Overview and FAQs: Disputes related to federal transportation

Types of disputes we can resolve

Comparison of dispute resolution services


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

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.

Learn more about facilitation.


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

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

Learn more about mediation.


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

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

Learn more about adjudication.


An arbitrator reviews the facts (or final offers) submitted by the parties. The Agency offers three types of arbitration for certain types of disputes (usually rail).

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

Learn more about arbitration.

Case status

The status of most cases may be checked online, including:

  • Air travel complaints
  • Accessibility complaints
  • Rail and marine complaints

We review each case using the information provided by you and the service provider.

We continue to receive a high number of new air travel complaints.

The wait time between when you submitted your case and when it is reviewed can be more than 18 months. We assure you that the wait time will not affect the outcome of your case review. 

The case status result is the most up-to-date information available about your case.
Please do not resubmit the same complaint.

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 [added] of rail disputes, 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, [added] either in person or in an online meeting. 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/complaint?

No. It doesn’t cost anything to file an application or a complaint 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/complaint 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/complaint?

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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