American ranked #21 on the AirHelp ranking. (Susan Walsh/AP)

In a world where airfare — and airline profits — are growing and seat space is shrinking, it sometimes seems that all we can do to be heard is to pull out the ol’ Knee Defender. Or log on to GetAirHelp, a legal service that seeks compensation for passengers when a flight has been canceled or delayed. AirHelp has released a survey ranking 34 airlines, not only on performance and delays, but on whether — and how quickly — those airlines are willing to settle up with passengers seeking compensation.

AirHelp plans to add more airlines to the survey moving forward, “but for right now we’re limited to the larger airlines that we have the most claim data on,” said Cecilia Minges, public relations manager for AirHelp, in an email.

The highest ratings go to Qatar Airways and KLM, while easyJet and SATA International (a Portuguese airline) bring up the rear, according to AirHelp’s survey. The three American companies that were ranked fall solidly in the middle, with Delta leading the way, followed by United and American.

To use AirHelp’s service, fliers enter the details of a delayed or canceled flight online and AirHelp initiates a claim with the airline. To date, the business says it has helped nearly 350,000 people file claims and collect more than $33 million in compensation. Along the way, the service has amassed vast amounts of data, which informed the latest survey. The survey ranked the airlines on the following:

• Quality performance, using the scores of Skytrax, an international research organization that publishes independent reviews and ratings of airlines.

• Delay performance, based on departure times in the fourth quarter of 2015.

• Claim processing, using data based on how an airline handles and processes claims, including wrongful rejection of claims.

Here are the 10 top-ranking airlines and their AirHelp scores:

1. Qatar Airways, 8.9

2. KLM, 8.5

3. Air Baltic, 8.2

4. Air France, 8.2

5. Lufthansa, 8.2

6. Air Canada, 8

7. Emirates, 7.9

8. Croatia Airlines, 7.9

9. British Airways, 7.8

10. Finnair, 7.8

Here are the American rankings:

15. Delta, 7.6

20. United, 7.4

21. American, 7.35

Here are the bottom 10:

25. Norwegian Air Shuttle, 7.1

26. Icelandair, 7

27. Alitalia, 7

28. Iberia, 7

29. Aer Lingus, 6.8

30. TAP Portugal, 6.8

31. Swiss, 6.4

32. Virgin Atlantic, 6.2

33. easyJet, 5.8

34. SATA International, 5.2

See the full AirHelp ratings here.

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