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Airlines Owe Passengers Roughly $6 Billion

Airlines Owe Passengers Roughly $6 Billion
Jeff Edwards

A consumer advocacy firm says a lack of understanding about passenger rights means that air travelers in the US may walk away from billions in owed compensation each year.

A survey conducted by Air Help, a firm that assists passengers with claims for compensation following delayed and cancelled flights, has found that travelers from the US are woefully uninformed when it comes to their rights as passengers. According to the study, a full 92 percent of U.S. air travelers admit that they don’t know their rights, especially when traveling overseas. The company says that this ignorance of the rules could be costing air travelers billions of dollars in owed compensation every year.

“Every year, almost 13 million passengers leave over $6 billion in the hands of the airlines that owe them compensation following unpleasant flight disruptions,” Air Help CEO Henrik Zillmer explained in a statement revealing the results of the study. “We are very excited to share the results of this study with passengers, policymakers and airlines, which for the first time, shows incontestable proof of the real need to increase awareness and understanding of air passenger rights.”

The survey found that the vast majority of U.S. passengers flying to or from Europe were unaware that they may be entitled to compensation for flight disruptions under EU rules. According to the study, 77 percent of passengers in the U.S. will never file a claim following a delayed or canceled flight even though they may be entitled to compensation.

Passengers who responded to the survey said there were a number of obstacles stopping them from making claims for compensation following a flight disruption. More than 60 percent of the passengers surveyed said that they did not file for compensation because they were not aware of their rights. Nearly half of those passengers said they did not think that they were eligible for compensation at all and just over 40 percent of total respondents said that they did not know how to even file a claim.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (7)


  1. mrshyt

    March 20, 2018 at 3:36 am

    They need to make the compensation automatic rather than making passengers chase airlines for what they are rightfully owed.

  2. Ca77andra

    March 20, 2018 at 5:26 am

    Nice tease….so how do we file a claim? And where do we find the compensation info?

  3. Blackeyes24

    March 20, 2018 at 5:36 am

    This article would be a lot more helpful if it discussed what situations are entitled to compensation.

  4. CagneyBella

    March 20, 2018 at 9:22 am

    We were delayed last Summer flying back from Rome. I sent an email to Delta while sitting on the plane. They said they would check into it. A few weeks later they said we qualified for being delayed so long and sent us each a check for $333.00.

  5. Counsellor

    March 20, 2018 at 9:30 am

    @Blackeyes24: Check the information at this link:

    It applies to EU and non-EU passengers.

  6. vetrade

    March 20, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Tried for compo from Iberia but they deliberately make it almost impossible to be successful. I tried for months because I was incensed that incompetence by their staff in MUC resulting in a missed connection in MAD and no seats on alternate flights meant an o’nite stay and a missed tour. If you can’t read Spanish you’ll be hard pressed to decipher their web site and even when you are very articulate in sending a claim with all the flight details etc. Iberia take a long time to reply and then give you a reply which has absolutely nothing to do with the claim you lodged or they ask for information you have already sent. I gave up after 6 months.

  7. SamirD

    March 20, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Well, this is interesting to know. I wonder if flights transferring through the EU are eligible. We had a terrible time attending my father-in-law’s funeral in India because the first flight got delayed and set off a domino effect. A 22hr journey turned into 35 and instead of 3 planes we were on 5.

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