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What To Do If Your Airline Refuses to Compensate You for a Disrupted Flight

AuthorAda Kozłowska

What’s more frustrating than a disrupted flight? The airline refusing to pay the compensation they owe you for your disrupted flight.

According to air passenger laws, airlines are required to pay compensation for certain types of flight disruptions. But they’re not exactly shouting this from the rooftops. Few passengers realize they’re entitled to compensation and even fewer (less than 2%!) actually claim it. 

And for those who do attempt to claim their compensation, they can sometimes be denied due to “extraordinary circumstances.”

…Okay, so sometimes getting your compensation isn’t as easy as it should be. 

But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost if you feel like you’ve been put through the wringer!

If you’ve experienced a flight disruption and the airline refuses to pay compensation, you may still have a chance to get paid for the inconvenience. Read on to find out what to do.

Find Out Why Your Flight Was Disrupted

When your claim was denied, the airline should have given you a reason. Chances are, the reason they gave was that the flight disruption was caused by “extraordinary circumstances” that they couldn’t have prevented.

Extraordinary circumstances came about for legitimate reasons. Sometimes there really is nothing an airline can do to prevent a flight disruption. For example: cases of bad weather or political unrest. 

The problem is, sometimes an airline will say this is the reason for the disruption when in fact they could have prevented it. That’s why it’s so important to find out the exact reason your flight was disrupted. In other words, a reason more specific than “extraordinary circumstances beyond our control.” 

Not sure how to find out? Contact your airline and don’t rest until you get a reason more specific than “extraordinary circumstances”.

Review Airlines Passenger Laws

Once you know the reason for your flight disruption, the next thing you’ll want to do is review the law as it stands in the place you flew to or from*. Airline passenger laws vary from continent to continent so this is an important step.

*Keep in mind that you don’t need to be a resident of said location in order to be eligible for compensation under their laws. You need only to have traveled in their airspace.

Airline laws regarding flights within the U.S.

The only time you’re eligible for compensation within the U.S. is if your flight was overbooked, you were then involuntarily denied boarding, and the next flight the airline put you on got you to your destination more than one hour late. 

However, if you voluntarily accept a voucher to take a later flight, you are effectively forfeiting your reserved seat and therefore are not entitled to compensation. You must be involuntarily denied boarding to be eligible for compensation.

How much might you be eligible for under this circumstance? Review the chart below:

Compensation Table - US 

Airline laws regarding flights to or from Europe

If you’re flying to or from Europe, you have a lot more rights for compensation for disrupted flights. Here’s how they break down:

Compensation Table - Europe

What this chart means is that flights to or from countries within Europe are entitled to compensation if they are overbooked, delayed, or canceled and cause you to arrive at your destination more than three hours late.

This type of disruption is not eligible for compensation is if the disruption was caused by an extraordinary circumstance beyond the airline’s control – or if there was a cancellation that the airline notified you of at least 14 days in advance of your flight.

Do You Think You Were Wrongfully Denied? Keep Up the Fight!

After reviewing the laws above, where does your flight stand? If you think you’ve been wrongfully denied your compensation, here’s what you can do next:

Take the airline to court

If the airline has denied your compensation, the next step is to take them to court. There are lawyers that specialize in air passenger rights that may be happy to help you with your case. You never know, you could win your compensation and help set precedence for other air passengers at the same time!

Or Let AirHelp fight for you

If the idea of taking the airline to court on your own feels daunting, then let AirHelp do the work for you! AirHelp will go through the normal claims process and, if you’re denied again, will potentially take the airline to court for you. What’s the best part of this process? AirHelp doesn’t get paid unless you do – so you lose nothing by trying. 

If you do go through AirHelp, make sure to let your claims specialist know the details of the process you’ve already gone through with your airline. The more we know, the better we can help you!

*Note: your claim will not be eligible if you’ve already accepted another form of compensation from the airline. 

Don’t Forget About Past Flights

If you try all of this and are still denied compensation, don’t forget that airlines are required to pay compensation for eligible flights from up to three years ago. 

That means there could be eligible flight disruptions in your past that you’ve already forgotten about. It might not be too late to claim compensation for them! Try the AirHelp scanner to find out. Again, you lose nothing by trying.

Beautiful Sky

Never Stop Fighting for Your Rights

Air passenger laws are changing all the time, which is why you should never stop fighting for your rights. Remember, when you purchase a plane ticket, you’re entering into a contract with the airline and they’re required to provide the service you’re paying for.

So, the next time you’re stuck at the gate for an indeterminate amount of time, don’t lose hope. The more air passengers fight for their rights, the more the laws will turn in our favor! 

Image Credits: Anna & Michal, Dominik Schröder

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