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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.

Which? Legal 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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Meet your experts
James Attew Prior to joining Which? Legal in September 2018, James advised in relation to consumer, commercial, and property disputes at various firms in the South of England See profile
Peter Litchman Peter qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and joined Which? Legal as a legal adviser in January 2007. He advises on all aspects of consumer law, tenancy issues, and neighbour disputes. See profile
Adrian Schwab Adrian joined Which? Legal in June 2017 as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. Adrian received his Bachelor in Law degree from the Holborn Law School in 2006. See profile
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