Flight compensation: Who helps you claim it?
Qamqam compares offers from the largest European flight compensation websites for over 32 million flights.
Flight compensation companies in 2023: It is worth comparing them!
Passengers suffering a flight delay or cancellation nowadays can turn to dozens of online companies which help to claim compensation of up to €600 under EU law. Their convenient service enforces air passenger rights against airlines on behalf of their customers in return for a mere success fee without any cost risk.
Some companies even provide direct payments before they collect the compensation owed by the airline. This makes it easier than ever to receive a reimbursement for those whose flight to or from a European airport has arrived over three hours late or has been cancelled altogether.
But who actually qualifies for a compensation under EU Regulation No 261/2004? And which of the flight compensation agencies charges the lowest fee for its service?
Answering these questions takes some explanation. Some companies pay out faster, others charge lower success fees. Moreover, most of them merely offer their services for flights departing and arriving in some EU countries and not all of them. Besides, some are pickier than others when it comes to the cases they consider eligible. And, of course, their terms and conditions vary equally under other aspects.
For this reason, the comparison website Qamqam provides a much-needed comprehensive overview on flight compensation companies.
Amount paid out
In case of one compensation website up to
Time until payout
In case of some compensation websites just
a few days
In case of some compensation websites just
Theoretically, there is an indefinite number of criteria under which one might compare different flight compensation websites. However, passengers trying to choose from the available options typically take the following aspects into consideration:
- How high is the success fee I will have to pay for their service?
- How fast will I receive my compensation?
- How much effort do I have to contribute when ordering a compensation company to enforce my claim?
- How satisified are previous customers of the companies with them? What do the customer reviews say?
Accordingly, Qamqam regularly checks the performance of the leading claim companies Airhelp, Compensation2Go, Refund Pilot, EUclaim, EUflight, Fairplane, Flightright, Yource and Wir kaufen deinen Flug (a German company whose name translates into “We buy your flight”). Every month we compare their terms and conditions and determine their specific strengths and weaknesses. The data we compile through this process is summarized here on this website and is meant to assist passengers in finding the right company to enforce their claim for compensation.
The comparison site Qamqam has reviewed the offers of the most established claim companies with regards to the level of their fees and the amount of flight compensation they pay out, the waiting time until then, the convenience for the passenger and their customer rating.
In every category of our review we have awarded up to five stars to the different claim companies we looked at. The top score was always earned by the flight compensation site that surpassed its competitors under a specific criterion, respectively. Depending on the category, the highest rating was reserved for the company that
- charged the lowest fee,
- paid out the promised compensation faster than anyone else,
- afforded its customers the greatest convenience in the process or
- achieved the highest customer satisfaction.
The further a rival fell behind under one those aspects, the lower the rating it received. However, if the performance of two companies almost resembled one another they were both given the same grade. Qamqam’s overall rating is based on the average of the individual scores in the different categories:
Large flight claim companies in Qamqam‘s scoring model
Compensation amount3 ★
Payout speed3 ★
Customer reviews 4 ★
Review of Airhelp
Compensation amount3 ★
Payout speed5 ★
Customer reviews 4 ★
Review of Comp2go
Compensation amount3 ★
Payout speed5 ★
Customer reviews 4 ★
Review of WkdF
To explain how we reached our overall results, each of the following sections is dedicated to one of the review categories we mentioned above. Step by step, this article will guide you through the various offers of flight compensation websites and discuss the individual scores we have assigned to them.
To give a general overview, we have assembled the key figures of the flight compensation companies we compared on May 1, 2021 right here below:
|Company||Payout speed||Service fee*||Payout amount||Convenience||Customer rating|
|Airhelp||Wochen bis Monate||35-50%||max. 390,00€||Okay||4,6/5 (Trustpilot)|
|Compensation2Go||1-3 Tage||34,51%||max. 392,00€||Okay||4,6/5 (Google)|
|Ersatz-Pilot||1-3 Tage||≈ 29,9%||max. 450,00€||Sehr hoch||5/5 (Trustpilot)|
|EUclaim||Wochen bis Monate||29,75%||max. 421,50€||Hoch||4,9/5 (Trustpilot)|
|EUflight||1-3 Tage||30,94-42,84%||max. 414,36€||Hoch||4,96/5 (Ausgezeichnet.org)|
|FairPlane||Wochen bis Monate||≈ 29%||max. 425,10€||Hoch||4,6/5 (Trustpilot)|
|Flightright||Wochen bis Monate||23,8-52,36%||max. 400,08€||Sehr hoch||4,6/5 (Trustpilot)|
|Flug-Verspaetet.de||Wochen bis Monate||29,75%||max. 421,50€||Okay||4,3/5 (Trustpilot)|
|Wir kaufen deinen Flug||1-3 Tage||41,65%||max. 350,10€||Okay||4,7/5 (Trustpilot)|
An elaborate comparison of the qualities of the different air passenger claim companies can be found in the following sections, whereas each of them focuses on one relevant criterion.
