Messed-Up Flight? Don’t Settle for a Food Voucher

Photo (cc) by Daquella manera

Flight delayed, canceled or overbooked? You might be owed some money, and we’re not talking about a $20 food voucher.

According to TechCrunch, you could be owed up to $1,300 for an overbooked flight in the U.S. In Europe, delayed, canceled or overbooked flights can mean up to $800 for travelers.

But many people don’t know that they’re owed cash for their messed-up flight. Reuters said:

Indeed, the right of consumers to collect cash from airlines for international as well as domestic flight delays is not well known, says Christopher Elliott, author of “How to be the World’s Smartest Traveler” and ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler. “The rules are obscure, and airlines intentionally keep them that way.”

Even if travelers are aware that they’re owed money, it can be a headache to deal with the airlines and the mountain of paperwork that will follow. Reuters said only about 2 percent of eligible travelers try to claim their refund and many of them aren’t successful.

But that number could go up, thanks to service providers like AirHelp and Refund.me, which work to claim refunds for passengers – for a fee, of course.

Refund.me, which specializes in European flights, charges a 15 percent commission on any compensation paid if clients return the required power of attorney form within 28 days, after which they charge 25 percent. AirHelp takes a 25 percent cut of any compensation received.

AirHelp CMO Nicolas Michaelsen told TechCrunch:

If passengers try and claim themselves, they’ll have to send tons of documents, they’ll experience dead links. And if you get through that hurdle, you’re likely to be rejected by the airline saying that it’s an extraordinary circumstance. We auto-generate the legal documents that you should send to the airline.

According to Reuters, eligible travelers could receive the following compensation from airlines:

  • European flight delay or cancellation. You’re eligible for up to $825 if a flight is delayed three or more hours or canceled. Michaelsen said the average payout is $600.
  • Bumped from an oversold U.S. flight. You could receive up to 200 percent of the one-way ticket price, up to $650, if you can’t get to your destination within an hour of your scheduled time. If you’re delayed for two hours or more, you could collect up to 400 percent of the cost of the one-way ticket, up to $1,300.

There is a caveat. If you’re like most people and you accept a voucher from the airline, then you are not eligible for a cash payment.

Were you aware that you could be eligible to receive cash from an airline for overbooking or other delays? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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