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Overbooked flights

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If you get bumped off an overbooked flight

Airlines tend to overbook flights as not all passengers turn up on the day. When a flight is so overbooked that passengers are denied boarding or offloaded – commonly known as being bumped – the airline will usually ask for volunteers. But if no-one comes forward, each airline will deny boarding to passengers in line with its own policies. You might be more likely to be denied boarding if you’re travelling alone or without luggage, have paid the lowest fare or were the last to check-in.

As long as you checked in on time, you can claim

Airlines are legally obliged to pay you compensation if they deny you boarding or bump you from a flight because they’ve overbooked it. The compensation you’re entitled to is affected by a number of factors, including whether you were forcibly bumped or you volunteered. Depending on the length of your delay, the airline must give you things like food, drinks, accommodation and two free phone calls or emails. In the EU, if you're denied boarding or bumped from a flight, you must also be offered an alternative flight. And if you don't want any alternative flight offered, you're entitled to a refund.

How we can help

As a consumer, you have important legal rights when, through no fault of your own, you’re denied boarding or bumped from a flight. Our team of legal experts can advise you on these rights, the possible compensation the airline should have offered you, and how to make a claim. When you speak to us on the phone we’ll take the time to properly understand all the circumstances, and how the airline lived up to their duty of care. We’ll:

  • listen to what happened and explain what your rights are
  • talk you through the possible compensation you might be entitled to
  • help you understand what steps you can take to make a claim
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Sanchia Pereira Sq Sanchia Pereira Sanchia specialises in advising on motoring offences having previously worked for the Crown Prosecution Service. See profile
Harry Flint 360 360 Harry Flint Harry joined Which? in February 2021 and has become one of our consumer rights specialists. See profile
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