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Overbooked Flights

Do, 04/20/2017
Boarding A Flight

In the past few weeks there have been numerous incidents in the media surround airlines overbooking their flights.

United Airlines experienced a PR disaster at the start of April when Dr David Dao was dragged from a flight after refusing to leave his seat, not only was Dr Dao injured but images emerged all over the internet and United faced worldwide backlash when it claimed the doctor was forcibly removed to make space for the airline to transport its own staff.

A similar thing happened the following day, but this time without anyone being hurt. A couple was asked to leave their EasyJet flight from London Luton to Catania when there weren’t enough seats on the flight. The pair were not informed by the airline about their rights to compensation, consequently they were left in the lurch when they could not make it to Sicily, where they had booked non-refundable stay and transport worth around €1,500.

A Canadian family went through an ordeal when they were told their ten year old son would be able to board their Air Canada flight with them because the plane was overbooked.

This is not something new; airlines often sell more seats than they have available. It’s completely legal and is done for several reasons, the airline wants to be sure it’s making the most money it can for every seat and they know that some people are likely to miss the flight. Most of the time the airline’s careful calculations of how many people are likely to miss particular flight routes do work, but recently airline overbooking has been shoved into the spotlight, leaving many of us wondering, what do we do if this happens to us?

In the EU air passengers are protected under Regulation 261/2004. The regulation covers delayed flights, cancelled flights and passengers who have been denied boarding.

In most cases, airlines do not have to remove people from their flights by force; they can simply request volunteers to give up their seats in return for other rewards.

If you are told you cannot board and the airline have not found anybody who is willing to give up their seat voluntarily, then you are automatically entitled to compensation. Additionally the airline should provide you with either a refund or rerouting and cover your welfare expenses which arises directly from being denied boarding.

Keep hold of any written evidence you might get of the flight being overbooked and not being able to board, your unused boarding pass, luggage receipts will come in handy too. If you don’t receive any formal paper acknowledging that you could not board your flight ask the airline staff to put it in writing for you.

Receipts for any extra transport you might need to take or receipts for food and refreshments should be kept as evidence in making a claim for welfare expenses.

The compensation you are entitled to for being denied boarding is set out as follows:

- €250 for all flights of up to 1,500km,

- €400 for all flights of between 1,500km and 3,500km,

- €600 for all other flights over 3500km.

Please note the EC Regulation 261/2004 only covers flights where the departure airport is in the EU or Switzerland, Norway or Iceland, or flights with an EU airline.

Get Paid When Delayed has been created with your rights in mind. It’s a free online community platform where you can learn about EC Regulation 261/2004, find out how much you’re entitled to claim, work out your flight distance, get in touch with the airline by looking up their contact details and create a complete personalised claims letter to send to the airline.

Simply click Start Your Claim to get started.

Or head to Lost & Found if your baggage has been lost, damaged or delayed.