When it comes to air travel, most passengers would expect that they would get what they paid for. Most of the time, this boils down to safely reaching their final destination at the specified time. Unfortunately, overbooked flights have been on the rise recently. Because airlines sell tickets to more passengers than their aircraft can seat, some travelers may not be allowed onboard.
Thankfully, EU Regulation 261/2004 protects any passengers that may have been involuntarily denied boarding. If this has happened to you, you may be entitled to denied boarding compensation of up to €600.
In this article, we will go over why overbooked flights happen and will detail how passengers could receive compensation from the airline for their denied boarding. Finally, we will let you in a few tips on how to get meals and refreshments during your wait for your next flight and how to make the most of your denied boarding.
Why do airlines overbook their flights?
It seems very counterintuitive. In this respect, airlines are considerably different than other service providers we normally encounter. Restaurants and hotels would very rarely overbook their tables or rooms.
The reason why passengers may be denied boarding on an overbooked flight is purely mathematical.
Not every passenger who buys a ticket, boards their flight. These no-show passengers leave the aircraft with a few empty seats. At some point, airlines realized that they could increase their profits if they sold more seats to more passengers than their planes could accommodate. If their math works out, no seats would be left unattended and no passengers would be denied boarding.
Unfortunately, the math doesn’t always come out as expected. (Especially since passengers could be entitled to overbooked flight compensation in the EU and in the USA)
When less than the expected number of passengers forego their seats, some travellers are bound to be denied boarding. But this scenario plays out more often than expected. In the US, more than 430,000 volunteers are “bumped” off flights every year.
The data is still to come out for denied boarding on EU flights.
Even though it is not illegal for airlines to deny boarding to passengers, affected travellers don’t have to simply accept the situation. They can make use of their rights to request compensation for denied boarding and care.
What is denied boarding, legally speaking?
Regulation EC261 defines denied boarding as the airline’s refusal to board passengers who:
- Have presented themselves to the gate on time
- Do not present a security/safety risk
- Present all of the required travel documents
In a sense, to be entitled to compensation, passengers need to satisfy all three of these conditions. At SkyRefund we have been in the position of having to explain to passengers that under EU law, they are not entitled to compensation for denied boarding if they were not at their gate at the required time.
However, in most cases, the passenger would not be to blame for her denied aircraft access.
In fact, most cases of denied boarding would be due to an overbooked flight. If so, passengers can claim denied boarding compensation.
My flight is overbooked. What happens now?
The moment you find out that your flight has been overbooked would be when an airline representative calls for volunteers to give up their seats for this flight. In return, the airline would offer them an alternative flight to their final destination. Sometimes the carrier would throw in a travel voucher to make the offer seem a little more appealing.
And if you are not in a hurry, it might make sense to accept this offer. You get more than what you originally paid for. However, if you give up your seat voluntarily, you would not be eligible to file a claim for denied boarding compensation.
In fact, you would probably be in a position to get a lot more out of the situation if you refuse the offer. If the airline involuntarily bumps you off a flight, you can claim overbooked flight compensation which begins at €250. This amount would easily beat what the airline would offer you as a travel voucher.
This is why it is important to know your air passenger rights before you are faced with an overbooked flight. It will allow you to make a more informed decision in case you are denied boarding to your flight.
If, after the airline’s offer, there are still not enough seats on the plane for all the passengers, the airline will be forced to deny boarding to some of its clients.
Passengers with reduced mobility, as well as any persons accompanying them, are protected by Regulation 261 and will not be bumped from their flight. Children travelling alone are also protected.
Denied Boarding Compensation
If you are among the unlucky passengers who are denied boarding, you can claim compensation for your overbooked flight. The only additional requirements for denied boarding compensation eligibility is that you depart from an EU airport OR the airline, operating your flight is registered in the European Union.
If your flight satisfies this condition, then the amount of compensation you can claim would be determined by the flight distance.
For flights up to 1500 km, you can claim 250 euros in compensation for your boarding denial. If your trip distance is anywhere between 1500 and 3500 km, you would be eligible for 400 euros. Finally, you can claim compensation for your denied boarding of up to 600 euros, if your flight spans more than 3500 km.
SkyRefund can help you claim your compensation for denied boarding. We will take all of the necessary steps to ensure that you receive what is legally yours. Meanwhile, you can sit back and relax. We will charge our 25% fee only if we successfully protect your right to compensation. Otherwise, you would not owe us anything.
In theory, your case of denied boarding should not be due to any extraordinary circumstances. In the instance of claiming cancellation or flight delay compensation, this would mean that there was not any bad weather, control tower restrictions or other exceptional events that caused the disruption.
In the case of denied boarding, however, this would rarely apply, as these considerations would not come into play. The only instances where extraordinary circumstances may apply would be if the passenger presents a threat to the safety or security of the passengers.
Needless to say that this would be an extremely rare occurrence.
Overbooked flight? You can claim more than just compensation.
As mentioned above, if you have been involuntarily denied boarding, you could claim compensation of up to €600. There is more, however, and if your flight has been overbooked, you can choose between the following:
- A full refund of the cost of your ticket and a return flight to your starting point of departure
- A seat on a replacement flight (either ASAP or at a later date)
Moreover, if you were denied boarding, the airline is required to provide you with meals and refreshments for the duration of your wait for your replacement flight. The carrier may give you a voucher but feel free to go over its value, if required. If you are not offered a voucher for food and drinks, you can still make all your necessary purchases. Remember to keep your receipts as they will allow you to claim reimbursement for your expenses later.
In conclusion, if you are denied boarding, you can either accept the airline’s offer or not. Here is what you will get in either case:
|Accept the offer||Reject the offer|
|Travel Voucher||Denied boarding compensation of up to €600|
|Food and drinks|