Air Travel Claims Made Easy
Anyone who travels will be faced with these issues….. Delays and Cancellations. There is nothing more frustrating than being in transit and seeing on the display board the dreaded “D” or “C” words. Airlines have been receiving a lot of negative publicity as a result of their overbooking practices where passengers have been routinely bumped from flights at the last minute. I personally have had the experience on my way back from Germany via London where I flew from Frankfurt am Main to London and had to catch a connection from there. Arriving there 4 hours in advance, not out of choice i might add, but rather based on the flight schedule, so I thought this wouldn’t really be an issue.
I checked in for the Frankfurt to Heathrow flight with no problems but then I received a strange message from the check-in machine where it informed me that I needed to contact the check-in desk in Heathrow. I was a little unsettled by this revelation but thought it will be OK as I am 4 hours early for my connection.
Well I think you guessed it, I was oh so very wrong. I approached the counter where I was politely asked to wait….and wait I did. In fact, I did 3.5 hours worth of waiting. At this point I think I had lost my sense of humour but still kept my cool. The check-in attendant politely informed me that the airline had just confirmed that the flight was in fact overbooked and would not be able to catch my connection. Unfortunately I was not the only one to receive this news as the couple that was waiting with me were less than impressed as they were on their way to a funeral the following day and were not as flexible as I was.
At this point in my life, I was still a young professional and had little experience with this type of scenario, so you could imagine my surprise when British Airways put me up in a 5 star Hotel for the night and gave me 450 Pounds Sterling as inconvenience compensation. This I later discovered was a standard practice by airlines to soften the blow to their overbooking, negative publicity problems.
I was ultimately not too upset though, as other than the 3.5 hour wait for being bumped off the flight, this delay till the following day did not really have any major impact on my plans to return home. Infact I saw this as an opportunity to extend my holiday and to enjoy a “free” day in London with some spending money that was completely unexpected and I definitely wasn’t going to pass this opportunity up. And what a day it was…..the sun was shining, the temperatures were warm and I had places to be with money to spend. So overall not a bad way to spend a Saturday in the UK…
Know Your Rights:
According to a survey that was conducted using a sample group of 7,000 (EU) and 2,000(US) travellers, of these 85% of EU and 92% of US travellers did not know what their basic rights were when it comes to delays for air travel. This means that there are potentially millions in unclaimed compensation as a result of passengers just being unaware that they have a right to claim.
There is an overall agreement that Airlines negotiated called the Montreal Convention that governs the rights of travellers when they are subjected to delays or cancellation of flight. After decades of discussions and legislative rulings, the final framework of the agreement was written down and ratified in a single governing document.
There are 6 main types of claims that you as a traveller could potentially submit to the airline:
- Flight Delays Claim
- Flight Cancellations Claim
- Missed Connections Claim
- Overbooking Claim
- Denied Boarding Claim
- Delayed Luggage Claim
The interesting part is that should you have experienced any of these problems within the last 3 years, it is still possible to submit a claim against the airline you flew with. There are some thresholds that apply and by that I mean, if the delay is say for 10 minutes, this claim does not qualify so one needs to be a little practical and realistic when contemplating the submission of a claim.
There are 2 main considerations that are taken into account when calculating the claim value:
- The first one consideration is the time impact on the traveller and;
- The second one is the distance of the flight.
The longer the delay and the longer the flight distance equates to a larger claim compensation value. Delay claims generally start from 3 hours delays and work their way up from there. The claims range from around $250 to a maximum of $600 depending on these factors.
How to Claim:
There is a claim’s procedure that each airline has in place and you can download the form and submit it directly to the Airline themselves. However, this requires you to apply to each airline separately and this can be time-consuming when it comes to really long distance travel where multiple airlines are involved.
I personally tested a website called AirHelp.com. This company specializes in handling travellers claims against the airlines on a global scale. I found the site easy to follow and simple to use without getting bogged down in all the legalities of which airline uses what rules and which jurisdiction they operate in.
What you need:
It important that you keep you boarding passes from you travels to have all the details handy to prove that you were on that flight. The website will ask you to fill out you departure and destination to check you eligibility. If you don’t have your boarding pass, this is not a disaster and your booking confirmation is also proof enough to claim.
A word of caution, never sign any document that the airline gives you to sign that waives your rights to claim. You might feel obliged to sign if they have already compensated you in other ways such as vouchers or hotels but do not sign that document. By doing so, you will be unable to claim any further compensation in the future which will not benefit you in the long run.
This is a 3 step process where:
- The initial eligibility is checked to make sure you claim qualifies to be submitted to the airline
- Additional information of incident are requested such as the reasons for the delay i.e. inclement weather or safety concern
- Finally the website will require you to submit you travel documentation as proof that you were on that flight
Updates and Tracking:
You will receive email confirmations from AirHelp as to the status of you claim however, there is also a way to check in real time the status of you claim on the website itself by logging on and entering the reference number manually. The payouts for claims are then sent to your bank account.
There are no fees upfront so you are not liable for payment if the claim is unsuccessful.
So if you are ever unfortunate to have fallen victim to being delayed, bumped off a flight or have you baggage lost, it is really a good idea to go and try this website out. There is absolutely nothing to lose should your claim be unsuccessful but you have potentially everything to gain should you qualify to be compensated.
Just think, any delay you can think of that happened in the last 3 years could qualify to give you cash back in you pocket. Who knows, that payment could well be the little bump to get you motivated to start planning you next adventure.
Should you have any questions about this product, leave a comment below and I will respond to it as soon as possible.