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The old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the grease rings true for the traveler, too. Not only are you more likely to get satisfaction, you may be healthier and happier, too.

"Often when we are dissatisfied, we feel it's useless to complain, and we continue to feel angry and helpless," says Carol Madison, clinical social worker with the Mental Health Association of Greater Dallas. "However, taking control of our circumstances and expressing our feelings appropriately and assertively results in a sense of empowerment and accomplishment."Complaining about a travel experience can be constructive if you follow a basic process:

- Choose your battles. First, decide whether you have a legitimate complaint. If your flight is delayed on the runway after you've boarded, there's probably nothing the flight attendant can do. But if the television is on the fritz in your hotel room, the hotel will usually attend to the problem or offer you some form of compensation.

- Direct your complaint. Find the right person to hear your gripe. If your flight is delayed before you board, for example, perhaps the ticket agent can change your travel itinerary.

- Discuss and negotiate. Be clear about what you expect but remain flexible in your demands. If the airline can't re-route you immediately, it may be able to make your wait more comfortable by providing access to the airline's hospitality lounge.

If you're still wondering whether it's worth the effort to complain, keep in mind that most service industry companies want to hear your complaints.

"We encourage our guests to speak up and say what's on their minds - even if it involves complaining," says Ray Schultz, president of the Hampton Inn hotel chain which recently implemented an unconditional customer satisfaction guarantee.