The vast majority of flights go without a hitch, but for that flight that does end up delayed, cancelled or overbooked, passengers may well be entitled to compensation.
That is the thinking behind the AirHelp App which promises refunds of up to €600 if something goes wrong on your airline journey.
Operating on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, the service says it will fight your case and get you any compensation to which you are entitled.
According to the company’s figures, 98% of people entitled to a refund on their flight never actually go to the trouble of looking for their money back.
The money lost is potentially enormous with up to €11 billion having gone unclaimed in the European Union over recent years.
It is estimated that up to US$450 million also goes unclaimed for overbooked flights in the US each year with another US$2.1 billion missed out on annually by US travellers to the UK and Europe for delayed and cancelled flights.
AirHelp said: ‘Air passenger rights weren’t made for airlines to interpret on a whim … [and] our job is to hold airlines to their financial obligations.’
Not all claims are successful and if a flight is cancelled because of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ like severely adverse weather or industrial action, claims are highly unlikely to be successful.
However, a bright spot for frequent fliers is that claims can be made retrospectively so if you had forgotten to look for money back on a flight from several years ago, the door may not yet be closed on compensation.
The company believes the fear of an endless string of phone calls to an airline puts most people off making claims for travel disruption.
Through the app, passengers need only answer five questions, which will give them an answer on whether their flight is eligible for compensation.
Users can then decide whether to pursue the claim themselves or pass it on to AirHelp, who charge a 25% commission on successful cases. ‘If the claim isn’t successful, users don’t pay anything so there is no risk,’ they said.