The majority of travelers using air transportation appear to have little knowledge of their rights, according to a recent survey released by legal experts AirHelp.
According to the study conducted among 2,000 people across the US, 92 percent of American flyers don’t know their air passenger rights with 77 percent not filing a claim despite suffering a disrupted flight thus leaving behind 6 billion dollars worth in unclaimed compensation every year.
The three main reasons some 13 million passengers do not file for compensation annually include: not being aware of their rights (63 percent), thinking they were not eligible for compensation (47 percent), and not knowing how to file a claim (42 percent).
At the same time, 75 percent of all US travelers feel that airlines aren’t telling them enough about their rights. The report reflects the gap in the communication of information despite it being a legal requirement according to EU law, leaving billions of dollars in compensation in the hands of the airlines.
“It is obvious that airline passengers still feel helpless with regard to airlines and most miss out on compensation opportunities by not filing. Last year, passengers were entitled to 7.5 million euros as compensation as stipulated in EU law EC 261 and our findings demonstrate that a large part of this never reaches the beneficiaries,” said AirHelp Country Manager for Greece, Chrysa Pomoni.
“There is a clear need to boost awareness and understanding of passengers’ rights and that is why we created AirHelp five years ago, working so that passengers receive the compensation they are entitled to,” she adds.
According to AirHelp, passengers are eligible for compensation in cases of delayed or canceled flights, and in instances of denied boarding. Disruption must be caused by the airline while reimbursement can reach 700 dollars per person. Compensation may be claimed within three years of the disrupted flight. The departure airport must be within the EU, or the airline carrier must be landing in the EU and headquartered in the EU.
Meanwhile, according to a recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling, airlines are obliged to recompense air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, even if a strike has previously been announced and on condition that the departure airport is within the EU, or that the flight is run by an EU-based carrier. Additionally, the airline should be responsible for the delay. Storms or medical emergencies are exempt.
Earlier this year, AirHelp launched a free app that offers info about flights that are eligible for compensation, and with permission, the tool – available at the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store – can check up to three years ahead. At the same time, affected passengers can also check flight eligibility while at the airport. The app assesses whether a flight problem qualifies for compensation and will then register a claim within seconds.