AirHelp, quite a pleasant way to file for flight delay compensation
Flight delays and cancellations are part of the life of frequent fliers and, while, most of the time passengers are entitled to get some compensation from the airline, the claiming process is usually quite a pain to go through.
But, where there is a problem, there is usually an entrepreneur looking to fix it. Fligh delay and cancellation claims could not be an exception. This is what the guys at AirHelp are trying to do: they promise to take care of your claim at a cost of 25% of what they are able to recover from the airline, on a no-win, no-fee basis.
The concept is, thus, quite straightforward, but, as often with great ideas, it is (almost) all about execution, and in this regard, AirHelp seems to excel, at least when it comes to the presentation and usability of their website, that includes quite an entertaining real time feed of flight updates and cancellations around the World.
So, as part of the series of interviews with entrepreneurs that are working to improve the air travel experience (and I won't deny it, as a potential future user!), I got in touch with Nicolas Michaelsen at AirHelp to learn a bit more about this young company, that is backed, among others, by well-known Danish technology entrepreneur and investor Morten Lund, of Skype fame.
Q: Nicolas, in your own words, what is AirHelp?
A: We’re the easiest way for flight passengers to get compensation if their flight was delayed, cancelled or overbooked. We do it through a proprietary backend system and an algorithm that can determine whether or not a flight is eligible for compensation. We take care of everything from the claim is submitted, to the money is in the passengers account
Q: How did your project get started? Who is the team behind the project?
A: The project started because we ourselves were delayed and tried to figure out what our rights were. We tried the process of claiming compensation ourselves and found that there was a huge gap between the rights of the passengers and the way these claims were actually being handled.
With our background and vast expertise within IT we knew that we would be able to come up with a system that could optimize the process.
We’re not trying to antagonize the airlines as we believe that they are still struggling to figure out the best way to handle these claims, which is something we can help them with. If you think about it, this is a great possibility for any airline to invest in customer retention.
Q: What is the differentiation with regards to other airline claims services such as Germany's Flightright?
A: We have a global approach to this and don't see it as a local thing like most other services. Another thing that is a clear different is how we think user experience should be the one of the most important things when filing the claim as a passenger. If you have to answer tons of questions before you can send your claim, than you might as well send the claim to the airlines directly.
Q: Any metrics you could share about how successful you are in getting back money from the airlines?
A: We win the majority of the claims we send to airlines, because we are very sure about the cases since they have been scanned through our proprietary claim engine.
Q: Your business model is particularly linked to the regulatory framework. How do you see EU legislation regarding passenger rights evolving?
A: In general terms we are seeing a shift towards a more clearly defined legislation that takes into consideration the many EU Court rulings there has been in recent years. One of the main problems has been the fact that, what has been regarded as legal precedents, wasn't a part of the legislation. This led to different interpretations. It now seems like these court rulings will be implemented as a part of the law. On a global scale we see a trend towards strengthened passenger rights, with the US and China slowly following in the footsteps of EU.