Analysis from AirHelp, a company that (for a fee) helps people get refunds and compensation from airlines following disrupted flights, says airlines already owe an estimated $290 million for delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights this year. The data refers specifically to U.S. travelers onboard flights operating under European Union jurisdiction.
According to AirHelp, “an estimated 415,800 US passengers have experienced a delayed, cancelled or overbooked flight throughout the first six months of 2018 … The number of US passengers entitled to compensation, as well as the amount US passengers are owed, have both increased by nearly 60% compared to last year.”
AirHelp says approximately 260,000 experienced these issues during the same period last year. The company cites overwhelmed airports and a deepening shortage of pilots as reasons for these disruptions. Both factors could continue to drive delays and cancellations for months to come.
Money on the Table
The gist of AirHelp’s message is simple: There’s a lot of money out there that travelers may or may not realize they’re owed. EU law is particularly generous.
“For delayed or canceled flights, and in instances of denied boarding, passengers may be entitled to financial compensation of up to $700 per person in certain circumstances,” AirHelp points out. “The conditions for this stipulate that the departure airport must be within the EU, or the airline carrier must be based in the EU and landing in the EU. What’s more, the reason for the flight delay must be caused by the airline. Compensation may be claimed within three years of the disrupted flight.”
Out of Luck in the U.S.
The U.S. has far less comprehensive rules. The Department of Transportation does not mandate compensation minimums for delayed or cancelled flights, but according to the DOT, “In the case of cancelled flights you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation – even for non-refundable tickets.”
We have a helpful roundup of your full rights as a traveler.
Readers, have you ever sought compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight under EU law? Have you ever tried to get a refund here in the U.S.? Share your experience below.
More from SmarterTravel:
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