Claim companies enforce passengers’ rights to a compensation against the responsible airlines if a flight is delayed or cancelled. To start this process, a user’s eligibility is typically determined through automatized checkups by the respective flight compensation sites through their online form.
If a customer qualifies for the service of one of the companies, the latter claims the compensation, retains a success fee and forwards a payment to the passenger after deducing a success fee.
The respective cost risk is borne by the passenger himself if he seeks to enforce a claim by himself: Fees for an attorney’s service and legal proceedings must be paid by the affected traveler and will not be reimbursed by the other party in the event of defeat. Conversely, claim companies release users not only from the cost risk, but also assume the effort to enforce passenger rights and spare customers from the inconvenience of a legal dispute.
This can mean quite a bit: Anyone who foregoes the help of a passenger rights company must prepare for a certain amount of paperwork. Since airlines often do not pay the compensation they owe voluntarily, asserting a claim by oneself is rarely worthwhile – as we have already explained in detail elsewhere.
In order to enforce air passenger rights reliably and conveniently, it is therefore usually advisable for travelers to contact one of the flight compensation websites we compare in this article. To determine whether a flight delay or cancellation qualifies for their service, users can check their eligibility through the companies’ online forms. Every flight compensation site provides one free of charge and without obligation. To gain an overview even faster and easier, we have combined their tools and connected them to various data bases so that you can check whether a certain flight irregularity entitles passengers to a compensation.
It is therefore not necessary to submit the online form of a claim company to find out whether they recognize a right to compensation in an individual case. Generally, it suffices to use our comparison tool or to fill out an individual company’s form up until the point where it determines whether a flight qualifies for the site’s service. The respective category of our review discusses the comparative level of convenience of the different webtools the various passenger rights sites provide.
How does a flight compensation website work
All claim companies afford affected passengers the opportunity to enforce their claims under art. 7 EU Regulation No. 261/2004 against the airlines. This service offers valuable help to travelers especially because airlines often refuse to pay the compensation they owe voluntarily.
Flight compensation companies’ mission is to clear those hurdles by enforcing legitimate claims in court and to thereby secure a payment of up to €600 per passenger, from which it deduces its success fee.
While all flight compensation sites function similarly, their common features stop here. The various companies pay out compensation at different times, charge different fees for their services and require different levels of assistance from passengers when asserting their claims towards airlines. Understandably, affected travelers often struggle to keep track who offers the best conditions.
To provide a much-needed overview, Qamqam has therefore compared numerous flight compensation sites to help potential customers find the most suitable alternative for their case.
All air passenger websites known to us operate on a no-win-no-fee basis. This means that none of the companies we compared will charge any remuneration as long as a customer does not also receive a compensation thanks to the business’s effort. Thus, a user will not be obligated to make any advance payments to order a flight compensation site’s service. Instead, all providers offset their pure success fee against the compensation payment owed to the respective passenger.
However, this leaves open a more interesting question: How high is the payout that a customer ends up with when using a specific claim website?
Comparison of the payout amount of large flight compensation websites
|29,75% (incl. VAT)|
|≈ 29,9% (incl. VAT)|
|≈ 29% (incl. VAT)|
|29,75% (incl. VAT)|
|35-50% (incl. VAT)|
|34,51% (incl. VAT)|
|30,94-42,84% (incl. VAT)|
|23,8-52,36% (incl. VAT)|
|Wir kaufen deinen Flug||max. 350,10€|
|41,65% (incl. VAT)|
The numbers indicate that collection services such as EUclaim with longer waiting times charge passengers lower rates than those competitors that offer immediate payments. Flight compensation websites such as Wir kaufen deinen Flug keep over 40% of the receivable amount (VAT included). For instance, in case of a claim arising from a delay of a long-haul flight worth 600 € the customer is left with only ~ 350 €.
