SCOTTISH air passengers are owed almost £5m in unclaimed compensation for delayed or cancelled flights last summer.
EU rules allow passengers to claim up to £455 for disruption but huge sums remain uncollected because airlines keep the compensation scheme quiet, according to researchers.
Research by online legal service AirHelp suggests that 16,000 passengers who travelled from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen in the summer of 2015 were due compensation.
But the firm says only 1 per cent of passengers claimed the money they were owed.
Passengers using Edinburgh Airport were due £2.1m while the figure for Glasgow was £1.8m and at Aberdeen it was £940,000.
If only 1 per cent claimed compensation that suggests passengers claimed just £48,000 of the £4.84m owed.
The good news, according to the firm, is that passengers have up to five years to raise a claim.
The compensation rules normally apply even if only one of the airports used in the journey is within the EU and passengers do not have to citizens of EU states. A delay of more than three hours entitles each passenger to a minimum of £200. Cancellation can result in a payment of about £500.
AirHelp UK marketing manager Marius Fermi said: “The main problem is that less than two percent of travellers are aware of these laws.
“On top of that, the airlines make it extremely difficult for passengers to take the steps to assert their legal rights and file for the compensation that they are entitled to.”
Mr Fermi said airlines are obliged to display a notice at check-in desks which advises of the compensation schemes.
He added: “We hope that the airlines will finally live up to their obligations, and we invite them to an open dialogue, since current compensation litigation is suffocating the courts at the expense of the taxpayers.”
AirHelp have produced their own ranking of airlines based on how they handle compensation claims.
EasyJet and Thomas Cook received the lowest score of UK airlines, with British Airways leading the way.
AirHelp claims EasyJet – which is the largest UK airline in terms of passenger volume – is particularly bad at processing claims quickly.
The firm’s website states: “EasyJet’s claim processing helps to skew its score downwards. Based on the score, this makes the UK budget airline among the lowest scoring airlines in the world.”
A spokeswoman for the EasyJet said they did not believe the rankings were accurate picture.
She said: “EasyJet’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has published two reports on the handling of EU 261 by the fifteen largest airlines flying to and from the UK.
“In these reports, CAA confirmed easyJet was the only airline that was fully complying on paying compensation for technical faults and received a ‘very good’ rating for how we communicate with passengers during disruption.”
“EasyJet takes its responsibilities under EU261 very seriously and fully complies with all relevant legislation and passenger welfare obligations.”
The only time that compensation claims are voided, are in the case of ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Examples of exceptional circumstances include bad weather and airport staff strikes.