How to File a Claim for Airline Compensation
Have you ever been on a flight that was delayed or canceled? Have you ever been “bumped” or denied boarding on a flight? If so, you could be entitled to airline compensation.
You know all that frustration and helplessness you feel when stranded at the airport? Turns out you’re not helpless at all. In fact, you have a lot more rights than you may realize.
The amount of compensation varies depending on the type of disruption and the route disrupted. But nonetheless, it’s in your power to reclaim the compensation owed to you. Here’s how you can.
How to Know if You Have an Eligible Claim
It’s important to understand that you don’t have to be stuck at the airport right now to be eligible for compensation. If you’ve been on a disrupted flight in the past three years, the airline could owe you money. Unfortunately, that’s where the simplicity ends.
The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14, Aeronautics and Space, Part 250 spells out U.S. traveler’s rights. For flights within the U.S., the only passengers protected are those denied boarding who arrive at their destination over one hour late.
If you’re flying to or from Europe, the law is defined by EC 261 and protects you from delayed, canceled, and overbooked flights.
Check out a full breakdown of both laws here or read on for details:
If you’ve been denied boarding
If you’re denied boarding, the airline could owe you money if you’re flying within the US or to or from Europe:
- If you’ve been denied boarding in the U.S. and your new flight arrives one-two hours late, you may be eligible for 200% of your one-way fare (for a maximum of $650).
- If you’ve been denied boarding in the U.S. and your new flight arrives over two hours late, you may be eligible for 400% of your one-way fare (for a maximum of $1,300).
- If you’ve been denied boarding in Europe, you may be entitled to between €250 and €600 per passenger, as well as a full refund of your confirmed reservation.
If your flight is delayed or canceled
If your flight is delayed or canceled in the U.S., you’re not eligible for compensation unless you choose not to fly (in which case you should get a refund for your flight). However, you may be eligible for compensation if your flight to or from Europe is delayed or canceled.
The only times you’re not eligible for compensation for a delayed or canceled flight to or from Europe are:
- If the disruption was caused by “extraordinary circumstances” beyond the airline’s control
- If the airline notified you of the cancelation at least 14 days in advance.
How to File a Claim for Compensation from An Airline
There are multiple steps to follow when you file a claim for compensation. But before you do anything, it’s very important that you have the items below on hand for every passenger in your claim:
- The details of your trip (flight number, airline, the date and time of the flight)
- Copies of your ID and the flight itinerary
- A reference to the law you’re protected under (either EC 261 or The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14, Aeronautics and Space, Part 250)
1) File a Claim with the Airline
The first thing you should do when filing a claim for compensation for a delayed, canceled, or overbooked flight is to contact your airline. You can do this by calling them, writing to them, or asking a gate agent for the best method to file a complaint.
Keep in mind that the airline you booked with may not be the airline you flew with. If that’s the case, file the complaint with the airline you flew with. And make sure to include all the details listed above to avoid any unnecessary back and forth with the airline.
The potential downside: there are no laws requiring the airlines to get back to you. It could take them months to get back…or they might not get back at all. Try this method first, but understand it may not be the last step you take.
2) Take Your Case to Regulators
If the airline ignores or rejects your claim and you feel that you have a case, then the next step is to take your claim to the regulators. If you’re in the U.S., file a complaint with The Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD). If you’re in Europe or the UK, file a complaint with CAA.
These websites show phone numbers you can call and have online forms to fill out so you can choose whichever method you prefer. Keep in mind that the regulators are on the side of holding airlines accountable, but they are not law enforcement bodies. Therefore, this is not a guaranteed way to get your compensation.
3) Take Your Case to Court
If the first two steps don’t work, then the final step is to take your case to small claims court. First review your passenger rights to ensure you have a strong case before you waste your time or money taking the airline to court.
Even though you’re filing a claim in court, you don’t need a lawyer. Just be prepared with all the details mentioned above and make your case. The most likely cause of a lost case is if the airline proves that the disruption occurred because of an “extraordinary circumstance” beyond their control. Make sure the disruption that happened to you was one that could have been prevented.
How to File a Claim for Compensation with AirHelp
There’s no telling how long and arduous the steps for filing a claim could be – that will vary depending on the airline, the circumstances for the disruption, and the information you provide.
If you want to file a claim without the hassle, file your claim through AirHelp! All you have to do is submit your claim, enter the details of your flight, and sit back and wait while we do the rest. (We’ll even take the airline to court if it comes to that). We only get paid if you do (25% of the claim if the claim is won).
Fight for Your Air Passenger Rights
Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You may be entitled to as much as $680 in compensation if your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked within the last three years.