You have probably heard a lot of awful stories about overbooked flights from overseas. And yes, who hasn’t? With various media outlets regularly broadcasting horrendous footage of passengers dragged out of an overcrowded plane in front of other travellers, a common European might even think that such ghastly things can only happen somewhere across the Atlantic or in some most uncivilized corner of the world. But, in fact, overbooked flights also tend to happen in good old Europe.
Despite the fact that they are relatively rare (and probably could explain those disappearing ‘this flight is sold out’ signs you definitely saw at least once while booking a ticket), such flight disruptions not only happen almost everywhere – overbooked flights also happen as unexpectedly as tarmac delays or flights which dramatically fail to depart on time. But unlike other flight disruptions, overbooking happens almost entirely due to the airline’s fault. But how does a flight get overbooked?
The most common cause is, of course, an excessive number of tickets sold for a single flight. As in the era of impossible-to-overlook ultra-low-cost carriers’ flourishing, a lot of travellers can buy themselves a plane ticket as spontaneously as never before, no-shows are more common than ever. So a lot of air carriers consider selling more tickets than there are seats aboard the airplane as a more-than-wise practice.
But what happens if all of the passengers who bought tickets for a single flight undergo check-in procedure and arrive at the boarding gate just to find out that there won’t be enough seats on the plane for every one of them? That’s right, it’s the overbooking we are dealing with.
So what should you do if you ever face one? Just remember a few basic things.
Consider the situation
Sometimes you can foresee it. After you have arrived at the airport, left your luggage at the counter and done the check-in procedure, occasionally there already can be signs of potential flight overbooking. A most common indication of such an unfortunate event is usually written on the boarding pass itself. How to know if your flight is overbooked?
No assigned seat number or any abbreviation which may refer to the absence of the seat assignment (as GTE for example) instead of two digits and a letter you are used to see can point to the situation where you could be denied boarding due to flight overbooking.
What should you do then? The first advice is to reach the boarding gate on time anyhow. And if the real overbooking situation occurs then? Well, there is already a common practice established – so just take our next advice.
Review your options
So, your flight was overbooked – either because the airline apparently sold too many tickets for trip or because it messed up with the crew scheduling and there weren’t enough flight attendants to take care of the fully packed plane. Anyway, it is obviously the airline’s fault so you know that you would be entitled to flight compensation. The only way for the airline to legally avoid such an obligation is to find a volunteer – or several if needed – who would give up their seats on their own free will.
If you won’t volunteer, it doesn’t mean that the representative of the airline who is trying to take care of the situation won’t find another one – or even, let’s say, five volunteers if they will need that many and will be lucky enough. How do airlines decide who gets bumped? Much cannot be done, so airlines usually offer them something nobody will be able to resist.
Evaluate the airline’s offer while deciding if it’s worth to volunteer
The main thing here – which is worth to notice either way – is the miss of the right to compensation for the volunteer who gives up his seat on the given flight as the airline offers him something really worth it in return. So the basic advice here is pretty simple: if you are declaring yourself a volunteer, better do it for the really great offer.
Of course it’s a priority for the airline to find the necessary number of volunteers who would give up their seats for as little as possible, so evaluate an offer given by the airline wisely. The offer should be more valuable than the price of rebooking or – in most cases – the compensation you are about to drop. It is rationally reasonable for them to offer you a voucher for your next flight which could be worth even a few hundreds – but it’s often for you to find out (usually, much later) that it came with a lot of restrictions.
For example, it usually can be redeemed only for the flights of the same airline, used only for a limited number of destinations, valid for a very limited period of time and so on. So consider as many outcomes as you can and consider what negotiating position you are about to take in advance.
How much compensation for an overbooked flight?
The original amount of overbooked flight compensation specified in Regulation (EC) 261/2004 depends solely on the distance of your flight.
Do not forget what airline owes you
Of course, considering all the aspects mentioned above, your agreement with the airline may seem more than advantageous for you if the carrier promises you a monetary refund rather than vouchers or travel checks. But the thing you should be aware of is the proper documentation of such an agreement.
As airlines most often try to turn the event of the flight overbooking into the least disadvantageous situation possible, it is not uncommon to dodge the final payment as the passenger believes that all is settled in a most favourable way – at least on their side.
And if you finally realise that the airline delays the agreed payment along with some obvious perfidy in communication, you can always contact Skycop. We are working hard to help our clients even on cases like this – even if that means going all the way to the court or taking other legal proceedings.
Ask for the care and your overbooked flight compensation
What are your rights if your flight is overbooked? If you did not volunteer but still were denied boarding due to flight overbooking, you gain the right to care after two hours of waiting for your alternative flight (it’s the airline’s duty to offer you the most suitable one). When you finally get to your final destination, you shouldn’t forget that you are entitled to overbooked flight compensation.
How to get compensation for an overbooked flight?
Even if it may sound like the most difficult part, in fact, it can be the easiest one if you’ll decide to claim your overbooked flight compensation via Skycop. Just fill in our short claim form and we will take care of the rest. Seriously, all you’ll have to do is to – eventually – submit some additional documents, relax and wait for the final decision. And most probably the money will reach your account without any additional hassle.