What Happens if My Flight is Overbooked?15 Nov 2018

What happens if my flight is overbooked?

Imagine making your way through security, passing the time in the departures lounge, only to be told that the flight is full because it has been overbooked.

A nightmare, but unfortunately this does happen and its never lovely if it’s you who ends up being bumped from the flight. But if the airline is unable to find a seat on a flight you have booked, you may be entitled to assistance and compensation.

You’re probably thinking, “Why do airlines book more people onto a flight than there are seats on the plane?” And common sense would suggest they didn’t do that, but not everybody turns up for their flight, despite having booked one, but for more severe issues, such as a change in plane, the airline may be forced to into using a smaller aircraft than originally planned, resulting in fewer seats available. This means that occasionally too many people will try to check in for a flight, resulting in some passengers being asked or forced to give up their place on the plane.

Sometimes you don’t get a choice whether you’re bumped or not, which means you’re probably not going to be best pleased. But the silver lining is that you are entitled to compensation, so you will at least get something back for the disruption caused, providing you’ve checked in for your flight on time that is. The level of compensation depends on the length of your flight and the timings of the alternative flight you are offered.



You can decide to ‘take one for the team’ and volunteer to be bumped, and this is where it’s up to you and the airline to agree on compensation. More often than not, airlines will make an announcement at the gate offering compensation, which might be cash or vouchers of some sort. Additionally, if you do decide to raise your hand and volunteer as tribute to leave the plane, you are entitled to an alternative flight or a refund.
No matter whether you were forced to be bumped or willingly volunteered, your airline must also let you choose between the following two options:

Receive a Refund

You can get your money back if you do not want to fly. A refund for all parts of the ticket you haven’t used will be issued should this be the option you choose.

Choose an Alternative Flight

The airline must always offer you an alternative, then it is down to yourself as to whether you would instead choose to fly as soon as possible or at a later date that may be more convenient. If you opt for the former, the airline must provide care and assistance while you wait for the flight. This includes food and drink and, in some cases, even overnight stays.



The problem of with airlines overbooking flights is increasing, and for some passengers, the not knowing of whether they’re going to get to their destination or not is the only thing they can think of. But surely there’s a law that means airlines can’t overbook flights? Surprisingly there isn’t, which means it is perfectly legal for an airline to overbook a flight, but they can’t just decide to not let you on because they’re not a fan of your holiday shirt you bought months ago in anticipation for your trip. Even though it is in the airlines best interest to oversell their flights, that does not mean you should suffer when their calculations on passenger numbers are incorrect.

Remember you can learn more about your rights when visiting our website, where you can see all the criteria and information you may need if you are considering making a claim. Whether this is because of overbooking, or something else such as a flight delay or a cancelled flight, you could be owed compensation.



What happens if my flight is overbooked?

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