The fact that companies which indemnify customers out directly upon their application typically deduct higher fees than collection agencies is explained by the circumstance that the former naturally have to make advance payments. They must therefore take into account the risk that a claim purchased from a passenger turns out to be worthless – for instance because the affected airlines defaults on its debt during the enforcement process (as has been the case with Flybe, Monarch, Small Planet Germany, Germania, Alitalia which all went into administration even before the corona pandemic emerged).
On the other hand, collection service providers like Flightright do not cover this risk: A company of this sort simply suspends its dunning proceedings and will not make a payout to the customer if a debtor files for insolvency. The same happens should a court reject the claim asserted by a collection company on behalf of a passenger. Collection agencies are therefore not threatened by the risk of frustrated payments to customers. If their enforcement attempts remain unsuccessful, their costs are limited to the expenses for futile legal proceedings commenced before a case is closed. Hence, at least their cost structure allows them to be a bit more self-restrained with regards to their fees and indeed some collection companies pass this benefit on to customers.
Up until 2018 EUclaim was even generous enough to deduct a rate of merely around 22% plus VAT and leave the rest of a successfully collected compensation payment to passengers. This prompted Qamqam to award five stars to the collection agency back then. However, a no individual company offers a payout at this level any longer. For the time being, therefore, no provider is awarded a full five stars to make it clear that for many there is still some potential for improvement. Instead our rating system merely reserves the second-best grade or rather four stars for a number of different companies. They all dinstinguish themselves in terms of the amount of compensation offered with regards to different sorts of flights. For instance, Refund Pilot’s fee is relatively low for long distance flights, whereas Fairplane and EUclaim make more competitive offers for short-haul flights compared to their rivals.
For this reason, the companies EUclaim, Refund Pilot, Fairplane and Yource each achieve a rating of four out of five stars with regards to the amount of their fees and their compensation payouts. Airhelp, Compensation2Go, EUflight, Flightright and Wir kaufen deinen Flug, on the other hand, only receive three stars each in this category.
There is a significant discrepancy in the time users of various flight compensation sites must wait until the compensation they are entitled to is transferred to their bank accounts. The most noticeable difference in this respect can be found between so-called collection agencies and factoring companies (i.e. enterprises that acquire claims and pay the purchase price upfront).
Collection service providers such as Flightright, EUclaim and Fairplane only pay out once they have successfully enforced a customer’s claim for compensation. Hence, the waiting time highly depends on the resistance by the airline they meet when they assert air passenger rights. If they succeed in enforcing the claim out of court, it usually takes a few weeks or about a month for the compensation to be paid according to customer feedback.
However, airlines often refuse to pay right away without any objections. In such cases, customers of collection agencies will have to be patient for at least a few months until a competent European court orders the defendant to pay. If a lawsuit is filed against a foreign airline headquartered outside the country of the court’s jurisdiction or if the latter is overburdened, the proceedings may sometimes even last for over a year until a ruling is delivered.
The speedy payout promised by factoring companies such as Refund Pilot and EUflight can therefore be a real selling point. Instead of requiring even more waiting time passengers already affected by delays on their flights, they issue their payments directly after a successful online verification of their entitlement to compensation in return for the assignment of the respective claim.
In effect, factoring companies thereby render an advance payment bearing the risk that a user’s claim cannot be enforced after all – as was the case with rights to compensation owed by insolvent carriers such as Flybe, Monarch, Thomas Cook Airlines and Air Berlin over the past years. Even if those circumstances materialize, passengers that have turned to factoring sites can keep the payment they receive immediately upon using the service one way or another. Those interested in a prompt settlement and swift compensation may therefore find the solution offered by this type of air passenger rights companies most helpful.
Comparison of the waiting time until payout by major flight compensation websites
|Website||Time until payout|
|Wir kaufen deinen Flug||1-3 Tage|
|Airhelp||Wochen bis Monate|
|EUclaim||Wochen bis Monate|
|FairPlane||Wochen bis Monate|
|Flightright||Wochen bis Monate|
|Flug-Verspaetet.de||Wochen bis Monate|
Accordingly, the factoring websites Compensation2Go, Refund Pilot, EUflight and Wir kaufen deinen Flug earn all five stars available in the category „Duration until Compensation“. After all, the payout to customers could hardly be accomplished any quicker than within a few days. The collection services Airhelp, EUclaim, Fairplane, Flightright and Yource, on the other hand, only reach a score of three out of five possible stars.
