Passengers with a flight compensation case pending may be disappointed to learn that the number of claims that are rejected by airlines on wrongful grounds has increased.

Two women sleeping on airport terminal bench due to flight delay
The number of claims that are rejected by airlines on wrongful grounds has increased © izusek/Getty Images

AirHelp, which specialises in air passenger rights, conducted an investigation into claims from 2019 and says that approximately 169m passengers were affected by flight disruptions in the US in 2019. It found that United Airlines rejected 40% of valid compensation claims, up from 23% in 2018, and Delta and American Airlines rejected 27% of valid compensation claims, up from 20% on the previous year. Tunisair rejected the highest amount of claims in the first instance (99.9%), followed by Vueling and Ernest Airline.

People looking at a flight information screen in an airport
Passengers may be entitled to compensation if the cause of the disruption was under the airline’s control © Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Airhelp alleges that many airlines pay passengers less than what they are entitled to or intentionally apply delaying tactics. It says that wrongful rejections directly contradict European law EC261, which covers passengers on flights that took off in the EU on any airline or that landed in the EU on an airline that is headquartered in the EU. If a flight has been cancelled, delayed for over three hours, or in an instance of denied boarding, passengers on flights covered under EC 261 would be eligible for financial compensation of up to $700 (€635) per person if the cause of the disruption was under the airline’s control.

Passengers waiting at an airport in silhouette
Half of all passengers do not trust airlines to handle compensation claims fairly © Blend Images - John Lund/Marc Romanelli

The investigation also found that 73% of US passengers give up on the compensation they deserve after their initial claim was rejected, and 55% do not trust airlines to handle compensation claims fairly. “It is wildly unfair for airlines to reject compensation claims as a tactic to avoid giving passengers what is rightfully theirs,” says Johnny Quach, air passenger rights expert at AirHelp. ““If passengers believe their claim has been wrongfully rejected by an airline, our advice is not to give up. Passengers should keep hold of all travel documents as these are crucial if their claim needs to be escalated with legal assistance. Affected travelers should also note that they have three years following a flight disruption to file a claim.” 

To find out more about Airhelp please visit its website here.

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