Airlines are greedy and want to load their aircrafts as much as possible in order to increase their revenue. In fact, every single flight can be overbooked up to 10% of its total capacity to cover a chance of no-show passengers and to eliminate the possibility of a free seat right next to you – what an unimaginable situation for all airlines! In this post, I will show you how denied boarding rules can work for you and how you can make a nice profit on it.
Well, once the flight is fully overbooked and there isn’t any no-show passenger on the flight, beside the fact that the airline has a lucky day, somebody must be bumped of the flight, voluntarily or involuntarily. Fortunately for you, denied boarding is regulated both by European Union and the U. S. legislation so you don’t have to be a victim of airlines’ common practices and you can control the situation.
In this post, I will explain denied boarding procedures according to European Union’s Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 which is applicable on every flight that comes from European Union or to European Union with an EU based airline. If you are interested in the U.S. rules, just let us know via comments and we will prepare another post with this topic soon.
Don’t accept airline vouchers.
When the airline expects denied boarding on its overbooked flight, the airline staff must first call for volunteers that would surrender their reservation in exchange for benefits individually agreed between the volunteer and the airline. In addition to that, volunteers must be also offered the choice between these two options:
- Reimbursement of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought. The reimbursement must be made within 7 days and must cover the fare for the part of the journey that wasn’t made and for the part of the journey already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to your original travel plan. If you choose this option and want to be reimbursed, the airline must also provide you with a free return flight to the first point of your departure (according to your flight ticket), at the earliest opportunity.
- Re-routing under comparable transport conditions to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at your convenience (with availability of seats).
To be able to negotiate individually agreed benefits properly, you must know what you are entitled to receive in case of being bumped involuntarily. You need to know what you are giving up so you either request something lucrative for you or you don’t do that at all.
One of the most frequent airlines’ common practice is that they offer a voucher for bumped travelers primarily – and I strongly recommend you not to accept it. I heard a lot of stories when travelers had cheerfully accepted EUR 200,- flight voucher and their happiness disappeared when they found out that they were entitled EUR 600,- compensation paid in cash – so think twice before accepting the airline’s offer and go on with reading.
Once you accept the voucher, you enter a completely new agreement with the airline – it means that you waive your rights to further compensation.
Involuntarily denied boarding? You can get up to EUR 600,- immediately!
If an insufficient number of volunteers comes forward to allow the remaining passengers with reservations to board the flight, the airline may deny boarding to you against your will. In this case, you are entitled to be offered the reimbursement or rerouting option as described above together with financial compensation. Moreover, depending on your alternate rerouted flight, you must be offered meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time and if the stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, you must be offered hotel accommodation with respective transportation to and from the hotel – everything completely free of charge!
The financial compensation depends on the length of your flight:
- EUR 250,- for all flights of 1,500 km or less,
- EUR 400,- for all flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km,
- EUR 600,- for all flights of 3,500 km or more.
If you accept the option of flight re-routing, the amount of the financial compensation can be reduced by 50% in some cases when the arrival time doesn’t exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked by 2, 3 or 4 hours according to the flight length categories described above.
Request a cash.
Be sure that airlines will behave tricky again and will offer you flight vouchers instead of a cash but remember that you don’t have to accept it. The regulation states that the financial compensation must be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank checks or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers or other services. It’s useless to mention that a cash is the most convenient way so insist on it.
Be sure that airlines will behave tricky again and will offer you flight vouchers instead of a cash but remember that you don’t have to accept it.
As you can see, the interpretation of the legislation isn’t easy. There are many conditions and requirements that must be met in order to get compensations and airlines often take advantage of it. The main purpose of this post is to give you a general overview of the denied boarding issue but it’s not necessary for you to learn everything by heart. You can check your rights directly on our website and if you are entitled to compensation, we will pursuit your claims on your behalf for success-based fee.
It would be great if you share your opinions and experiences with us through comments. If you have any suggestions on what you would like to read about in a future, just let us know – we are here to make your air traveling flawless.