5 On Your Side

European airlines offer greater compensation for delayed, canceled flights

Posted August 21, 2017 6:14 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:15 a.m. EDT

Travelers have lost hours of their time due to delayed flights, but they were likely never compensated unless they were traveling home from Europe.

Despite renewed talk about passenger rights, airlines have done little to make improvements when flights are delayed or canceled. Those pushing for change point out the United States is way behind Europe when it comes to passenger rights.

“The airlines, in their contract of carriage, promise to get you from point A to point B, but that’s all they promise,” said Charles Leocha, president of the nonprofit travelers rights group Travelers United.

What U.S. airlines don’t promise, according to Leocha, is when passengers will arrive. He and others said that could change if the U.S. adopts airline rules similar to those in place in Europe.

“So, that if your flight from Europe to the United States is delayed by four hours, you get 600 Euros, which is about $650,” he said.

Passengers on a delayed flight from the United States to Europe, however, would get nothing, even with recent improvements in compensation from airlines.

“The thing about air passenger rights and flight compensation is it’s bigger in Europe,” said Scott Ginsberg with AirHelp, Inc.

AirHelp, Inc. is a flight compensation company. For a fee, they will file a claim against an airline.

Federal regulators have a website dedicated to passenger complaints, but Leocha and Ginsberg said compensating travelers should be the responsibility of airlines everywhere.

“I dream that one day the U.S. will have air passenger rights as generous and as human as the European counterparts do,” Ginsberg said.