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Overbooking Compensation: What You Need to Know

Have you ever shown up for a flight, only to find out there’s no seat for you? This can happen when airlines sell more tickets than there are seats on the plane, a practice known as overbooking. It’s frustrating, but the good news is you might be entitled to compensation. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Do Airlines Overbook Flights?

Airlines overbook to make sure flights are as full as possible. They count on some passengers not showing up. Most of the time, this works out. But sometimes, everyone shows up, and there aren’t enough seats for all.

What Happens If You’re Bumped Off a Flight?

If there are too many passengers and not enough seats, the airline will first ask for volunteers to take a later flight. They usually offer travel vouchers or cash as a thank you. If not enough people volunteer, some passengers might be bumped off the flight against their will. This is when you could get compensation.

Your Rights and Compensation For Overbooked Flights

In the UK and the EU, if you’re bumped from a flight due to overbooking, you have specific rights under EU Regulation EC 261/2004. This includes flights leaving from an EU or UK airport and flights arriving in the EU or UK with an EU or UK airline.

Compensation Amounts

The amount of compensation depends on how far you’re travelling and how long the delay gets you to your final destination. It can range from €250 (about £220) for shorter flights to €600 (about £530) for longer ones.

Other Entitlements

Besides cash compensation, you’re also entitled to care from the airline if you have to wait for a later flight. This means they should offer you meals, refreshments, and accommodation if needed. Plus, they should cover the cost of getting you to and from the hotel.

How to Claim Your Compensation For Overbooked Flights

Keep Your Documents: Save your boarding pass and any other travel documents.

Ask Why You Were Bumped: This can help your case.

File a Claim: Contact the airline to claim your compensation. Be clear about what happened and what you’re asking for.

Seek Help if Needed: If the airline doesn’t respond or you’re not happy with their offer, you might want to get professional help. Here is where we come in, use our handy free calculator to see if you could be entitled to compensation for overbooked flight and we can take it from there.

Important Steps For Overbooked Flights: Your Rights

When your flight is overbooked, airlines might try to smooth things over by offering you some perks. But be careful, accepting these offers could mean you lose out on the chance to get more money back for the hassle.

Here’s what you should do if your flight is too full:

  • Don’t rush to give up your seat for vouchers or other goodies. If you do, you might miss out on getting compensation for not being able to board. Sometimes the offer might be worth it, but that’s your call to make.
  • Keep your boarding pass and any travel papers handy. Lost your boarding pass? Any document with your booking reference will do. This is a six-digit code, sometimes with letters and numbers, that the airline gives your booking.
  • Find out why you can’t board. Often, it’s because the flight’s overbooked. Knowing exactly why can help if you decide to ask for compensation later.
  • Ask for another way to get to where you’re going. Or, if you’d rather, ask for your money back for the ticket and a flight back to where you started from if needed.
  • Ask for compensation right there and then. If you’re stuck because the flight’s overbooked, the airline should pay you on the spot, along with sorting out another flight or giving you a refund.
  • If you’re waiting around, the airline should offer you food and drink. It’s not just being nice; it’s often something they have to do by law.
  • Need to stay overnight? The airline should pay for your hotel and travel between the airport and the hotel.
  • Keep any receipts for extra costs. If being bumped costs you money, like missing a hotel booking or car rental, you might be able to get those costs back, especially for international trips, even within the EU.

Tips for Avoiding Being Bumped

Check-in Early: Airlines sometimes bump passengers who check in last.

Pick Your Seat in Advance: If you can, choose your seat when you book your ticket.

Join the Airline’s Frequent Flyer Programme: Loyalty can sometimes protect you from being bumped.

Being bumped from a flight because of overbooking is a pain, but knowing your rights can make the situation a bit easier to handle. Remember, you’re entitled to compensation and care, so don’t be shy about asking for what you’re owed.

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