Additional information on the probability of payouts
By the way, the duration until compensation is closely linked to another important aspect of a passenger rights agency’s service, namely its certainty. If a factoring company agrees to a payment, a customer can be assured that it will be credited to his bank account within a couple of days. If, conversely, a collection service provider such as Flightright initially considers an entitlement to compensation to be probable, this will not necessarily result in a payout. For instance, it may be the case that an airline goes into administration after a user commissions a collection agency but before it succeeds in enforcing his claim.
Up until the payout customers of collection service providers therefore continue to face the risk that the enforcement of their claims may fail in part or completely. Fortunately, this only affects a tiny minority of all cases: Most collection agencies point out that 97-99% of their lawsuits are successful.
However, this also means that in about every 50th court case, the claim company’s motion is dismissed, and the airline is not ordered to pay. Here, the customers of a collection agency are left empty-handed, whereas they would be allowed to keep the payment had they chosen the service of a factoring website. The same applies should a flight compensation company like Airhelp discover that legal action is futile prior to launching a court proceeding. This may happen if the airline goes bankrupt in the meantime or because undiscovered circumstances of the case permit the rejection of a claim for compensation.
Speaking of bankruptcies: Customers of flight compensation sites such as Flightright are also confronted with an insolvency risk from another direction. Since their users assign their claims to most collection agencies for the duration of the proceedings to facilitate enforcement (so-called assignment for collection), they are treated as insolvency assets of the claim company itself if it goes into administration.
It is true that this constitutes more of an abstract danger, since passenger rights companies tend to be highly profitable, as shown by the published balance sheets of recent years. When selecting a specific service provider, however, one should take into account that an assignment for collection can result in losing one’s claim to the insolvency assets in the event of the company’s insolvency during the proceedings. This seems to be worth a consideration at least in times of the corona pandemic when flight compensation sites struggle to generate revenues. As airlines have reduced their operations tremendously and flight irregularities have thinned out temporarily as well, especially smaller collection agencies may find it hard to make ends meet. Those who wish to forego the risk of missing out on their compensation due to the bankruptcy of either their airline or a collection company might find factoring sites particularly advantageous.
In principle, all air passenger rights sites require the same pieces of information about a flight to check a user’s entitlement and help passengers claim their compensation. This is because all cases are governed by the same applicable provisions of the European legal order that determines the right to compensation by uniform parameters – regardless, which claim company is seeking to enforce it.
Independent of the flight compensation site chosen, the user must, of course, provide the necessary information to document the facts of the case. After all, it is the passenger who experienced the flight irregularity which potentially entitles him to a lump-sum payment. Therefore, at first sight one might assume that the passenger’s own effort is equally high in the case of all different services.
In fact, however, the amount of assistance required by the various claim companies diverges considerably depending on the level of sophistication of the web forms used to record cases and submit applications:
If a passenger rights site requests less information via its online form, the passenger can complete the process faster. Unfortunately, the examination of a specific claim for compensation may make it necessary to turn in certain data manually by telephone or e-mail in case the online form alone does not investigate the facts of the matter comprehensively.
Whether or not a flight compensation website provides a particularly convenient service is therefore largely determined by how far the web form provided reduces the passenger’s actual effort to complete an application and document the facts of his case sufficiently. Certain differences among the different claim companies can be observed in this respect:
Comparison of the convenience of large flight compensation websites
|Wir kaufen deinen Flug||Okay|
As our test runs of the various flight compensation companies indicate, the online forms of Flightright (collection agency) and Refund Pilot (factoring firm) seem to be particularly diligent in gathering information from affected passengers. Their clean, well-structured frontends and their auto-complete functions greatly augment users in providing an in-depth description of the flight irregularity they suffered through the available online forms already: Accordingly, filling out their questionaires takes an unnoticeable amount of extra time compared to rivals’ application forms while reconstructing the relevant facts of the matter in great detail directly through the web app. As you would expect, customers of the aforementioned companies rarely report any follow-up questions after submitting their application.
