UK passengers are missing out on over £400 million in compensation. Over 1.3 million UK passengers who are entitled to financial compensation from 2015 have yet to claim.
This means that passengers are missing out on anything from £212 (€ 250) for short haul delayed or cancelled flights and up to £510 (€ 600) for long haul flights.
This is according to industry specialists Flight-Delayed.co.uk, who are one of an increasing number of companies that help passengers claim compensation for cancelled and delayed flights.
Flight-Delayed CEO, Tom van Bokhoven, stated that over 32,000 claims have been processed by the company in the first six months of 2016. More than double as the same six months last year and almost more than the whole of last year when the company processed 34.000 claims.
Although passengers are protected by various rights and legislation, some airlines continue to drag their heels when it comes to paying out compensation. Budget airlines seem to specialise in rejecting, denying or simply not responding to passengers claims.
Airlines could do more to assist passengers, they tend to find every possible reason not to pay out compensation and to frustrate the process. This discourages passengers from proceeding with the claim. Many airlines forget that assisting passengers is a crucial part of customer service and will help win passengers over for future flights.Says Tom van Bokhoven.
Since we were one of the first movers in Europe, we have noticed that passengers can often seem to be in a helpless position, due to a lack of knowledge and information. But we have built a strong position against the airlines and have gained a lot of knowledge and experience in how airlines try to avoid paying compensation.
Tricks of the trade
One of the most common ways an airline can prolong a compensation claim is by simply not replying to any correspondence, either from the passenger or a third party representing the passenger. If they do respond they will often attempt to deny the claim due reasons passengers cannot verify such as weather conditions. Something which claims companies can easily investigate and dispute.
Enid Heenk, head of legal for Flight-delayed.co.uk, says,
Airlines will often not respond to our first request, despite us having the explicit power of attorney from our customers to act on their behalf. But we know their tricks and have been successful in over 98% of cases that required court action.
A prominent example of the above are airlines such as Thomson, Monarch and Ryanair, who, in 9 out of 10 cases, do not respond to our first letters which we send on behalf of the customer
Some airlines will happily mis-lead passengers as to what their rights are and what they are entitled to. In the UK, claims are valid for up to six years after the flight date and certain airlines tend to reject claims, declaring them expired, when they are in fact still valid.
General communication with the airlines on behalf of the passenger can be difficult if the airline requests a specific document such as a booking confirmation before proceeding with the claim. If a passenger is unable to produce it then they are forced to incur a charge to replace it. This adds further to what is already a frustrating process for the passenger.
Lack of communication
Many airlines will offer a settlement in the form of travel vouchers, that can only be redeemed with the airline itself. When a cash payment is then requested, some airlines will take in excess of a month to process it. This is an issue often experienced with Thomas Cook.
It is not uncommon for settlements to be paid out in the form of a cheque. This again causes frustration, as there are countless cases where cheques have been sent with the wrong name or to the wrong address. Furthermore, cheques are increasingly becoming outdated and it can lead to a longer waiting time before the passenger receives their compensation.
A prominent example of an airline acting this way is Ryanair. The Irish carrier will send cheques to addresses that have since been updated or to addresses registered in another country to that of the passengers residence.
Mr. van Bokhoven added:
Airlines will avoid paying compensation to their passengers as it simply eats into their profits.
Example: A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 comes with a passenger capacity of approximately 180. A delayed flight from Dublin to Stansted will entitle passengers to € 250 pp. In the unlikely case that all 180 passengers submit a claim for compensation, the airline would be forced to payout € 45,000 in compensation, for one flight alone. According to Flight-Delayed.co.uk merely 11% (19-20) of passengers are aware of their rights and most likely to file a claim. This means the lion's share (€ 40,050) of compensation goes unclaimed and remains in the airline’s pocket.
Written by: Team Flight-Delayed.co.uk