Complaint to the airline
Contact the airline responsible for the flight (the airline operating the flight) for information about your rights and procedures in case of a problem or refer to the company’s website for instructions. In many cases, airlines have a separate complaint form on their website, for example concerning cancellations of flights. In this case, use the form to submit a complaint.
If the matter is not resolved on the spot, file a written complaint with the airline responsible for the flight, i.e., the airline operating the flight, as soon as possible. Indicate the identity of the flight, i.e., the date and/or flight number, that is the subject of the complaint, e.g., a cancelled or delayed flight. Present a clear claim for compensation in euros. You can use our sample letters if you wish.
Also attach copies of your ticket and of the costs of meals and similar services to your complaint. Do not send any original documents.
For a foreign airline, check the language of the company’s customer service. Most European airlines cannot deal with complaints in Finnish or Swedish. The safest thing is to file a complaint in English.
Save a copy of your complaint. If you submit a complaint by using the airline’s complaint form, save a copy for yourself.
Allow the airline a response time of several weeks, approximately six weeks.
If you have not received a reply within 6 weeks, please contact the European Consumer Centre in case of a foreign airline. For a domestic airline, you will receive assistance and advice from Consumer Advisory Services.
If the airline refuses standard compensation and invokes exceptional circumstances, you can refer your case to the national enforcement body (NEB) pursuant to regulation EC 261/2004 in the member state where the cancellation took place.
If the airline refuses standard compensation, you can refer your case to the supervisory authority under regulation EC 261/2004 in the member state where access to the flight was refused.
If a flight arrived from outside the EU and is carried out by an EU airline, the competent supervisory authority is in the member state of the destination of the flight. Please note, however, that most supervisory authorities have only the possibility to require an airline to change its compensation policy if the provisions of the regulation have not been complied with and, if necessary, impose a fine on the airline for infringements. Some supervisory authorities also comment on an individual consumer’s claim for compensation. This is the case not only in Finland, but also in Latvia, Spain and Sweden. If you wish to refer your case to a supervisory authority, you can find the complaint form here and the contact details of the supervisory authorities here.
How to contact an airline and a flight broker
Extremely few airline carriers and brokers provide consumers with an e-mail address, but sometimes they have one available. It may be found, for example, in the terms and conditions of the company.
Our experience shows that the best way to file a complaint is through the intermediaries’/airlines’ own website, i.e., using the contact form found on the company’s website. Often there is a section at the bottom of the website that reads, for example, “Help and contact”. Once you have opened it, you often have to click a few questions before you can submit a complaint.
It is a good idea to have the booking numbers and other information about the flight handy, as they are needed when making a complaint. Most companies will provide an automatic reply immediately after sending the form, including the case processing number. Sometimes it will also contain an estimate of the response time. It is a good idea to keep the automatic answer. It is also a good idea to keep a copy of your own complaint.
Unfortunately, most airlines or intermediaries outside Finland do not have customer service in Finnish, so it is best to file a complaint in English. Free translation tools available online can be used if necessary. The grammar of the English does not have to be perfect as long as you communicate your issue.
If the answer later arrives from an address that starts with “no reply”, it means that you cannot reply to that e-mail. If you need to further write about your case and the message received does not contain instructions on how to respond, make contact through the company’s website again. In this case, it is a good idea to include the previously received case number – this will speed up the processing of the matter.
Keep your boarding pass
The boarding pass usually identifies the airline that actually carries out the flight. This is, the flying airline can be different from the one in whose name the ticket was purchased. Alternatively, the operating airline appears on the e-ticket. This information is relevant, in particular, when something is happens on the flight that later needs to be investigated with the airline. The party to be contacted is the airline that actually flew the flight.
In particular, it is necessary to keep the boarding pass if the flight is delayed or cancelled, boarding is denied or luggage problems are encountered when arriving at the destination.
Many European airlines nowadays require a copy of the boarding pass as evidence of being on the flight in connection with the handling of a complaint. Similarly, we at the European Consumer Centre, as a general rule, need a copy of it when reconciling the consumer’s claim for compensation for air travel.
Therefore, do not dispose of your boarding pass while travelling, and when you do decide to get rid of it, make sure that your information does not end up in the wrong hands.