This can also be explained through the fact that Flightright and Refund Pilot rely heavily on external databases, which often contain most relevant information regarding a specific flight disruption so that little manual input by the user is required. After submitting the online form, a customer of Flightright or Refund Pilot can typically already sit back and relax while the company verifies a passenger’s entitlement and enforces their claim.
On other flight compensation websites such as Yource (collection service) and Compensation2Go (factoring company) the process of filling out the online firm takes a few minutes less time. However, this is most often not due to their superior insight into the relevant facts of a case or sophisticated background checks with external sources but rather due to the simplicity of their web forms: While Flightright and Refund Pilot tap extensive databases to find out about the scheduled and actual arrival time of a flight, other companies must always capture this information through manual input fields. As requesting all details of a flight connection manually would quickly overburden their online forms, competitors with lower convenience scores have left out some potentially relevant inquiries completely. For instance, they may forego systematic questions on feeder, connecting or alternative flights even though this information may be critical to evaluate a passenger’s entitlement to compensation.
Here is another example of the fussiness of the less convenient web forms of some companies: Compensation2Go and Wir kaufen deinen Flug – as far as we can see – only ask for the airports of departure and arrival, but not for the flight number of a disrupted connection. On routes with more than one flight per day between start and destination, this information alone does not allow a clear distinction of the flight in question. Its identity is only knowledgeable once the individual flight number is disclosed, which therefore must be requested separately. In many cases, such gaps in the compilation of facts revolving a certain flight disruption can only be closed by posing follow-up questions to the affected party.
This may result in additional effort required by the customer: The service provider’s manual queries often take up more time than ticking another checkbox in the online form would have done.
An intermediate level of convenience is afforded to users by the application form on EUclaim’s site. The service provider runs a quick check of every flight entered right upon launching its web app. For this purpose, the tool automatically fetches several data points concerning a specific flight from external databases to determine whether common causes defeat a claim. For example, the mechanism can detect that a passenger does not qualify for compensation due to extraordinary circumstances like air traffic control measures, a strike, or a severe storm.
Presumably, this can be achieved by comparing the figures of an individual flight with other simultaneous flight irregularities at the departure or arrival airport and along the flight route. Where cancellations and delays pile up, this usually reliably indicates cases of force majeure and expedites reaching a verdict on a user’s entitlement to compensation. In this respect, EUclaim’s service is on a par with the online forms of Flightright and Refund Pilot in terms of convenience.
Nonetheless, determining a sufficient delay and the absence of force majeure through a check with external databases alone is insufficient to complete a legal assessment of a passenger’s right to compensation. The latter also depends on other facts of the case that EUclaim does not gather quite as swiftly as those considered in the initial checkup.
Moreover, the passenger still has to upload travel documents for later (judicial) examination of a lawsuit brought forth against the airline. However, as of May 1, 2021 EUclaim’s platform does not offer an opportunity to do so during the initial request. Instead, a boarding pass or booking confirmation can only be uploaded afterwards. Besides, EUclaim obligates every user to set up an account on their webpage. While the latter may be helpful to track the progress of the enforcement of one’s claim against the airline, the entire process of completing an application becomes more protracted.
Additional follow-up questions by EUclaim must be expected with regards to relevant information on personal circumstances relating to the case, such as the timely arrival at the departure airport. This is because no general flight database like Flightradar24 or Flightstats can provide respective insights, only the passengers themselves. Concerning these aspects of a case, as far as recognisable, merely Flightright and Refund Pilot systematically check all aspects in the first round.
Accordingly, only these two flight compensation sites score a full five stars in the category „User-friendliness“.
So far, no passenger portal seems to offer greater convenience to a passenger utilizing their service to claim compensation. The service providers EUclaim, EUflight, Fairplane and Yource lag slightly behind and are each awarded four stars.
In a direct comparison, compensation via Airhelp, Compensation2Go and Wir kaufen deinen Flug seems to require greater assistance from customers to clarify the facts of the case given their rudimentary web apps. Therefore, they merely receive three out of five possible stars in the category „Convenience“.
More information on further support collection agencies might ask for
Judging from customer feedback, customers of collection service providers like Yource will face additional correspondence upon applying for compensation and submitting their travel documents. If questions arise during the legal dispute with the airline, customers are frequently asked to help with more detailed information. Otherwise, the success of the procedure and thus the desired payment will be jeopardized. This is because customers of collection agencies such as Airhelp do not receive the promised compensation until the end of the proceedings against the airline, in some cases only after a court ruling or even a consequent levy of execution.
