Latest investigation by an air passenger rights organization reveals United Airlines rejects 40% of claims that have been identified as eligible, and American Airlines and Delta each reject 27% of valid claims. These wrongful rejections directly contradict the European law EC261, which covers passengers on flights that took off in the EU on any airline or that landed in the EU on an airline that is headquartered in the EU.
If a flight has been cancelled, delayed for over three hours, or in an instance of denied boarding, passengers on flights covered under EC 261 would be eligible for financial compensation of up to $700 per person if the cause of the disruption was under the airline’s control. However, many airlines intentionally apply delaying tactics or pay passengers less than what they are entitled to.
For example, in 2018 United Airlines rejected 23% of valid compensation claims, compared to 40% in 2019. This revelation adds to a long list of woes for United passengers after one of the most disruptive years in air travel to date. Due to mass cancellations and delays along with the threat of strikes, airlines left thousands in turmoil across the globe.
The research shows airlines aren’t playing fair, and it is no wonder that 73% of U.S. passengers give up on the compensation they deserve after their initial claim was rejected. The investigation into the reckless claims handling by airlines exposes their blatant attempts to shirk their legal responsibility and reveals how much support passengers need to exercise their rights.
It is wildly unfair for airlines to reject compensation claims as a tactic to avoid giving passengers what is rightfully theirs. On average, airlines have rejected over 30% more claims this year than in 2018. EC261 is in place to empower passengers and to prevent airlines from using smoke and mirrors to trick customers and avoid their legal responsibility.
Of the airlines investigated, Tunisair rejected the highest amount of claims in the first instance (99.9%), followed by Vueling (99.9%) – a 35% increase compared to 2018 – and Ernest Airline (99.9%).
Approximately 169 million passengers have been affected by flight disruptions in the U.S. in 2019, thousands of whom will now be embroiled in legal battles and who are continuing to face an impossible struggle to claim the money they’re entitled to.
If passengers believe their claim has been wrongfully rejected by an airline, they should not give up. Passengers should keep hold of all travel documents as these are crucial if their claim needs to be escalated with legal assistance. Affected travelers should also note that they have three years following a flight disruption to file a claim.