Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Mon February 22 2016

Law Firms Help Passengers Get Compensation from Airlines After Delays

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | February 22, 2016

Law Firms Help Passengers Get Compensation from Airlines After Delays

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

According to European air travel rules, passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight arrives more than three hours late. There are, of course, allowances for weather delays or other events that are beyond airlines’ control. Passengers can’t simply demand compensation every time there is a snowstorm. 

Sometimes, however, airlines are at fault for a lengthy delay. According to travel law specialists at AirHelp, low cost carriers like easyJet and Ryanair are among the worst culprits. When a flight is delayed for more than three hours and the airline is deemed at fault, they are required to pay between 230 and 540 euros (roughly $250 - $595) in compensation to each passenger. 

Airlines don’t always follow the rules

According to the rules, airlines are required to let passengers know that they are entitled to compensation. However, most do not do this, or they make the process needlessly complex because it is cheaper for them to wait for the issue to go to court so that they can settle there. 

Perhaps the idea is that enough people will consider going to court too much of a hassle and will drop the issue before the claim is paid. If this is indeed the strategy, it makes a lot of sense for airlines. According to the aforementioned specialists at AirHelp, “less than 1 percent of eligible air passengers receive the compensation that is rightfully theirs.”   

READ MORE: Are DOT's Tarmac Delay Fines Actually Making Delays Longer?

Specialty law firms try to help

Now, specialty law firms are starting to offer services that help passengers get compensation from delayed flights. In addition to AirHelp, there is an organization called FairPlane UK that has been advertising heavily on travel agent sites. 

FairPlane representative Daniel Morris admitted that going to court for relatively small sums of money sounds like overkill, but it is necessary: “It sounds ridiculous, but it is the only way we can obtain compensation for passengers within a reasonable time frame. In some cases, airlines have even confirmed in writing that they owe this money, and have agreed a timescale to pay it, but have simply failed to do so. They are simply playing the system.”  

READ MORE: How Much of Your Life Is Spent on Travel Delays?

A new industry? 

FairPlane takes its fees out of the compensation award if the case is successful. Passengers whose claims go unpaid do not owe the firm anything. This arrangement should make it easier for more people to seek help from such groups.   

On the other hand, the specialty firms are making a new and lucrative industry for themselves. They advertise heavily online and have an affiliate program and banner exchange for travel agents. 

The firms are obviously making a handsome profit, considering the number of claimants is in the thousands. However, without help from these lawyers, passengers have to go through a greater hassle to get the airlines to pay out.  


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