Lost or mishandled luggage, broken equipment or overbooked flights are some examples of situations where you may be entitled to some form of compensation from airlines. Bad weather or a missed flight are not. Here’s how and when to seek recourse.
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First, your air travel and compensation rights vary from airline to airline and also country. In Australia, airlines don’t guarantee their timetables. If the delay was due to reasons inside the airline’s control, they will put you on the next available flight or issue a refund. If it was due to factors outside the airline’s control, they may try to help you get to your destination, but that’s it. In America, the US Department of Transportation states that, by law, you are required to be compensated if you’re involuntarily “bumped” from an oversold flight. In Europe, you can get compensation for a cancelled flight or a delay of five hours or more. The Points Guy article also notes that in rarer cases broken equipment, like a faulty seat or the air conditioning nozzle not working, or service that jeopardises passenger safety could be a fair instance to bring up compensation, but far trickier to justify.
Once you think you have a good case, you need to keep all documentation, focus your complaint on the main issue and, obviously, be courteous. As the article notes:
A key to successfully resolving a flight gone bad for any reason is to speak up before ever leaving the airport where either the problem occurred, or where you were first notified of the problem.
When you can’t talk to someone immediately in person, your first course of action should be reaching out to the airline’s social media team. These teams are empowered to help… You can also complain and request compensation via the standard complaint forms which most airlines have available online. Remember to keep it brief, emotion free and state upfront what you think is fair compensation. However, this option should be your last resort, since you’ll likely have better success on the phone, in person or via social media.
You can also file a complaint with the airlines’ consumer affairs department. In the letter, limit it to two pages, include documentation and your contact info, and keep it professional. In every case, you should be clear in what you expect the airline to reasonably do to make amends. Check the article below for more.
How To Get Compensation When Flights Go Wrong [The Points Guy]