Denied Boarding, Overbooking and Downgrading

Guidance for passengers who have been denied boarding or had seats downgraded.

The following information applies to all flights from European airports. It also applies to all flights to European airports, from outside of the European Union (EU), on an EU airline. (EU in this sense includes all EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland)

If the airline has overbooked the flight you are booked on, or for another reason which means the airline cannot put you on the flight, you may be ‘bumped’, which is also known as denied boarding. This means that the flight leaves, but you are not on it. You can sometimes be bumped with your agreement in which case you are a volunteer, or you can be bumped without your agreement in which case you are a non-volunteer.

Volunteers in cases of overbooking 

In cases of overbooking, where you agree to give up your reservation, the airline and you must agree on what compensation you will accept. This might be vouchers. In addition, they must give you either a refund of the ticket price if you decide not to travel within seven days or an alternative flight with the same airline.

Refund

The refund could be the full ticket price if you decide not to travel, or the part of the ticket not used, and a return flight to the departure airport. This would depend on whether missing the flight you are ‘bumped’ from means you have missed what you were flying for, and your onward travel no longer has a point so you would like to return home.

Re-routing to your final destination 

If you do not want to have a refund, the airline must re-route you to your final destination as soon as possible, or at a later date if that suits you better.

If you choose to travel as soon as possible the airline must provide care and assistance while you are waiting for your new flight. If the re-routing goes to another airport in the destination city, the airline must pay for you to get to the original airport or a close-by destination of your choice.

If you choose to travel at a later date the airline is responsible for providing an alternative flight subject to availability, but it will not be required to provide care and assistance. 

Non-volunteers in cases of overbooking

If you are ‘bumped’ off your flight and giving up your reservation was not voluntary, then you are entitled to compensation known as denied boarding compensation. In order to qualify for compensation, you must:

  • Have a valid ticket and travel documents 
  • Have a confirmed reservation
  • Have checked-in by the deadline given to you by the airline, and be;

Compensation

The airline must give you either a refund of the ticket price within seven days or an alternative flight, plus additional compensation based on the delay time of the alternative flight offered by the airline.

 

Compensation for flight cancellations

Flight Length

0 – 1,500km
e.g. Manchester > Frankfurt

1,500 – 3,500km
e.g. Newcastle > Majorca

3,500km +
e.g. London > Delhi

Delay to destination

(based on delay of proposed alternative flight)

Up to 2 hours

More than 2 hours

Up to 3 hours

More than 3 hours

Up to 4 hours

More than 4 hours

Compensation

€125

€250

€200

€400

€300

€600

You are not entitled to reimbursements of any other components of your trip affected by the overbooking such as hotel or transfer costs at your destination unless you are on a package holiday. Being on a package holiday gives you extra rights

Re-routing to your final destination

If you do not want to have a refund, the airline must re-route you to your final destination as soon as possible, or at a later date if that suits you better.

If you choose to travel as soon as possible the airline must provide care and assistance while you are waiting for your new flight. If the re-routing goes to another airport in the destination city, the airline must pay for you to get to the original airport or a close-by destination of your choice.

If you choose to travel at a later date the airline is responsible for providing an alternative flight with the same airline subject to availability.

The airline should provide you with meals and drinks, and hotel accommodation where appropriate while you wait for your flight. You may prefer to return home if it is possible to do so and return for your later flight, in which case you should inform your airline. 

Downgrading

If you are downgraded to a class lower than the class you paid for on a flight from an EU airport (this includes all EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) or on an EU carrier flying from an airport outside the EU to an EU airport then you are entitled to:

Length of journey

Reimbursement

Up to 1500km

30% of the price of the ticket

1500-3500km

50% of the price of the ticket

More than 3500km

75% of the price of the ticket

On most other flights it depends on the airline. You may not get back as much as you expect due to how the airlines calculate the price of the seat they move you to. Most airlines will refund only on the sector affected.