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WooHoo! Independent Report Says AirHelp Helps Enforce Air Passenger Rights

By Alice Mariscotti-Wyatt | Last updated on

Group of friends celebrating

What are you celebrating?

Above all, AirHelp exists to help air passengers, so we’re always delighted when we get a confirmation of the positive impact we’re making. Since 2013, we’ve been striving to enforce air passenger rights. And now a special report by the European Court of Auditors just revealed we do exactly that.

It’s a nice pat on the back for a company like us. It shows us that the work we’re doing is worth it, and gives us extra reason to keep fighting for air passengers.

OK, and this report said what exactly…?

The report was titled “EU passenger rights are comprehensive, but passengers still need to fight for them”. It is an independent and extensive audit with all kinds of technical stuff in it. The 35-page document is a general evaluation of all passenger rights in Europe.

The report makes many points about the situation of Air Passenger Rights in Europe which we fully agree with:

  • The EU benefits from a well developed system of passenger rights
  • There are some problems in the EU system of air passenger rights – but these stem from the lack of awareness among travellers and issues with enforcement.
  • A previous proposal to reduce the costs to the airlines and increase waiting times from 3 to 5 hours was misguided. That was because it was made based on limited data made available by the airlines.

Amidst all that, the report notes that companies like AirHelp play an important role in the enforcement of air passenger rights.

AirHelp's Chief Legal Officer at the stakeholder roundtable debate organised to present the European Court of Auditors report in Brussels.
AirHelp’s Chief Legal Officer at the stakeholder roundtable debate organised to present the European Court of Auditors report in Brussels.

So they say that AirHelp is doing a good job?

Well, they don’t mention us by name or anything. But they do say that “Claim agencies and Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies are filling the enforcement gaps left by the NEBs” (NEBs are National Enforcement Bodies)

So they do specifically refer to claim agencies. Given that AirHelp is the biggest and most successful of those claim agencies, we think we can take some credit.

OK, so how exactly do claim agencies help?

We’re glad you asked. Here’s what we’re doing to improve air passenger rights:

1. We enforce the law.

It’s hard for individuals to hold airlines to account. Airlines are typically large organisations employing plenty of lawyers. Most people don’t have the resources to take them on – they aren’t familiar with the law and they don’t have the budget.

The writers of the report carried out a survey which backs this up conclusively. They found 20% of passengers took no action following a travel disruption. When they were asked why, 41.7% said it was because they were unlikely to get a satisfactory response.

A company like AirHelp levels the playing field for passengers. We’re not afraid to we take airlines to court. So we can ensure that the laws set out by EC 261 are enforced.

The report even outlines cases where passengers were ignored and refused by the airlines – until they enlisted a claim agency, who were able to help the passengers successfully enforce their rights.

View from a plane window
Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

2. We raise awareness.

Although EC 261 makes clear that airlines must inform passengers of their rights, there’s a clear financial disincentive for them – it’s only going to lead to them paying out more claims.

But an independent service like AirHelp wants more and more people to be aware of their rights. We are driven to do this vital job of publicising the compensation that’s available. Then it’s up to customers whether they want to use our service or claim independently.

3. We encourage airlines to improve their service.

You might expect us to hate airlines, but that’s not the case. We just want them to do better.

It looks like we are helping there too. Another recent paper, this one by the College of Europe, found that claim agencies like AirHelp, alongside the regulation EC 261, are effective in reducing airline flight delays.

We’ll call out airlines over decisions that aren’t in passengers’ interests. That’s why we exist after all.
But it doesn’t stop there. We absolutely love to promote and celebrate airlines that are treating their customers well. Just check out our annual AirHelp score where we applaud the airlines that are really looking after their passengers.

 

Want to know more? You can read the full report by the European Court of Auditors here.

 

Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You may be entitled to a much as $700 in compensation. If your flight was delayed, canceled, or overbooked within the last three years.