information, but experts said until then good luck hunting.

“If I can’t find it than I don’t think the average consumer can either,” Hobica added.

The airlines are also supposed to have their own complaint information on their website, but those complaints don’t go to DOT. Another option is to file a complaint on DOT’s own website.

 

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