Overbooked Flights Unraveled: Your Roadmap to Airline Compensation

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In an ideal world, once you buy your plane ticket, you should be allowed to board the plane on the day and hour of your choice. The problem is that airlines have this “backup plan” to prevent the airplane from flying empty, overbooking in case someone cancels. 

In 2022, a total of 7,143 passengers were denied boarding on the plane, and this was only between January and March. The trend did not change much to this day. 

a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky

If you are announced ahead of time and have no problem being put on a different flight, this could be of no issue. However, if you need to be somewhere at a specific time, this sort of flight disruption could cause problems. As an air passenger, you have rights, and this article will teach you how to get airline overbooked compensation.

When Can You Get Airline Compensation for Overbooked Flight?

As a passenger, you are protected by the EC261/2004 regulation should you be bumped from a flight. If you find yourself at the gates and realize they are forcing you to take a different flight, you can get up to 600 EUR in compensation. This aims to cover any inconveniences you may have experienced due to the incident.

Cropped photo of a man in a face mask and a Caucasian woman standing at the airport

That said, certain circumstances must be met for you to be eligible for the maximum amount. This can include the following: 

  • The flight landed or took off from an EU airport, regardless of the airline.
  • It was not your choice to give up your seat and get a voucher in exchange.
  • You haven’t yet received compensation for your troubles.
  • You’ve had this issue with an airline less than three years before.
  • You were denied boarding due to something that wasn’t under your control (i.e., late arrival or missing documents).

Airline compensation for overbooked flight can be provided months, even years, after the flight took place. This is convenient because not everyone has the time or energy to deal with an airline, especially when denied from a connecting flight. You are entitled to compensation if you were made to wait for the next plane and went through unnecessary stress or expenses. 

What to Do When Denied Boarding Due to Overbooking

If you are denied boarding due to overbooking, there are specific steps that you should take, such as: 

1.Don’t Volunteer Your Spot on the Plane

When overbooking happens, the airline will try to convince you to give up your seat in exchange for benefits or vouchers. If you take them up on their offer, then this takes away your right to file for compensation. 

Indeed, if the offer they make is compelling enough and covers your expenses (and then some), you should take it. That said, if it’s a lot under 600 EUR, you will likely want to pass – especially if you are in the right.

2.Get the Necessary Information

The next thing you should do is to ask for the necessary information as to why you were denied boarding. While overbooking is one of the main causes of this happening, it’s not always the case. 

For instance, you may have been denied boarding because you arrived late at the gate. In this case, the airline is not responsible. That said, if the reason is clearly overbooking, then you will need this information when filing the claim. 


3.Gather Your Travel Documents and Receipts

The next step is to gather all your travel documents, such as your boarding pass or receipts. This is a recurring problem for many, especially as more than 25% of people just prefer to throw away the receipts. 

This might be a disadvantage, especially as you could be eligible for compensation for any unnecessary expense. Keep every document (paper or digital) at hand, just in case you need it.

4.Ask for an Alternate Flight

No matter where you are in the world, you can request to be put on a different flight without any additional charges if the price is higher than the initial flight. The EC261/2004 also says that you can request a refund and a ticket for a return flight if you were denied a connection flight. 

5.Make a Request for Compensation

You are entitled to file for airline compensation for overbooked flight immediately, which means you can do it at the airport. However, this doesn’t mean that if you leave, you can’t file anymore. 

Depending on where you are, you can file even after 1 to 5 years, depending on the country’s regulations. However, it is recommended to file as early as possible, to prevent loss of documents.

6.Ask for Meals and/or Accommodation

In the best-case scenario, if you are denied boarding due to overbooking, you can catch a flight right after the missed one. However, if you are waiting for more than 3 hours, then the airline is required by law to offer you meals and refreshments. 

Similarly, if the denied boarding causes you to spend the night in the city, they must provide accommodation. Keep in mind that should this happen, they are also obliged to pay for the transportation fee.

7.Seek Legal Help 

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the airline might choose to ignore your plight and refuse to offer you compensation for your troubles. If this happens and you know you are in the right, you should hire an attorney to help you get justice. If you use the services of a flight claim company, they will take all these necessary steps for you.

The Bottom Line

If you were stopped at the gate from boarding the flight despite having a valid ticket, you can opt for airline overbooked compensation. Keep calm, gather all your data and documents, and file while everything is still fresh. This way, you can receive the rightful compensation.

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