Overbooked flights is something that airlines do on a regular basis, where they will sell more tickets to customers than the number of seats that they have available on a plane. They will then go through a process of trying to recruit ‘volunteer’ passengers to give up their reservations to alleviate the excess. But if they are unsuccessful with this, they will deny passengers to board without their consent who are there legitimately.

There are also instances where the airline will simply use a smaller plane for their flight in order to keep things profitable when their bookings are low and place some passengers on other flights.

Compensation for an overbooked flight comes into play when a passenger is denied to board a plane without their consent after they had already checked in according to airport guidelines, their travel paperwork was on point, and there was no type of security or health risk towards the other passengers or for the flight.

Overbooked Flight Compensation

If you don’t give your consent to be removed from a flight due to the flight being overbooked, you are most likely entitled to compensation. Remember, the price for the airplane ticket of the original flight has no bearing on the amount of compensation that you are entitled to. Even having booked with a low-cost airline enables you to claim compensation per the European Passenger Rights Regulation. If you are travelling for work and are denied boarding, the compensation will come to you and not your employer as you were the one that was put out.

In order for your claim to be reportable, the flight needs to have been leaving from Europe or, if it landed in Europe, the airline must be headquartered in Europe. Claims need to be filed no more than three years from the incident. As long as your event happened within a three-year time frame, you may file.

When the airline is responsible for denying a passenger boarding, passengers have a right to compensation for the overbooking based on the distance of the flight.

  • A short distance flight of upwards of 1500 km would bring approximately 250 Euro to the passenger.
  • Plans for a medium distanced flight ranging between 1500 km to 3500 km would allow compensation for approximately 400 Euro for the customer.
  • Longer distances of over 3500 km is going to bring the customer a compensation of approximately 600 Euro.

As a passenger who has had your seat taken away from you without your consent, you will receive not only compensation but also:

  • The airline will provide you with either a refund of the full ticket price or they will give you alternate transportation.
  • The airline will immediately provide you with food and drinks.

What To Do If Your Flight Is Overbooked

If you find yourself in a situation where your flight has been overbooked and you are asked to voluntarily give up your reservation but you choose not to and the airline revokes your reservation without your consent, there are steps you should take.

  • Don’t volunteer yourself to give up your seat for any reason, e.g. vouchers, perks, nothing. Doing this will give up any entitlement you may have to additional compensations. But, if the airline makes an offer that you can’t refuse, the choice falls with you.
  • Document as much as possible for proof including pictures, video, receipts, any added expenses that were incurred, vouchers or tickets, everything that happens while you’re stuck there. Keep tight hold of your boarding pass and other travel paperwork.
  • Inquire as to why you’re being denied to board. Most of the time the airline will indicate that they are ‘bumping’ you due to overbooking but there could be other reasons also. It would be a good idea to try to have this placed in writing as this is important information for claim filing.
  • You have the right to ask for another flight to get to your destination. Most airlines all over the world will offer another flight to get you where you want to go. Europe, per EC 261, has the option of obtaining a refund for your ticket as well as a flight back to where you departed.
  • Let the airline know that you want compensation for the denied boarding. In Europe this is covered by law providing you are eligible and the airline has an obligation to compensate you as well as offer a reroute with a different flight. In Europe compensation is to be given immediately while at the airport per EC 261.
  • Take advantage of the meals and refreshments that they are obligated to provide for you.
  • If you are being grounded and expected to stay overnight until you can get another flight, they should cover accommodations and transportation to and from the airport.

The requirements in order for you to be able to file a claim:

  • You must have checked in on time for the flight that you are scheduled for which is typically approximately 45 minutes prior to the departure.
  • The incident had to have occurred less than three years ago. Anything over that time period won’t be considered.
  • The airline has to be at fault for the overbooking or the reason that you were denied being boarded.
  • You need to have a ticket and booking that are confirmed.
  • The right to file a claim is there whether you are involved with a tour package or travelling for work.

Being denied boarding due to overbooking may cover a wide range of circumstances. If you happen to be denied boarding through absolutely no fault of your own, without your consent, the laws in Europe will make sure that you receive the compensation for your inconvenience.

If you have been denied boarding because of anything that may be your fault, these laws will not apply. If you didn’t have the appropriate documentation, arrived at the gate too late, or were acting in an abusive manner. These are things that will make the airline deny you access to the plane through no fault of theirs and there will be no flight compensation to you for these types of denials.

The laws are in place to protect customers who have done everything correctly and are due compensation for negligence on the part of the airlines. We just need to make the airlines more accountable.