Over the past year, I have had two cases where the airlines screwed up a bit and I had to incur a loss because of them. In both cases, I managed to get back at least a part of my money.
The first one was a year ago, before everybody used e-ticketing. I bought a ticket from Lufthansa two weeks over the Internet before my flight date, hoping that they would be able to ship them to me in this time. Boy was I wrong. I kept calling their customer service who assured me that the tickets would make it. Well, they lied. I finally showed up at the airport where the ticketing counter saw my booking but told me that the only way to make it to my flight would be to re-purchase the tickets right there (ouch! they cost around 1000 EUR :( ), and then claim the money back from Lufthansa later. Since I was fortunate enough to have this money on my credit card and really had to make the flight, I did just that. (But what are less wealthy people supposed to do, who can’t just throw out money like that?)
So long story short, the original paper tickets arrived when I was already enroute on my trip, which was super anti-helpful. I then contacted their customer support and after a few weeks of back and forth by email, I mailed them the delayed tickets and stubs and indeed got the double purchase refunded, less 100 or 200 € of “processing fee”. Why do I have to pay for them wrecking my nerves is still a mystery to me, but hey, I got at least most of it.
And now a month ago, I flew Austrian Airlines, Pittsburgh to Washington DC to Vienna to Florence. And somewhere en route, they managed to misplace my luggage. (Delayed luggage happens to me about once every two years. I hope I have now made my sacrifice to the luggage gods for the next two years.) I filed a luggage claim at Florence airport and the luggage showed up three days later. I had to buy some clothes meanwhile, and I filed a claim with Austrian to get this refunded to me.
Again, there was a few weeks back and forth by email, and generally they were pretty helpful. And now I got 50% of it refunded, as it’s apparently their policy to refund just half. Which is, again, at least something.