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Overbooked Flight Compensation

Overbooking is flauntingly referred to as ‘oversold’ tickets in the aviation industry. This is one of the dreaded situations for the air traveller who has confirmed reservation on scheduled flight, (often made days in advance), reports in time at the gate but is denied to board an aircraft.

The airlines typically sell more tickets than the available seats on the flight in the anticipation that all booked passengers will not turn up and few last minute cancellations are characteristically experienced. The main reasons for this are often due to cancellations or delays on part of the airlines (like connecting flights) as well as last minute changes in travel plans of passengers.

In order to keep cushion for absorbing losses due to empty seats on account of such cancellations in any operating flight, all airlines resort to some calibrated percentage of overbooking. The passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding are also called “bumped” passengers.

Why Airlines Overbook Flights?

Most airlines realized from experience that the likelihood of every booked passenger showing up on the scheduled time of their booked flight is remote and started overbooking their flights.

While in modern times the airlines use sophisticated and advanced computation tools to assess the limits of overbooking for different flights to eliminate the last minute discomfiture at the gate; a certain element of uncertainty always remains imminent in the process. Whenever these calculations go haywire, it is the genuine traveller (s) that is made to suffer.

In the US, Denied Boarding Compensation (DBC) payable to the bonafide passenger by the airline as well its responsibilities and liabilities have been elaborately articulated in the guidelines issued by Department of Transportation (DOT) in its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) law which governs US Air Passenger Rights.

Similarly, European Union (EU) also has clearly defined EC Regulation 261/2004 in place to address to the situations in which any air traveller is denied boarding despite confirmed reservation.

Understanding Your Rights On Overbooked Flights

In the event of overbooked flight, one of the probable scenes at the airline desk in Europe is, the flight attendant requesting the passenger(s) to take another flight. This is often accompanied with the lure of some travel vouchers to assuage the agitated passenger. Usually, these vouchers begin with twice the cost of the regular fare ticket and can go even higher if you show reluctance to accept the offer.

In case the boarding denial and consequent delay does not bother you very much and the free travel voucher offer looks attractive, there is no problem in accepting the same in the spirit of mutual adjustment. However, it is important for every air passenger to know that every time you buy a flight ticket, a mutual contract of carriage is concluded between you and the airline.

This contract of carriage implicitly defines the boundaries of legal obligations for both the parties into the contract. The fine print of the contract typically contains that in the event of overbooking of flight, and for which enough passengers do not voluntarily agree to accept accommodation in alternate/later flight, the boarding may be denied despite confirmed reservation.

In this situation, if you are denied boarding and rerouted through alternate/later flight, which reaches the destination at least one hour delayed from the originally scheduled flight, the airline owes you compensation for the delay (depends on the terms & conditions of the airline).

Notwithstanding anything contained in the terms and conditions of the carrier airline, the statutes of European law EC 261/2004 hold priority over them. If your flight is overbooked and the transportation is denied, you are entitled to claim financial compensation under the EU law and we at Claim Flights can help you in the process.

As per the existing provisions, the amount of compensation payable to any passenger who has been denied boarding due to overbooking is distance dependent and is as follows:

  • 250 Euros for all flights within 1500 km;
  • 400 Euros for flights between 1501 to 3500 km and
  • 600 Euros for flight distances over 3500 km.

The last provision for flights beyond 3500 km is applicable on flights leaving EU boundaries.

Claim Flights - We Help Passengers To Be Aware Of Their Rights

If any passenger has been denied boarding due to overbooking and is agreeable to directly accept the compensation or travel vouchers offered from the airline in the course of mutual settlement; the airline shall direct you to sign an undertaking which will foreclose your option to seek/claim any compensations for the case at any forum in future.

It is thus very crucial for the air traveler to be aware of their rights and the claim amount which can be sought under EC Regulation 261/2004. In case the offer from the airlines exceeds the compensation entitled by the Regulation (which is very unlikely), there is no harm in accepting the airline’s offer on the spot.

Should you feel that you are short-changed by the airline in their offer and are not willing to accept it, the expert services of Claim Flights in fair settlement of compensation claims for overbooked flights is always available for you. We have developed simple, transparent and hassle-free procedures for expeditious settlement of such claims.

Use Our Free Compensation Calculator

All passengers, including the US citizens, can use our Flight Compensation Checker to find out the exact amount of compensation entitled to them by filling the basic details like flight number and flight date. Our services are open to passengers of all nationalities but are limited to the jurisdiction of applicability of EC 261/2004 only.


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