Updated on May 16, 2024.
Fact checked
writing Written

Overbooked flights can be a frequent and frustrating occurrence for many travellers. In the UK, laws are in place to protect passengers who find themselves in this predicament. Our guide serves as a detailed roadmap to understanding your rights, the compensation you may be entitled to, and how to navigate this often confusing landscape.

Check Your Compensation


Before Volunteering to Get Bumped

It isn’t uncommon to have your flight bumped, especially during busy holiday travel seasons, but it’s a big inconvenience. If you’re denied boarding, you might be wondering what type of compensation to expect from the airline.

Boarding denial happens when airlines overbook flights or make operational decisions to use smaller planes for flights. Whatever the reasons, you are entitled to compensation when you are denied boarding.

When you travel in the United Kingdom, UK261 offers you protection when your flight is cancelled or delayed. These regulations also protect you when you’re denied boarding due to overbooking.

Airlines often overbook their flights, especially during the holidays, but when it comes time to bump someone off a flight, they have to follow specific procedures.

Before you volunteer to get bumped, you should make sure that what you are being offered is greater than the compensation you would receive if you were to file a flight compensation claim.

First, the airline has to ask for volunteers. If you volunteer to get bumped in exchange for a refund and vouchers, you won’t be eligible to receive any other type of compensation.

Next, airlines can choose to bump people with the lowest airfare. If staying on a flight is important to you, it might be better to choose a business-class ticket to avoid getting bumped from your flight.

Airlines can also bump those last to board, so make sure to check in early if you don’t want to be denied boarding.

Overbooked Flight Compensation in the UK

If you have been denied boarding on a flight protected under the regulations of UK261, you are  eligible to claim compensation. When you are denied boarding because the airline sold too many tickets or changed their flight plan to a smaller plane, it’s the same as if they cancelled your flight last minute.

If you volunteer to give up your seat in exchange for another benefit, such as airline miles or travel vouchers, you won’t be able to claim any further compensation. You also won’t be able to claim compensation if you were late for your flight.

Other instances where you won’t be eligible include when you present a security risk, a health risk, or you are missing travel documents during the boarding process.

Compensation For Boarding Denial

In cases where you can claim boarding denial, you will be entitled to compensation based on the type of flight you booked.

Under UK261, you are entitled to the following compensation when you get bumped from your flight.

Type of FlightDistance of FlightLength of FlightCompensation
Type 1932 miles or more1-2 hours£220
Type 2932 to 2175 miles2-4 hours£350
Type 3More than 2175 milesMore than 4 hours£520

You can calculate your flight distance bellow.

Where were you flying to?

Overbooked Flight Compensation

When you are denied boarding because your flight is overbooked, you have the same rights that you would have if your flight was cancelled at the last minute.

Flight cancellations mean that the airline must provide you with the following options:

  • Full refund, including a return flight to your original departure point, at no cost to you,
  • Alternate flight to your original destination, even if it’s on another airline,
  • Booking on another flight to your original destination at another date.

Airlines have a “duty of care” obligation that they must fulfil if your delay is longer than two hours. If you choose to accept an alternative flight, the airline must provide other accommodations for you, including refreshments, meals, and communication.

When your delay is longer than six hours, they must provide hotel accommodations, including transportation to and from your hotel.

Delays on a Re-Routed Flight

If you choose to be re-routed, the airline must get you to your destination as soon as possible. The same rules apply when you are denied boarding as when your flight is cancelled at the last minute.

Type of FlightArrives LateCompensation
Type 1
(932 miles or more and 1-2 hours)
Arrives 2 or more hours later than original arrival time£220
Type 2
(932 to 2175 miles and 2-4 hours)
Arrives 2-3 hours later than original arrival time£175
Type 2
(932 to 2175 miles and 2-4 hours)
Arrives 3 or more hours later than original arrival time£350
Type 3
(More than 2175 miles and more than 4 hours)
Arrives 2-4 hours later than original arrival time£260
Type 3
(More than 2175 miles and more than 4 hours)
Arrives 4 or more hours later than original arrival time£520

Airlines are also required to make special accommodations for passengers with disabilities and small children.

Has your flight been overbooked?

Don’t let overbooked flight issues cost you – get compensated up to £520!
Check Your Compensation

How to File a Claim Under UK261

When you are denied boarding due to an overbooked flight, the airline will often pay you cash immediately for the inconvenience. You will be eligible for a refund for the fare and compensation for the inconvenience.

When you file a claim, contact fill out UK261 compensation form and send it to an airline.

If you need assistance, a flight compensation companies can make filing a claim much more manageable. They will assist you with the entire process to ensure a successful result whenever possible.


You should know your flight compensation rights when you travel with a UK airline. You enjoy the same protections under UK261 when you book a flight on an airline in the UK as you do when you fly in the EU. Not all countries enjoy these same protections.

When you’re bumped from a flight due to an overbooked flight, you have the same rights as you would if your flight was cancelled at the last minute. If you don’t want to be bumped, make sure to arrive early and pay for a premium ticket to avoid travel disruptions.


Claim up to £540 for your overbooked flight.

All countries
All airports
All airlines
Check Compensation