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Messed-up flight? Don't settle for a food voucher

AirHelp and could help you get money you're owed from the airlines, but it will cost you.

By MSN Money Partner May 23, 2014 4:33PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyFlight delayed, canceled or overbooked? You might be owed some money, and we're not talking about a $20 food voucher.

According to TechCrunch, you could be owed up to $1,300 for an overbooked flight in the U.S. In Europe, delayed, canceled or overbooked flights can mean up to $800 for travelers.

Airport check-in © Digital Vision/Getty Images/Getty ImagesBut many people don't know that they're owed cash for their messed-up flight. Reuters said:

Indeed, the right of consumers to collect cash from airlines for international as well as domestic flight delays is not well known, says Christopher Elliott, author of "How to be the World’s Smartest Traveler" and ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler. "The rules are obscure, and airlines intentionally keep them that way."

Even if travelers are aware that they're owed money, it can be a headache to deal with the airlines and the mountain of paperwork that will follow. Reuters said only about 2 percent of eligible travelers try to claim their refund and many of them aren't successful.

But that number could go up, thanks to service providers like AirHelp and, which work to claim refunds for passengers -- for a fee, of course., which specializes in European flights, charges a 15 percent commission on any compensation paid if clients return the required power of attorney form within 28 days, after which they charge 25 percent. AirHelp takes a 25 percent cut of any compensation received.

AirHelp CMO Nicolas Michaelsen told TechCrunch:

If passengers try and claim themselves, they'll have to send tons of documents, they'll experience dead links. And if you get through that hurdle, you're likely to be rejected by the airline saying that it's an extraordinary circumstance. We auto-generate the legal documents that you should send to the airline.

According to Reuters, eligible travelers could receive the following compensation from airlines:

  • European flight delay or cancellation. You're eligible for up to $825 if a flight is delayed three or more hours or canceled. Michaelsen said the average payout is $600.
  • Bumped from an oversold U.S. flight. You could receive up to 200 percent of the one-way ticket price, up to $650, if you can’t get to your destination within an hour of your scheduled time. If you're delayed for two hours or more, you could collect up to 400 percent of the cost of the one-way ticket, up to $1,300.

There is a caveat. If you're like most people and you accept a voucher from the airline, then you are not eligible for a cash payment.

Were you aware that you could be eligible to receive cash from an airline for overbooking or other delays?

More from Money Talks News

May 27, 2014 2:24PM
What is this? An ad for the companies that make money getting you a refund. Why didn't the article give links on how to find what you are owed so that you can fight for your rights?
May 25, 2014 12:15PM

I have no problems when I complain to anyone......The nuts I bought from Frito-Lays were stale, I got 4 coupons for free nuts. Also I bought a 2 liter soda from Wal-Mart that leaked I got 6 coupons for soda. I've stayed in hotels where the heat/AC didn't work I got my room comp-ed or a refund.  Each time I have complained to Corp. I get a letter of apology as well.   

Corp. America has got to understand that when money is exchanged for goods or a service there has to be a degree of satisfaction. Money tight I say F I G H T !!!!!

May 28, 2014 4:01PM
I find this type of advice loathsome. More often than not this has nothing to do with righting a wrong, it's all about getting something for nothing. 

The average consumer today is being trained to believe they are the most entitled person in the world. Regardless of what's right or wrong, you are entitled. Don't think about the consequences of your actions, just get whatever you can, and the best way to do it is throw the biggest fit you can!

I hear people boast all the time about how they got this or that for free. If someone is legitimately wronged, almost any company will be happy to make it right. The problem is when people read these articles, they begin to scheme to see how they can get in on the free ride. Here's a step by step write-up for those people.

1. Look for the tiniest mistake. Doesn't matter if it only cost you 10 cents, or 5 minutes, it's a mistake, and all you need is a crack to get your foot in the door, then you can blow it out of proportion until you make the company's head spin. 
2. Call and treat the first person you speak to like garbage. Before they say a word, tell them "I want to speak to someone smarter than you!" Don't even acknowledge that they are a person until they get you to a manager. 
3. Start by telling the manager what an important customer youare, tell him/her you spend thousands with their company, and that you are very influential as well. Tell them you want more than a full refund and if they don't do that, then you will file a complaint with the BBB, and spend the next several months online lambasting them on the internet, and ultimately get a bloodsucking lawyer to take them for every penny they are worth. 
4. Refuse to accept a compromise. You are here to win, not come to a fair resolution. Continue to scream and yell and promise you will not stop calling until you get the resolution you want. They will eventually relent and you will not only get your product for free, but you may get additional money back and more free stuff!
5. Sleep like a baby that night knowing that you cleaned up on the deal and are now better equipped to take advantage of the next company.
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