Airline complaints soar to new heights

EXCLUSIVE: Department of Transportation grievances shatter a 1987 record

Airline complaints are through the roof in 2020, according to exclusive data I’ve obtained.

The number of customer service grievances received by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has soared to 87,556 through July of this year. That shatters a record set back in 1987.

Here’s what it looks like on a chart.


No one outside the DOT has this information, and I’m pretty sure none of my news outlets will publish it because of space constraints. I get it. Who really cares what airline passengers thought of the service back in 1974?

Most of the complaints are related to refunds during the pandemic.

Remember, DOT still has five months of complaint data to report for 2020. We could break the 200,000-complaint level if the situation gets worse.

What this means for you

If you’re waiting for a ticket refund, you’re in good company. So are a lot of other passengers.

If you’ve been on hold for more than a month, consider filing a credit card dispute or contacting my team of consumer advocates. (DIYers, here’s information on how to fix the problem yourself.)

By the way, you can get a refund on a nonrefundable ticket during the COVID-19 pandemic. I wrote a story about that.

Please send me your confidential memos, data and news tips. I’m at