For this reason, reviews from users of collection service providers occasionally mention follow-up requests seeking various explanations and further documents during legal proceedings. Surely, factoring companies like Refund Pilot probably need this information to enforce claims as well. Yet, they are more likely to request it right in the online form rather than bit by bit since they consciously avoid a sizeable customer care unit able to administer additional correspondence with users after the payout.
Besides, there is another aspect to be considered, which makes the proceedings at EUclaim and some other collection agencies inevitably more complicated. If the claim remains with the passenger and the company is only commissioned to enforce it, the customer himself will also act as plaintiff in a potential court case. Nevertheless, the flight compensation site will of course bear the costs of the proceedings.
By nature, however, it is the plaintiff, who authorizes the lawyer that represents him in court. Provided that he remains the holder of his passenger rights and does not temporarily assign his claim for collection, the passenger will therefore have to take care of this step as well. What is more, this requires a certain degree of formality: For the respective power of attorney to be valid, most European jurisdictions require it to be issued in written form (see f.i. sec. 80 sent. 1 ZPO [German Code of Civil Procedure).
This means that at the latest when court proceedings are necessary to assert the claim for compensation, the customer of a collection service provider such as EUclaim must sign its power of attorney form by hand and send it to the lawyer by mail. While attorneys may waive this formality internally, national civil procedure law in different European countries often requires the plaintiff to submit the original power of attorney to the court if the opposing party demands it. Law firms are therefore typically keen to request it from customers.
From this legal circumstance it follows that it is only with the help of a claim assignment that it is legally possible to limit the effort of the customer to filling out the online form. In this case the customer does not become a party to legal proceedings.
Thus, factoring companies such as EUflight and Refund Pilot enjoy a certain comparative advantage in this respect. By the fact that claims are transferred to them in return for direct payments, their customers are not involved in the legal actions they take as the companies themselves act as plaintiffs. As far as we know, Airhelp and Flightright are the only prominent collection agencies which use a similar legal structure by resorting to assignments for collection and have claims assigned to them for the duration of a legal dispute.
In principle, a solution relying on claim assignments benefits from the circumstance that an assignment can be effected under most European jurisdictions without any special form. In practice, however, it proves highly impractical to assign claims without any formality at all. After all, the success of court proceedings usually depends on sufficient evidence with respect to the conducted transfer of the asserted claim to the plaintiff. However, in flight compensation cases, the latter ordinarily requires a mere electronic copy of a confirmation of the assignment signed by the customer.
As far as we know, no passenger rights site can release its customers from the corresponding additional effort. Nonetheless, sending a photo or a scanned image of an assignment form signed by hand seems at least less cumbersome than having to send the original of a power of attorney by mail. Hence, we regard claim assignments embraced by factoring companies, Flightright and Airhelp as the more convenient alternative to written authorizations demanded by Yource, EUclaim and other collection agencies.
All passenger rights companies achieve impressive average scores in their customer ratings. Measured by publicly available reviews, all providers keep their word and can help the vast majority of their users.
Even within this general tendency, factoring companies like EUflight and Refund Pilot set themselves apart a little and manage to exceed the already high standard among flight compensation websites. According to the public feedback they receive, these service providers seem to benefit from paying out compensation promptly and saving affected passengers waiting time.
Among the collection agencies, two service providers stand out in particular with respect to their excellent customer reviews: EUclaim and Fairplane. From the users‘ point of view, they are best able to compensate for the increased waiting time with exemplary friendly and transparent customer care during the period it takes to enforce the claims.
Comparison of customer satisfaction with major flight compensation companies
|Wir kaufen deinen Flug||4,7/5 (Trustpilot)|
Overall, however, the evaluation of collection service providers highlighs the fact that the procedure for enforcing a claim is often tedious and therefore produces long waiting times until they can forward the compensation to their customers.
Some customers of collection agencies also complain that their cases are initially assessed as promising, but that legal proceedings are discontinued once attempts to enforce their claims are met with resistance by the airline.
As factoring companies already render payments to customers before they even assert their claims towards carriers, they do not face the same criticism. However, it is in the nature of a collection agency’s business model that the customer continues to bear the risk of a failed enforcement until the service provider succeeds in its legal dispute against the airline.
