This summer has seen travelers left stranded at airports all over the world due to flight disruptions. In a survey commissioned by AirHelp, 75% of US travelers confirmed that they feel uninformed by airlines about their rights.
Reinforcing its efforts to help air passengers around the world, AirHelp today launches Passenger Rights Awareness Month. Through this initiative, AirHelp is creating a platform for worldwide travelers to connect with handpicked global experts and consumer advocates to give travelers’ further insights into their rights.
If there is anything that this chaotic summer of travel has shown, it is that passengers will always find it useful to learn about their rights so that they can protect themselves for future trips. AirHelp is opening up its social media channels to travel connoisseurs and passenger rights advocates from all corners of the world to spread their knowledge and experiences to empower travelers globally to exercise their rights. Travelers will have the opportunity to connect with these experts through AirHelp to learn which steps to take when their travel plans go wrong, whether it is due to their flight being delayed or canceled, or if they are denied boarding.
Every year, almost 13 million passengers leave over $6 billion in the hands of the airlines globally. In the US, less than 25% of travelers who were on a disrupted flight actually filed a claim, and travelers from other countries are also leaving compensation unclaimed. As highlighted by AirHelp’s survey, this clearly shows that the implementation of the EC 261 regulation, which covers US travelers in certain circumstances, is not widespread enough.
“It is crystal clear that air passengers still feel powerless against airlines and many miss out on the compensation they’re owed by not filing a claim. And if airlines will not play their part to inform and educate their passengers, we will”, states Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp. He continues: “With the launch of Passenger Rights Awareness Month we hope to push the envelope further in our efforts to inform travelers all over the world about their rights. There is great value in the EU law EC 261 protecting travelers’ rights. In the US, from January through June 2018, 415,800 passengers are owed $292 million in compensation from the airlines, which is nearly 60% more than the same period in 2017. This campaign is part of our tireless work to help travelers get the compensation that is rightfully theirs and support them all along the way.”
Christopher Elliott, consumer advocate and travel journalist, adds, “While all air travelers — including US-based passengers — are protected by international regulations like EC 261 and the Montreal Convention, the sad fact remains that more can be done to help them. The US is far behind other countries in terms of protecting travelers. Current regulations are inadequate and in the current administration, the few rules on the books are not being adequately enforced.”
Charles Leocha, President & Co-Founder of Travelers United, also adds “AirHelp is a gift to consumers who find the compensation landscape difficult to navigate. In Europe it provides a single platform that helps harmed consumers. And, in the USA it does even more. AirHelp educates travelers about rights that are not available within the USA however that US travelers can enjoy when traveling to or through Europe. Travelers United has been working with DOT in the US to make passenger rights clearer, however, mandatory compensation for delayed flights is a foreign concept to US travelers. Seeing these passenger rights in action in Europe will let American travelers know that the system can still operate with strong consumer protections and will allow US passengers to easily navigate the EU process for compensation.”
Flight disruptions: These are the passengers’ rights
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. 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.
Situations deemed as ‘extraordinary circumstances’ like storms or medical emergencies exempt the operating airline from the obligation to compensate passengers. In other words, ‘extraordinary circumstances’ do not qualify for flight compensation.