Overbooked flight is a common term we get to hear. While air travel is stressful enough, worrying about getting bumped because of an overbooked flight is an additional bother. Airlines practice overbooking to avoid losing the revenue generated per seat. If, due to any reason, a passenger is unable to show up for the booked flight, the seat will remain empty, and the airline will have to compensate for the loss. When multiple seats are empty, the loss may amount to thousands of Euros per flight.
To avoid such mishaps, airlines calculate how many seats go empty per flight and get an average. The average number of seats is then overbooked per flight, although there is no exact science behind it, and often it is an airline’s prerogative on how many seats to overbook. Since some seats are bound to go empty anyway, this practice usually does not cause much harm. This article was updated on September 2023.
- Overbooking is a common practice among airlines to avoid revenue losses due to empty seats, but during peak travel seasons, it can lead to passengers getting bumped off their flights.
- Airlines prioritize certain groups of passengers when deciding whom to bump, such as those who check in late or purchase discounted tickets. Passengers traveling first or business class, those who are frequent flyers, elderly, families with young children, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied minors are less likely to get bumped.
- If you get bumped off a flight, stay calm and get in touch with the airline’s representative. You are entitled to refreshments, phone calls, and compensation. Be sure to collect all necessary documentation and follow the proper procedure to file a claim for compensation.
However, during the holiday season or peak travel season, overlooking flights can wreak havoc. While people travelling during non-peak seasons may seldom face such a situation, travellers trying to reach their destination often face the possibility of getting bumped. Getting bumped means being denied entry onto the flight because of overbooking. Since the passengers are at the airport with their family, kids, and luggage, not boarding because the airline was overbooked can be seriously infuriating. Not to mention, many times people are travelling for purposes that are time-sensitive such as appearing in exams, participating in a business meeting or attending a conference. Delays in such situations may lead to missing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Who Gets Bumped?
But how do the airlines decide who to bump? Can anyone get bumped? Well, there are no hard and fast rules on who to bump when an airline is overbooked. However, airlines often look for passengers who check in late. These passengers can get bumped and not even receive compensation for their trouble. Another group that is vulnerable to getting bumped is those who purchased discounted tickets. If you bought the ticket at a lower price than usual that was not available to the general public; you might not be eligible for compensation. But those are not the only people getting bumped.
Airlines do not want to incur the wrath of those travelling first class and business class. So those passengers are least likely to get bumped. If you are travelling alone, in economy class, purchased the ticket at a discounted rate, or were late to check-in, your chances of getting bumped are incredibly high. Similarly, there are some groups of people who are less likely to get bumped when a flight is overbooked. These include frequent flyers, the elderly, and families with young children, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied minors. If you belong to one of these groups, chances are you won’t be getting bumped.
What To Do If You Get Bumped?
The airlines try to look for passengers who might give up their seats voluntarily. These people are offered compensation by the airline in alternative transportation, discount vouchers, free air miles, ticket refunds, and even monetary compensation. If volunteers opt to stay back, there is no problem for the remaining passengers. However, when no one is willing to wait for the next flight, the airline decides to bump passengers.
If you get bumped, try not to panic. Get in touch with the representative of your airline and inquire about their policy regarding bumped passengers. You are entitled to refreshments and phone calls during the delay which you should make use of. Other than that, make sure to collect as much documentary evidence about your flight as you can. This may include tickets, boarding passes, online check-in information, and also get a written statement from the airline about why you got bumped. All this information can then be used to demand monetary compensation for your delay and the unnecessary hassle you had to go through because the flight was overbooked.
If you are unaware of the rules regarding bumped passengers, want to find out whether you are eligible for reimbursement, and need to know approximately how much amount you are entitled to receive, you can simply visit this page and find out exactly how to proceed. Not only that, but you can also use the flight compensation calculator by putting in your departure and arrival cities and get an idea about the amount you are entitled to according to the EU laws.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do airlines overbook flights?
Airlines overbook flights to avoid losing revenue generated per seat if a passenger does not attend the flight. By overbooking, airlines ensure that most of their seats are filled, and they do not have to compensate for empty seats.
Who gets bumped when a flight is overbooked?
Airlines often look for passengers who check-in late or those who purchase discounted tickets. Passengers who travel alone, in economy class, and are late to check-in, have higher chances of getting bumped. However, frequent flyers, the elderly, families with young children, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied minors are less likely to get bumped.
Can airlines bump passengers without compensation?
Airlines can bump passengers without compensation if the passenger voluntarily agrees to give up their seat or has no confirmed reservation. However, if the airline bumps passengers involuntarily, they are entitled to compensation, which depends on the ticket price and the length of the delay.
What compensation do airlines offer to bumped passengers?
Airlines offer compensation in the form of alternative transportation, discount vouchers, free air miles, ticket refunds, and monetary compensation. The payment amount depends on the ticket price and the length of the delay.
What should I do if I get bumped from a flight?
If you get bumped from a flight, contact the airline representative and inquire about their policy regarding bumped passengers. You are entitled to refreshments and phone calls during the delay. Make sure to collect as much documentary evidence about your flight as possible and get a written statement from the airline about why you got bumped.
What can I do if I’m not satisfied with the compensation offered by the airline?
If you’re not satisfied with the compensation offered by the airline, you can file a complaint with the regulatory body responsible for aviation consumer protection in your country or region. This is the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the United States.
Does travel insurance cover bump flights?
Some travel insurance policies cover flight delays, cancellations, and overbooking. Passengers should check their policies to see if they are eligible for reimbursement.