Air Travel Claims Made Easy

The Montreal Convention 1999

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. 

 

Claims Possibilities:

 

There are 6 main types of claims that you as a traveller could potentially submit to the airline:

  • Flight Delays ClaimThe Montreal Convention 1999
  • 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:

  1. The first one consideration is the time impact on the traveller and;
  2. 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.

AirHelp

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.

 

The Process:

 

This is a 3 step process where:

  1. The initial eligibility is checked to make sure you claim qualifies to be submitted to the airline
  2. Additional information of incident are requested such as the reasons for the delay i.e. inclement weather or safety concern
  3. 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.

 

Conclusion:

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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20 Responses

  1. Marlinda Davis says:

    Hey there! First of all let me say a big THANK YOU for this information. I do travel a bit and had no idea that I can make these claims. I have to admit that I haven’t experienced a whole lot of delays or lost baggage but both have happened and I had no idea what to do about it. Now thanks to you I know EXACTLY what to do if faced with these issues in my future travels. Definitely bookmarking this page.

    Thanks again!

    Marlinda

    • Richard says:

      Hello Marlinda,

      You are one of the fortunate ones not to have been subjected to this inconvenience too often. The purpose of my site is to arm people with the tips needed to make the process a little easier and in your case, I recon that I have fulfilled this purpose.

      Thanks for your positive comment.

      Rich

  2. Chris says:

    I’ll level with you here – being put in a 5 star Hotel for the night and handed 450 Pounds as inconvenience compensation is a pretty good day’s work! I’m almost at the point where I’d hope my flight was overbooked, just so I could get the compensation! 

    I’m wondering how many people actually know about this compensation, and how many of them have probably missed out on it by completely losing their temper in the airport? (I have seen that happen several times before!). 

    • Richard says:

      Hello Chris,

      I agree with you on that point, I was really treated well by British Airways and like I said in the article, it was an extension to my holiday. Loosing ones temper is never a good idea and definately not a good way of getting what you want. The staff working the counter are not the cause for these delays and outbursts could also land you in hot water with security and permanently bar you from flying.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Rich

  3. Nadia says:

    Hey Richard – I’m one of those unaware individuals! I had no idea that we have the right to claim – I should see if the same applies in South Africa when it comes to delays & over bookings. I had an incident where the airline actually went bankrupt and I had booked tickets long ahead of time. Trying to get the money refunded seemed futile because how does one claim from a company who has no money, right? Luckily I was able to claim directly from my bank as I paid via credit card. I realize that isn’t exactly the same but there are many people in that instance who also didn’t know their rights and who suffered losses. Thank you so much for sharing this – it’s extremely valuable information.

    • Richard says:

      Hello Nadia,

      I am not sure if the claims extend to insolvency as was the case with OneTime but it wont hurt to give it a try. Click on the link in the article and follow the easy steps and you might be pleasantly surprised. 

      In the case of OneTime they were backed by SAA which is also not a solid bet to get money from these days. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2012 which is unfortunately outside of the 3 year window. 

      Thanks for your personal experience and I am glad to hear that the bank was able to refund you for the flight costs.

      Rich

  4. Mary Ann says:

    Hi Richard. This is a very interesting topic. It never occurred to me to make a claim against an airline. A few years ago, my husband and I were flying from Denver and had to catch a connecting flight from Dallas. We missed the connection through no fault of our own and literally watched our plane flying away – we were that close! Do you know if Air Help is for passengers flying in  the US even if we are from Canada (as the missed flight connection occurred within the US)? know the video does mention denied boarding and lost luggage. At this point, I don’t even know where our original boarding passes are as we have travelled a bit since then. This is very good information to know for the future. 

    I am glad, in your case, that you received a little money and was able to enjoy yourself in spite of the inconvenience.

