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Summer airline travel in the U.S. hits new heights

AuthorThe AirHelper

It’s that time of year again. Heat waves are smothering most of the U.S., and many Americans are seeking an escape to faraway lands. Tempers will likely flare at the airports, too, as a record amount of us are expected to fly off into the sunset this summer.

More than 231 million people will take to the skies between June and August this year – 331,000 on internationally-bound flights. That’s a four percent increase from 2015, according to industry trade organization Airlines for America.

If you think four percent is a measly number, think again. That translates to more than 2 million Americans that will descend upon airports across the U.S. every single day this summer. We all know what an influx of people flocking to airports translates into — an increased likelihood of our flights being delayed or canceled.

By the numbers – U.S. Summer stats


Rest assured you’ll find winding security lines, jam-packed terminals and a host of other headaches if you plan to travel this summer. Airlines are dispatching larger aircraft and adding flights to their already overburdened schedules.

While well-intended, that’s often not enough. It can feel as though an airline is holding you back rather than working on your behalf.

This is because nearly 130,000 Americans who were flying solely between the U.S. to Europe last summer had to suffer through a flight cancellation, delay or disruption, according to statistics released by AirHelp. That’s around 864 disrupted flights routed only between the U.S. and the EU last summer.

130,000 people. That’s one out of every 20 Americans. It’s likely you were one of them.

Traveling to Europe? Take heed; you could get cash back

And yet only a small percentage of those passengers are likely aware that they could pocket some money for their troubles. And we’re talking big money, too, around €77.9 million in potential compensation from the airlines.

AirHelp determines the money owed to passengers by airlines using a calculation that averages the claim value per passenger on eligible flights. We’ve done so by creating a proprietary database of individual flight disruptions worldwide that is aggregated using multiple data points. These are sourced by relevant government agencies, airport databanks, flight-tracking vendors, historical resources, commercial data brokers, and more. Historical data cannot be guaranteed due to the multiple reporting methods used by various sources.

The lowdown on the law

The reason travelers bound for the EU are owed this kind of money is because they are protected under a little-known European law, EC Regulation 261 (EC 261). The law states that airline passengers must be financially compensated if their flight is canceled, overbooked, or arrives three hours or more late to its final destination. It is inclusive of all EU-based airlines and on flights backdated up to three years. It takes less than two minutes to see if you’re eligible.

It is very likely that many more could claim some cash this year since Americans favor destinations like France, Germany and the UK. But how is anyone supposed to find out? What you don’t know you can’t help. Airlines aren’t exactly advertising the regulation on their boarding passes. Americans are left in the dark because there is no comparable law that exists in this country.

If you’re among the hundreds of thousands of travelers bound for the EU this summer take solace in that your suffering won’t necessarily be in vain. Check your eligibility to see if you can get back some cash as soon as you can if your flight plans are derailed.

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