Friday, June 13, 2008

Passenger Anger Inc.

Skyrocketing fuel prices and cost cutting by airlines have led to an unprecedented lows in passenger dissatisfaction, to say the least. According to European Union legislation that came into effect in 2005, airline passengers are entitled to financial compensation for delayed or canceled flights, or if they're bumped from an overbooked flight. However, passengers aren't always aware of what they're entitled to, or don't have time to claim compensation. Which is where EUclaim comes in. A Dutch agency that launched in January, EUclaim processes claims on behalf of passengers, charging a contingent fee of 27% of successfully claimed compensation. In the five months since they got started, the company has netted its clients over EUR 100,000, averaging EUR 400-500 per passenger. Besides an easy online form that evaluates whether a claim is likely to result in compensation, EUclaim operates a desk at Schiphol Airport's departure terminal, and plans to open additional desks at London and Frankfurt airports. The agency also offers multinationals bulk discounts for processing claims on behalf of employees. While compensation isn't regulated by law in the US or most other non-EU countries, carriers do offer various degrees of compensation. Airline-specific policies may include reimbursement for meals, hotel rooms or phone calls. One to start up regionally? In a broader perspective, keeping track of new laws and regulations can often uncover potentially lucrative business opportunities. Hey—how's that for a new business: plough through all locally applicable regulation changes, specifically on the lookout for entrepreneurial opportunities. Post them online, for free, and you could grow a high-traffic website, generating revenue from related (premium) services or advertising.

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