In the event of a disrupted flight, the passenger should theoretically receive information about the right to compensation. So much for the theory. Here’s an example of what often happens in practice.
The end of January 2019. A group of over 200 passengers returns on a charter flight from World Youth Day, travelling from Panama City to Warsaw. At the airport in Panama they are informed that their aircraft had a stopover in the United States and then got stuck there due to bad weather. The initial delay is a few hours. When the Dreamliner finally arrives at the airport and the passengers line up in front of the gate, they receive more bad news. The flight crew has worked the maximum number of hours allowed by law and cannot fly to Warsaw. Pilots must go to the hotel to rest before their next flight. During the pilot’s rest time the tired passengers are waiting at the terminal being supplied with sandwiches and drinks at the expense of the airline. The plane takes off with a 19-hour delay.
After returning to Poland, the passengers submit a complaint to the airline, LOT Polish Airlines. In response, they receive a nice letter of apology from the CEO, who explains that ensuring the safety of the crew and passengers is, quite rightly, always of priority importance to them. – “Understanding the difficult situation in which you were faced, I apologize once again and assure you that we will make every effort to ensure that in such cases our passengers feel the least inconvenience” – wrote Rafal Milczarski, President of LOT Polish Airlines in the letter addressed to the organizers of World Youth Day. Unfortunately, he did not say a single word about the compensation of 600 euros per passenger that each was entitled to receive.
This response from the airlines’ president was not the optimum he could have sent his poorly serviced customers, but from the point of view of being the head of the airline, he took care of his company’s interests. If Rafal Milczarski admitted that he would pay compensation to all passengers flying from Panama, then on this flight LOT would not make any profit.
Refunds4.me has recovered compensation for all passengers from Panama City to Warsaw on January 30, 2019 who applied to us. After deducting our commission (20% + VAT), each person received a bank transfer of over PLN 1,950 – the same as the cost of a return ticket to Panama. Passengers received their money within 7 days of us acting on their behalf.
It’s no secret that compensation for delayed and cancelled flights is a growing challenge for airlines. This is not about new regulations, since they have been in force since 2004. The challenge has become the fact that more and more passengers are aware of their rights and are having them pursued. Lufthansa alone paid half a billion euros in damages in 2018 – twice as much as the year before. It is still estimated that less than 20% of all passengers claim compensation. Amounts earmarked for compensation in the future will only increase, which must consequently entail improvements in services offered by the airlines or possible fare rises.
Some carriers try to blame this situation on dynamically operating compensation offices, which fight on behalf of passengers (removing the problem from them) to recover a significant part of their rightfully owed monetary compensation. We are accused of operating at the expense of a passenger who must share some of his compensation with lawyers. While we agree that the amount of commission charged by some law firms can be too high, it should be clearly said that thanks to the efforts of companies such as ours, more and more passengers know their rights of which airlines are so reluctant to inform them.
Our law firm Refunds4.me bears considerable costs of advertising online to reach passengers who experienced cancelled and delayed flights. We make them aware that there is considerable money waiting for them, which they probably would never have asked for. However isn’t it actually the airlines job to inform passengers about this fact?