upstarts airhelp

Nicolas Michaelsen is on a righteous mission to help fliers get compensated for their airline grievances.

Over 8 million airline passengers are entitled to money for their airline woes every year, but less than 2% get the funds they're entitled to.

"The problem is trying to figure out what your rights are," said Michaelsen, 32, co-founder of AirHelp.

From delays to overbooked flights to cancellations, many airlines try to appease customers with vouchers when they're actually entitled to much more -- and once they accept the voucher, those rights go out the window.

Since it launched in 2013, the Y Combinator-backed AirHelp has been doing the dirty work on behalf of its customers. It has a 70-person staff -- 15 of whom are lawyers -- and it's not afraid to take airlines to court.

"There will always be something in the world that annoys me that I want to 'fix.' I generally hate things that don't make sense, or are artificially bureaucratic or inefficient," said Michaelsen, who is based in New York City. -- S.O.

Related: Airlines owe fliers $10 billion

First published June 24, 2015: 8:22 AM ET

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