Although we’re most familiar with flight delays and cancellations, overbooked flights are actually fairly common. Maybe it’s because you don’t see it in ominous red letters on the departure board that it still seems a rare occurrence. When it comes to getting compensated after getting bumped from a flight, it can seem pretty daunting and your options may not be so clear than when your flight is delayed or cancelled.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, there’s no need to worry! I’m here to help:
Denied boarding, overbooked flight, getting bumped – what’s the difference?
It helps to start with the terminology. Denied boarding is an umbrella term, which covers a broad variety of situations where the passenger is not allowed to board the plane (we’ll get into this later). If you get bumped from a flight, you’ve been denied boarding because the flight is overbooked. Now, why on earth is your flight overbooked? Well, it’s unfortunately common practice for many airlines to sell a higher amount of tickets than there are seats on the plane. This is because, these days, they can forecast how many passengers are likely not to take their flight. The system clearly isn’t foolproof, however, and this is when passengers get bumped.
What are other reasons for denied boarding?
Although the most common is overbooking, passengers can be denied boarding for several reasons. If you pose a risk to yourself or others (for example if you’re very ill), you shouldn’t be allowed on the plane. This goes for being intoxicated, too. Additionally, if you don’t have the correct documents, or turn up past the check-in deadline, it’s likely you’ll be denied boarding. Deadlines are in place for a reason and most airlines won’t wait for you!
The flight’s overbooked, what now?
The airline should first of all request volunteers. If enough passengers volunteer, great – you still get to jump on your flight. However, if no – or not enough – passengers step up, there is a risk you’ll be bumped. At this point, passengers will be selected at random, and they really don’t have a choice in the matter. Yes, it’s frustrating and no, it isn’t fair, but if you read on, you’ll see that hope is not lost!
What are my rights?
Make sure you have all your flight documents with you and guard them with your life! They’ll be vital if you need to claim later. You should be given the choice of a ticket refund or an alternative flight by the airline. Watch out for flight vouchers! Often the airline will offer these and it seems like a good deal at the time – however, vouchers usually have an expiry date, plus you have to be sure that you’ll actually find a flight, at a convenient time for you, to a destination you want to go to. Stand your ground – you’re not obliged to accept these. On top of the refund or alternative flight, you’re entitled to services such as free meals and means of communication, plus accommodation if your flight departs the following day.
Can I get compensation?
Yes, you can! In fact, you can receive up to 600 € from the airline! Bear in mind, this compensation is as well as the additional services plus refund or alternative flight, not instead of them. It’s possible to pursue the case yourself – however, these days you can simply claim online with MYFLYRIGHT, so you don’t have to deal with the financial risk or stress of taking on the airline on your own. With a few clicks, it’s easy to figure out how much you’re entitled to, then you can let their travel experts handle your case for you.
Hopefully, I’ve made things a bit clearer and you can travel with ease, even faced with getting bumped from your flight! Have you ever had this experience? What did you do?