fFlight cancellations, delays, lost suitcases – it looks like a summary of the year in fast motion. The past few days have brought some inconvenience for passengers – as has been the case several times this year. And more flight trouble means more work for Flightright. It’s one of several companies that have made it a business to collect refunds and compensation for passengers who are reluctant or unwilling to pay out airlines, for a commission.
Flightright boss Jan-Frederik Arnold had no shortage of customers in 2022. “The high number of irregularities in flight operations brought us twice as many inquiries from dissatisfied customers as in 2019. The number of delays and cancellations has increased more than the number of passengers,” he says in an interview with the FAZ. By the beginning of December there had been 25 percent more flight cancellations than in 2019, and in the summer there were 44 percent more.
“The location surprised us”
“These figures from our flight plan analysis provide a good picture of the situation in the industry. And the situation surprised us,” says Arnold. “It was clear long in advance which flights airlines would provide. Passengers just booked this offer.” According to Flightright data, 1.85 percent of all local departures have been cancelled. The value includes the fact that there were hardly any failures in the first quarter with little traffic, and even more so in the summer. In the annual balance sheet, Germany occupies “a top position in Europe”. “Only in the Netherlands and Norway were more flights canceled as a percentage.”
From the boss’s point of view, the fact that the work for Flightright is growing is not only due to the company’s advertising. “Passengers have lost some of their trust in airlines,” says Arnold. It’s about a lot of money. “The claims for compensation and reimbursements that we are enforcing add up to a low three-digit million amount. We have to regularly send individual airlines packages in which we send the documents for 100, sometimes 500 new claims.” If passengers arrive at their destination more than three hours late, EU passenger rights provide compensation. The entitlement to 250 euros for a short-haul flight or 600 euros for intercontinental flights of more than 3500 kilometers only lapses in exceptional circumstances. The same applies if flights are canceled less than 14 days before the travel date and no replacement connection takes place.
Easyjet made a positive impression
“There used to be a clear picture: low-cost airlines tried to fend off claims, premium airlines behaved more properly. That’s not the case anymore,” says Arnold. “The low-cost airline Easyjet made a positive impression on us with payments. Lufthansa, on the other hand, is one of the major non-payers.” Not only passengers have a hard time there, but also lawyers. “In relation to Flightright and in court proceedings, too, Lufthansa uses every conceivable legal opportunity to evade the payment of claims that are conditional or generally promising as a result of internal airline strikes,” says Arnold.
However, Lufthansa operations do not seem to be the same as Lufthansa operations. “It’s exciting that the Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings mostly compensates strike-related cancellations quickly without the need for court proceedings,” he says. In the internal Flightright ranking of how readily airlines recognize customer demands, the low-cost offshoot Eurowings takes a top spot, while the premium brand Lufthansa is at the bottom. Arnold has no explanation for this.
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