Either way, users of flight compensation companies do not assume a cost risk, even in collection models. However, whether they actually receive a compensation still depends on whether Flightright or an alternative abandons their attempts to enforce a claim once they discover that an airline can offer valid grounds for its rejection. As opposed to factoring companies, collection agencies are indeed forced to bother their users with this difficulty at times (since they do not hand out advance payments to them).
Customer reviews indicate that some lawsuits by Flightright and the likes are lost in court. Nonetheless, testimonies and customer feedback regarding those collection services seem to confirm their statements according to which passenger rights can be successfully enforced in approximately 97-99% of all legal proceedings. Conversely, this also means that about one in fifty cases is dismissed in court.
In addition, there are cases in which a collection service provider realizes during the extrajudicial enforcement of the passenger claim already that, contrary to its expectations, legal proceedings are unlikely to succeed. If this happens, the collection agency will (understandably) not file a pointless lawsuit but will rather abandon the legal dispute prematurely without result. In this case, the customer’s efforts to commission the passenger rights company prove to be in vain. Said risk of unsuccessful litigation against the airline is also reflected in multiple customer reviews of collection services.
Factoring companies, on the other hand, do not receive any comparable criticism from their users. Judging by customer feedback, it seems that one of their major advantages lies precisely in the fact that they take away the passenger’s risk of unsuccessful lawsuits and pay them off directly.
Against this background, the flight compensation websites Refund Pilot, EUflight and EUclaim earn the top score of five stars in the category „Customer Experience“ as of May 1, 2021.
Passengers also seem to be quite satisfied with the services of Airhelp, Compensation2Go, Fairplane, Flightright and Wir kaufen deinen Flug. However, their customers voice dismay more frequently so that their overall ratings are a tad lower than those of the aforementioned competitors. Therefore, our ranking awards four out of five possible stars to each of them.
In terms of customer satisfaction we sense that most other passenger rights companies active on the European market reach a comparable standard, as far as we know. The only exception on the market seems to be refund.me which still gathered mostly positive reviews but is confronted with an unusual amount of criticism compared to its rivals. Accordingly, the company only receives two out of five possible stars in the category „Customer Rating“.
Criticism in detail
In addition to such rather structural advantages and disadvantages of flight compensation websites, customer reviews also raise a number of specific points of criticism with respect to certain companies. A closer look at the individual reports on Trustpilot and other evaluation platforms thus revealed the following insights:
Duration of proceedings by collection agencies
Customers occasionally accuse collection service providers like Flightright of hesitating before filing lawsuits, and instead routinely reminding airlines of claims out of court. Thereby they allow them several months to process the asserted claims while they might as well take legal action after setting a deadline of merely two weeks.
There may be several reasons for this cautious approach: In many cases, mere economic considerations justify postponing court proceedings. As long as experience shows that out-of-court payments are made at least in most cases, it is presumably worthwhile for collection agencies to wait a little longer. To directly launch legal proceedings would often mean unnecessarily choosing the much more costly and time-consuming way.
Moreover, customers would usually not even benefit from it because even a belated out-of-court payment ordinarily arrives sooner than a court’s ruling: Experience shows that a court delivers a decision two to three months after filing a lawsuit at the earliest. If the airline pays voluntarily in the meantime, the passenger will receive a compensation payment comparatively faster than if proceedings had been initiated.
Nevertheless, the waiting time risked by such a patient approach will likely feel annoying for all those customers for whom no out-of-court settlement is reached. In those cases, the protracted dunning circles add to the length of time that legal proceedings take overall.
At the same time one thing is certain: Procedural delays are typically far less unpleasant for collection service providers than for passengers waiting for compensation. It does not cost them anything and stretches out their workload Furthermore, collection agencies actively profit from protractions if they retain interest on late payments and do not pass it on to their customers. The longer a compensation is delayed, the higher the costs of delay can be charged. Unsurprinsingly, flight compensation websites such as Airhelp and Flightright face some criticism for their decision to keep default interest to themselves.
Simultaneously, it is true that factoring companies enjoy the same advantage and do not pass on default interest either. However, this is apparently not particularly troublesome for customers since they are paid out immediately after they submit their application. Since this saves them waiting time, none of them feels deprived of interest for late payments that is essentially owed in return for having to wait.
