There are a number situations where an airline may choose to deny your boarding, the most common reason by far being overbooking. It is the practice where an airline sells more tickets than the number of seats available in the aircraft. It is fairly common and almost every airline does it. On an average, in the UK alone, 150 tickets are sold for 100 seats, and it is to make up for all those who may cancel or not show up at the last minute. It is not illegal for flights to do this, but in case few passengers are left behind, they are eligible for a denied boarding compensation.
How it works
If you are at the check-in point of your flight, you may hear an announcement promising some attractive offers and vouchers for those who are willing to take the next available flight. It is the first sign of an overbooked flight. The airline then has to follow a set procedure to begin the process of denied boarding.
The airline will ask for volunteers
When the flight is overbooked and there are not enough seats on the flight to accommodate all of the passengers, then the airline will ask for volunteers to give up their ticket. It will assure such volunteers of certain amount of rewards and offers along with a ticket on the next available flight. The airline will begin the process when people step up. The main benefits, as outlined in the EU regulations are:
- Refund of the ticket when passengers do not wish to travel
- Re-routing of the passengers to their destination at the earliest
- Re-routing, at a different date and at a more convenient time for the passengers
If there are not enough volunteers, then the flight will have to deny boarding or begin bumping.
When there are not enough volunteers
If the airline does not receive enough number of volunteers, it will have to begin the denied boarding procedure, against the will of the passengers. The reward options are similar to those offered to the volunteers.
In case the passengers do not wish to be re-routed, then they are eligible for a denied boarding compensation in addition to their ticket refund. The rules for the amount of refund have been outlined in Article 7 of the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 under Rights to Compensation.
- €250 for all flights that are within 1500 kilometres.
- €400 for all flights that are intra community between 1500 and 3500 kilometres.
- €600 for all flights that are long haul, and do not come under the first two categories.
In addition to the above mentioned denied flight compensation, the airline will also have to provide care to the passengers who are denied boarding. Food, accommodation, transportation between the accommodation and the airport as well as a way to contact and keep friends and family informed are some of the benefits offered to them.