More than two thirds of airline passengers are being left out of pocket by failing to claim compensation for airline delays, a study claims.
They could collectively be missing out on as much as £112 million in compensation or up to £460 each, according to research by comparison website money.co.uk.
The estimate is based on the disclosure that out of 1,000 travellers who have experienced delays of three hours or more over the past six years, 70% are unlikely to make a claim.
And industry analysis by the online firm reveals that almost 500,000 travellers are likely to suffer flight delays of more than three hours this summer.
Under EU regulations, many of these travellers will be entitled to claim compensation from the airline they travel with.
But one third of those surveyed did not know they could claim compensation, despite the ruling being in place for a decade.
One in three thought they would only get a maximum of £150, which could be why one in four said they could not be bothered. With consumers believing they will receive an average of £176 in compensation this could be why more are not claiming.
Half of those surveyed are completely unaware that under EC regulation 261/2004 travellers can make a claim for flight delays of three hours or more up to six years after they take place. Just 30% of those surveyed have made a claim leaving 70% potentially eligible.
Almost three quarters (73%) of those that claimed compensation for delays went directly to the airline - almost two thirds received payment.
Of those who were declined payment by the airline, a further 7% had to escalate their case to the Civil Aviation Authority in order to receive compensation. One in ten people who were turned down did not know how to take their case to the regulator.
More than one in four (27%) of those that made a claim for compensation following a flight delay of over three hours used a claims management or legal firm, parting with 23% of their compensation on average.
Some firms are taking as much as 30% which could equate to £552 for a family of four. If claimants use a third party they could together wave goodbye to almost £11 million during the summer alone.
Reasons cited for using these firms were: the claim was quite complex and they were advised to get legal help (30%), they had nothing to lose if the firm did all the work for them (29%) and one in four thought they would have a better chance of success.
Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk said: “Airlines make it really easy to lodge a claim and you don’t even have call them – most allow you to do it online.
“As the process is generally so simple there’s no point paying a middle man; lodge the claim yourself and you should get to keep every penny.
“This isn’t about chasing compensation for minor inconveniences. If your travel plans have seriously been affected and the airline was at fault, you can and should ask for the compensation you’re entitled to. If the airline wasn’t to blame then look to your travel insurance instead.”
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