Availability of compensation for flights with ceparture and arrival airports outside large european countries
Smaller and younger flight compensation sites like Compensation2Go and Refund Pilot have generally not yet entered cooperations with partner law firms in a lot of EU countries. Such collaborations are necessary, however, in order to enforce air passenger rights across the EU. While Germany as the largest market in Europe hosts the most passenger rights companies, a lot of them can only offer their service if the flight connection in question either departs from or arrives at a German (or Austrian) airport. This is because they lack reliable partner law firms that can launch legal proceedings at the location of the airport if a connection only took off and landed in another EU country. Most prominently, the service of EUflight, Wir kaufen deinen Flug, Compensation2Go and Refund Pilot is limited accordingly.
As a rule of thumb, a direct payment by a factoring company is only available for flights that took off or landed in Germany. This may change as their increasingly popular service model might spreads to other jurisdictions. But as of May 1, 2021 collection agencies are the only flight compensation companies that offer help in cases of flights with no touch point in Germany and Austria.
The web app of Refund Pilot shows directly at the beginning of every flight check whether its service is available for a certain flight connection. Other factoring companies such as EUflight and Compensation2Go, on the other hand, often do not turn down cases that cannot be processed right away. This sometimes leads to disillusionment for customers, because they end up filling out the form for nothing.
Qamqam deliberately refrains from making a clear recommendation in favor of one particular passenger rights company at this point. Instead, the assembled information should enable passengers to independently select a suitable service provider. Of course, every reader should bear in mind that this article only presents a general overview of the flight compensation sites’ terms and conditions. They may deviate in individual cases (for instance, if one of the companies offers a temporary discount or if it exceptionally does not regard certain claims as valid under specific circumstances).
Qamqam has therefore developed a free tool which checks and compares the compensation offered by different passenger rights websites for individual flights.
Have you experienced any delay or cancellation on one of your flights? Then you are welcome to use our free comparison web app to find out which service provider is the ideal choice to claim compensation.
Which other air passenger rights are there beside the entitlement to a cash compensation?
Very few passengers are aware that Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 (the EU Passenger Rights Regulation) does not only entitle them to a lump-sum compensation if they suffer a flight disruption. In fact, airlines are obliged to alleviate the inconvenience of their customers in other ways as well.
For example, if a flight is cancelled or delayed until the following day, the airline must also pay for hotel accommodation and transfers to and from the airport. In addition, the EU Passenger Rights Regulation provides for a right to free snacks and drinks if a delay last for at least two hours.
Overall, international travel law does not only protect against the discomfort arising from flight delays and cancellations. It also stipulates obligations regarding the reimbursement of lost luggage and other quantifiable damages: The Montreal Convention and provisions in national law order airlines to compensate those losses. Qamqam has compiled a comprehensive summary on what affected parties are entitled to in addition to the well-known cash compensation. This article provides an in-depth overview of your rights in the event of flight irregularities and how to assert them.
Furthermore, Qamqam has assembled a free-to-read complete guide on the European right to flight compensation. This article offers a step-by-step walkthrough covering every condition that must be met so that a passenger is entitled to a lump-sum compensation under art. 7 (EC) No. 261/2004.
In addition, the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) decided on March 20, 2018, that an airline must reimburse fees and taxes which are saved if passengers are not carried on a flight they booked (procedure no.: X ZR 25/17). This applies both to cancellations by the airline and by the customer. Though the respective reimbursement does not cover the entire ticket price but only the portion charged for fees and taxes, the entitlement is irrespective of why a passenger does not board a flight: It is at least possible to claim a partial refund of the fare paid.
Often, however, airlines are not prepared to make a refund voluntarily. This is exactly where Refund Pilot’s ticket refund offer and RightNow GmbH’s service Geld-für-Flug can help. The companies have specialised on direct payments for reimbursement claims in cases of flight cancellations by passengers. For further information regarding their specific terms and conditions please see our article on Refund Pilot (in English) as well as our review of Geld-für-Flug (in German) or check out the latter’s website or the former’s page.
Author: Andreas Kieschle
This article was written by Andreas Kieschle on June 20, 2019 and translated on April 24, 2020. The last update was published on Januar 6, 2022. Mr. Kieschle has been working for the comparison site Qamqam as an editor since 2019. In his reviews he evaluates the terms of conditions of selected legal tech companies and holds them against those of competitors.