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Apps Help Bumped Fliers Get Reimbursed

By Author: www.cheapfares.com
Total Articles: 1445

Cheap travel options, such as cheap airplane tickets, cheap fares, discount hotel rooms, cheap auto rentals, discount travel deals, and cheap vacation packages are encouraging more people than ever to travel. Unfortunately given how full planes are flying these days, passengers sometimes get bumped off flights.

Getting compensation from an airline for a flight departing from or originating in Europe that is delayed, canceled or overbooked, is sometimes difficult.

As a result there are several online companies, including AirHelp, EUclaim, and refund.me that help European travelers file claims under regulations that apply to flights to or from a European Union member country. These companies charge a fee ranging from 15 to 27 percent of the recovered funds, including in some cases charging a handling fee.

AirHelp has started offering its services to U.S. fliers online through a free app. This company has found that many passengers are unaware of the compensation they are entitled to and are eligible for a lot more compensation than they are receiving.

Each year an average of $450 million in potential compensation is owed to passengers involuntarily bumped on overbooked U.S. flights under U.S. Department of Transportation rules and as much as $2.1 billion in potential claims is owed to U.S. air passengers flying to, from, or with Europe on EU carriers, according to AirHelp.

However because fliers do not fully understand the rules and airlines do not go out of their way to inform customers of their rights only a very small percent of the compensation owed to passengers ends up being claimed or paid.

Under U.S. regulations, bumped passengers are entitled to be compensated equal to double the price of their tickets up to $650 if delayed one or two hours from their originally scheduled arrival time for domestic flights, or one to four hours for international flights. Those facing longer delays, over two hours after their originally scheduled arrival times for domestic flights and over four hours for international flights, are eligible to receive as much as four times the value of their tickets, up to a max of $1,300.

When faced with an overbooked situation, airlines are required to first ask people to give up their seats voluntarily in exchange for compensation. Airlines are allowed to decide whether to offer cash, travel vouchers, meals, and/or lodging. Today far more fliers volunteer to give up their seats than get bumped.

In 2013 about 57,000 passengers were bumped (0.92 percent of all fliers) from domestic flights while over 450,000 passengers agreed to take another flight in exchange for compensation.

Most volunteers accept travel vouchers values significantly below the amounts airlines are required to pay involuntarily bumped passengers. Given that only about 15 percent of these vouchers ever get redeemed, this is a great deal for the airlines.

Experts believe that if passengers understood the bumping rules better, they might not be so willing to give up their seats for airline vouchers.
Compensation for a delayed, canceled, or overbooked flight could be up to about $825 per passenger, plus meals, phone calls, and hotel stays, for passengers traveling to or from Europe on an EU carrier, or on a carrier from non-EU members Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, according to AirHelp. Exemptions are allowed when an airline can prove the delay was caused by things outside the airline’s control, such as bad weather.

AirHelp’s new app for U.S. travelers helps them determine if they are eligible for compensation and for those who do not want to pursue a claim on their own, offers to process the claim and go to court if necessary for a 25 percent contingency fee that is payable only if a claim is successful.

While a 25 percent fee for successfully filing a claim is considered excessive by some, it is still a good deal for travelers who would otherwise never get around to filing a claim. The reality is that fliers should be able to get compensation on their own if they are willing to be persistent and not only file an initial claim, but follow up on the status of that claim as needed.

Given that airlines tend to take advantage of passengers’ ignorance, AirHelp’s new bumping app is providing a real service, whether the company ultimately handles the filling of the claim.

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