Overbooked or oversold flights have become a common occurrence, especially for frequent fliers. If you are travelling during the holiday or peak tourism season, you should look for overbooked flights. Airlines often oversell the flights during these times as the ticket prices are at an all-time high, and letting even one seat go vacant on a plane can mean a loss for the airline.
To avoid this, airlines oversell the flights considering some passengers will inevitably not show up at the last minute. This often holds true as despite having confirmed bookings, some passengers are a no-show for a number of reasons. By using specialized computer software, airlines determine the number of seats likely to go empty if some passengers do not show up. The software uses data from previous flights along with the same route and the number of seats that were vacant per flight. By getting an average of these, it predicts roughly how many seats can be oversold.
However, this software makes an informed guess. Although the chances of it being right are high, they’re not 100%. The software does not consider the possibility of all the passengers with booked seats showing up to the board, which is also a common occurrence. When this happens, airlines have to make the decision of leaving some passengers behind. These are known as the bumped passengers. This article was updated in 2024.
- Airlines oversell flights during peak seasons to avoid losing money from vacant seats, which may lead to overbooking.
- Passengers can inquire about overbooking by contacting their respective airlines or using apps that show available seats per cabin.
- If your flight is overbooked, airlines will usually ask for volunteers to give up their seats and offer compensation in return. However, passengers have legal rights to compensation if they are bumped involuntarily.
- Passengers should negotiate for advantageous compensation if they agree to give up their seats, and they are entitled to reimbursement even if they are travelling with frequent flyer miles.
- To learn more about overbooked flights and their compensation, passengers can visit relevant web pages and use compensation calculators.
How To Find Out If Your Flight Is Overbooked?
If one knows the airline is overbooking certain flights, the passengers will be mentally prepared for the possibility of staying back and boarding another plane. However, there is no fixed way to find out if your flight is overbooked. Since overbooking usually happens during peak season, passengers can contact the customer service representatives of their respective airlines and inquire about overbooking. You can either call their helpline or contact their socials, but not all information received through these channels will be helpful or reliable.
Another way people guess if a flight is overbooked is by looking at a seat map of the aeroplane; gate-assigned seats can mean that a flight that doesn’t look full at first is actually sold out. Many people also use some apps that are now available. These apps can tell you how full the flight is by showing the number of available seats per cabin. If there are zero available seats in each cabin, the flight is possibly overbooked.
What To Do When Your Flight Is Overbooked?
When a flight is overbooked, it is the airline’s responsibility to see if any passengers are willing to give up their seats and stay behind on their own accord. These passengers are compensated according to the negotiation carried out between the volunteer and the airline. There are no hard and fast rules regarding what the airline can offer or what the customer can demand. If you were bumped unwillingly, make sure to drive your hardest bargain.
According to EC regulation 261/2004, a passenger bumped off an overbooked flight is entitled to monetary compensation of $280 (€250) to $700 (€600). The exact amount depends on the distance your flight covers and not on the purchasing price of the ticket. Some circumstances under which a passenger may not be entitled to monetary compensation. Those include:
- When a passenger arrives late at the check-in, a passenger should reach the gate with at least 45 minutes or more remaining from departure. If they are late, the airline reserves the right to bump them in favour of passengers reaching the gates earlier.
- If the ticket was purchased through an offer or discount not available to the general public.
Keep in mind, if the flight was overbooked and you were offered an alternative flight that takes you to the same destination, but you had to face a delay of 2 hours or more, you are entitled to monetary compensation. You will not, however, be allowed to claim compensation if :
- You directly agree to accept the vouchers.
- You accept the airline deals.
- There exist extraordinary circumstances.
If you give up your seats and take the airline up on their offer, they will make you sign an undertaking. While accepting any offers, make sure to opt for an advantageous one. Even if you are travelling with frequent flyer miles, you are still entitled to reimbursement.
If you are unsure about how to proceed with making a claim for your overbooked flight, want to know more about different circumstances surrounding such an event, or want to know how much money you are entitled to, visit this page and find out all the information regarding overbooked flights as well as use the overbooked flight compensation calculator and find out exactly how much money you are entitled to!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an overbooked flight?
An overbooked flight is when the airline sells more tickets for a flight than the available seats on the plane.
Why do airlines overbook flights?
Airlines overbook flights to avoid losing money due to no-show passengers. By overselling, they assume that some passengers will not show up and the flight will not be full.
How do airlines determine how many seats to oversell?
Airlines use specialized computer software to determine the number of seats to oversell. The software uses data from previous flights on the same route to predict how many seats will likely go empty if some passengers do not arrive.
How can you tell if your flight is overbooked?
You can look at the seat map of the plane or use some apps that show the number of available seats per cabin. If there are no available seats in each cabin, the flight is possibly overbooked.
What happens if your flight is overbooked?
If your flight is overbooked, the airline may ask volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for compensation. If there are no volunteers, the airline may involuntarily bump passengers.
What compensation are you entitled to if you are involuntarily bumped from an overbooked flight?
Under EC regulation 261/2004, a passenger bumped off an overbooked flight is entitled to monetary compensation of $280 (€250) to $700 (€600), depending on the distance covered by the flight.