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external legal counsellor Jeroen De Man. “Around one per cent of the flights in or from Europe or to Europe with a European carrier are either cancelled or have more than a three-hour delay.” Compensation of up to 600 euros can be received. Happy Flights works on a no cure, no pay basis. You pay 25 per cent commission and a 25-euro administrative fee per person, including VAT, if you receive compensation. If you have travel insurance with a company that works with Happy Flights, you will not have to pay any charges. In that case, Happy Flights informs passengers in real time by text message if they are eligible for a compensation and they can click a link to start the process. The message even states the height of the compensation they are likely to receive. Steven Willems, chief flight engineer, is proud of this feature: “Before you get a chance to get aggravated by the delay, you have already received the solution by text message.” At the moment, most customers make use of Happy Flight’s service via their
travel insurance or travel agency, but it is also possible to directly make use of the service via the website. “We have made filling in the form as easy as possible,” Van Hende says.
Complicated legislation Happy Flights cooperates with law firm De Groote - De Man in Ghent, Belgium, to structure and supervise claim handling. “We streamlined the process and made it very easy while always being sure to respect the law to the letter,” says De Man. “As a result, misunderstandings and mistakes are avoided.” Via associated law firms in other countries, the company delivers claim handling and legal operations throughout Europe. Compensation can be claimed up to two years after the flight. “The legislation is not easy to interpret, even for us it’s sometimes complicated,” De Man confesses. But in some cases, you know from the start there is no use in filing a claim. “For example, when you are stuck at the airport in Chicago because of heavy snow, you are not entitled to compensation because this is an example of
a circumstance the airline could not have foreseen.”
Happy customers In 2016 only, more than 5,000 passengers have been made happy with compensation. “That number makes us happy, but the stories behind those numbers make us even happier,” Van Hende smiles: “A few months ago, a couple was travelling to Barcelona to attend a wedding. They missed part of the ceremony because of a massive delay. Thanks to Happy Flights, they received a 500-euro compensation and used the money to buy a present for the newlyweds: a city trip to Brussels.” Right now, most of Happy Flights’ customers come from Belgium and in 2017 the company intends to spread their services to other European countries. Another plan is to eventually handle claims worldwide. In some countries, there is similar legislation as in the EU. “All the positive reactions we receive motivate us to continue,” concludes Van Hende. “We love to make people happy.” www.happyflights.eu/en
Issue 37 | January 2017 | 41