    • Richard says:

      Hello Mary-Ann,

      This site is intended to service all people from across the globe without geographical restrictions. I always found it difficult to claim as I had no idea of where to start. If you have the details of your flight and the delay the click on the AirHelp link in my post and follow the easy steps. Within 5 minutes you will receive a response if you qualify for a claims submission. You have nothing to loose so give it a go. 

      You don’t need the original boarding pass as most people throw these away. If you still have the booking confirmation when you bought the ticket, this is sufficient for your submission. 

      I hope you give it a try and it would be great to hear if you were successful. 

      Rich

  5. abioye olalekan says:

    I must commend you for putting this lovely article together; I have one contacted airhelp sometimes last year when i had a little challenge while travelling. Their customercare line is very active and i was happy i had a wonderful experience.Thank you for sharing this insightful and inspiring articleThis is the demonstration of the rightway to go about travelling by airI look forward to reading your other articles and having success

    • Richard says:

      Its great to hear from people who have successfully used this product.

      Thanks for the positive feedback.

      Rich

  6. Clement says:

    Thank you very much for this wonderful piece of information, you must have put in a while lot of energy in coming up with these post, Am am very much ignorant of my rights to concerning delayed trips and lost baggages,my baggage have been twice misplaced on board and I lost some essential documents that’s was southafrica in 2013.Thanks for providing great insight to this. 

    • Richard says:

      Yeah unfortunately RSA does not always have the best track record when it comes to finding things that have gone missing. I hope you able to apply your rights next time you are in a bind.

      Rich

  7. Vicki says:

    I had a travel problem 2 years ago and we got no compensation at all- It was terrible

    Yes, it was domestic flight however my Son had just finished some heavy duty radiation after brain surgery and he needed to get home and it took the airline 4 hours to sort out a 3 stop flight for him- Unreal!!!

    I wish I had read this then as it would have helped me know my rights and I am sure we would have had a case against them. The reason for the delay was a pilot was sick and they didn’t have another pilot- Go figure in the biggest airport in New Zealand

    I know now though and a great post to help people

    Go well

    • Richard says:

      I am sorry to hear of your bad experience with the Airlines. The main problem is people are largely unaware of their rights and the airlines are under no obligation to inform their customers. I hope this product can assist you with a claim against them

      Rich

  8. Gracen says:

    Wow! This is great news. Who could have thought that there are compensations for flight delays overbooking and the rest. Airlines often frustrate travelers by their carelessness, an example can be seen in their penchant for overbooking. And to think that one can still make claims within 3 years of such incidence. This is a must-read for all travelers, especially those that use flights.  As you were telling your story on how you enjoyed your stay in London with enough bucks, I couldn’t help but visualized how you must have felt. Thanks for sharing this wonderful write-up.

    • Richard says:

      Its great that they give you 3 years to claim as most people are unaware of this product.

      Thanks for leaving a comment.

      Rich

  9. Abagatan says:

    This is very good information for anyone in the world particularly for those who are going on travel. This is my first time to read and know that there is compensation when your travel is delayed, canceled, misconnected, overbooked, boarding denied, and luggage delayed and you can claim amount.

    I think this should be the standard to all airways because it’s not easy to be delayed from an appointment with someone and anyone.

    Thanks for this information.

    • Richard says:

      Unfortunately by making this information freely available will result in a larger amount of claims which will not benefit the airlines. 

      Thanks for leaving as comment. 

      Rich

  10. Dapoach says:

    wonderful!! This is such a wonderful post, i guess am among those who didnt know their right. I never knew i could claim a compensation for flight delays,Overbooking, Missed Connections ,Denied Boarding,etc before getting to read your post. Thanks for recommending “AirHelp”, I will definitely visit the site to know more about their operations.Though i have never fallen victim of being delayed in a flight, but i find this information very useful as i have friends and family members who had experienced this. I would spread this blog across to them to read for themselves also.

    • Richard says:

      Knowing your rights and how to effectively claim is 90% of the battle. 

      Thanks for leaving a positive comment.

      Rich

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