Overview and FAQs: Disputes related to federal transportation

Comparison of dispute resolution services

  Facilitation Mediation Arbitration Adjudication

An Agency case officer assesses the issue and leads an informal exchange between the parties, usually by phone or email.

Learn more about facilitation.

An Agency mediator helps parties resolve their differences through negotiation (face-to-face or by teleconference).

Learn more about mediation.

An arbitrator reviews the facts (or final offers) submitted by the parties.

The Agency offers three types of arbitration for certain types of disputes.

A panel of one or more Agency Members will consider the written arguments and evidence from each party.

Learn more about adjudication.

Possible outcome

Air travel complaints: The case officer facilitates a settlement that respects the carrier's legal obligations. 

Other complaints: The case officer works with the parties to develop a mutually satisfactory solution.

The mediator helps the parties reach a confidential settlement agreement that can be filed with, and enforced by, the Agency.

The arbitrator makes a legally binding, confidential decision to settle the dispute.

A panel of one or more Agency Members issues a decision that is legally binding on the parties and made public.

(once a complete application is received)

65 business days for passenger air travel disputes.

20 business days for other disputes.

20 business days (when no extension requested).

30 to 65 days, depending on the type of arbitration.

85 business days.

For complex cases, 65 business days after close of pleadings.

Please note that we have received a high number of complaints. We process each complaint as quickly as possible, based on its merit, impartially and in a rigorous manner. Once your case has been reviewed, you will be notified. 

Frequently asked questions

How does the Agency resolve disputes?

In most cases, we try to resolve your complaint through facilitation or mediation first.

The Agency is always neutral when resolving disputes – we don’t represent you or the other party.

Do I have to show up in person?

In most cases, no.

For facilitation, disputes are resolved through an informal exchange between the parties, usually by phone or email.

For mediation, parties settle their differences through negotiation (face-to-face or by teleconference).

For arbitration, parties must appear in person before the arbitrator.

For adjudication, a panel of one or more Members will make a decision based on the arguments of the parties, the evidence that’s been filed, as well as the legislation, regulations and legal principles that apply to the matter.  In some cases, the Agency may hold an oral hearing. This allows the panel to cross-examine the parties and hear expert evidence. Hearings are normally open to the public. 

Are there any costs or fees to file an application?

No. It doesn’t cost anything to file an application with the Agency.

Some processes may have costs. For example, for arbitration, the parties can choose to pay for an external arbitrator instead of using an Agency arbitrator.

For adjudication, the Agency may award costs.  As a general rule, costs are awarded only in exceptional circumstances.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. You may, of course, hire or consult a lawyer if you wish.

You can also have a friend or a family member represent you. In this case, you need to complete and sign an authorization of representative form.

Can I file an application on behalf of someone else?

Yes, as long as you have their consent. The person that you are representing needs to complete and sign an authorization of representative form.

Parents/legal guardians do not require authorization to act on behalf of their minor children.

People acting under a power of attorney must provide a copy of the power of attorney instead.

Are there time limits for filing an application?

You should act upon your complaint as soon as possible.

This will help you:

  • establish your case (which may be more difficult after time has passed);
  • ensure that any witnesses or records are available; and
  • meet any statutory deadlines for obtaining remedies or relief from the Agency.
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