We regularly encounter cases where passengers have been denied boarding because the aircraft has been overbooked. Can the airline do this? Yes, but of course not without consequences. The airline must compensate you for the seat that they’ve sold you, but you haven’t used in the end.
Overbooked flight: more tickets were sold than the number of seats on the plane.
Why do airlines overbook flights?
The reason is actually very simple. Regularly, passengers do not arrive on time (to the airport itself or because a previous flight has been cancelled or delayed) and some seats will be left unused. They have enough insights on their flights in order to assess which flights often fly with empty seats. The airline must have filled around 80% of the plane to break even.
Another reason why they keep on doing it: overbooking often goes right rather than wrong. It is very advantageous for airlines to continue with the practice. There are enough alternatives in case of overbooking. Passengers can always be moved to business class. However, don’t bet on getting that free upgrade if your flight has been overbooked.
What happens if an aircraft is overbooked?
When the aircraft is overbooked, the airline usually asks if there are passengers willing to voluntarily give up their seats. They then receive a certain benefit or compensation. If there are not enough volunteers, the airline shall proceed to refuse its service to the number of passengers that cannot be seated.
So you’ve been denied boarding due to overbooking, what to do now?
Do you opt for a refund of the amount of your ticket? Then the airline must refund the amount within seven days. If your plane is overbooked while making a stopover, you may choose to receive a refund of your trip and a flight back to your home airport. You are also entitled to, of course, be flown to your final destination as soon as possible. This can even mean flying a different route and with a different airline.
If you choose a different flight, the airline must offer you care until your new flight departs. Care is understood as meals, refreshments, beverages and possibly a hotel.
Claiming compensation for an overbooked flight
If you are not allowed on the flight because it has been overbooked, the airline should grant you financial compensation according to European law. These are set amounts; so if you are offered anything other than the amounts below, do not accept it unless you are sure you have been offered a better deal.
How much compensation do I get If I’ve been denied boarding?
The amounts are set by Regulation EC 261/2004. They refer to the distance you were supposed to travel and are the following:
- €250,- for all flights covering a distance fewer than 1500 kilometres
- €400,- for all flights covering a distance from 1500 to 3500 kilometres
- €600,- for all flights covering a distance greater than 3500 kilometres
Here’s a handy chart to remember the amounts. Also, please remember that the amount is set in euros by the law. So the amount in pound sterling may vary according to the exchange rate.
Flight-Delayed will help you claim your compensation for your overbooked flight!
If you’ve been denied boarding due to an overbooked flight, you may be entitled to compensation. Even if this happened while connecting outside the EU. Your rights are still covered if you were flying from the EU or with a European airline! You can check your flight for free and then choose to submit your claim with Flight-Delayed. Best of all, our 25% win fee will cover all the costs associated with claiming your compensation, even the legal ones! So, do not wait any longer and exercise your rights:
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