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Overbooked Flight Compensation - Claim When You've Been Involuntarily Bumped Off Your Flight

Last Updated .
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Based on 12,393 reviews.

If you were not allowed to board your flight because of overbooking, you can claim flight compensation up to £520 or get a full refund.

When Am I Entitled To Compensation When An Airline Overbooks A Flight?

Under EU Regulation 261, airlines are legally obliged to compensate passengers who are bumped from a flight due to overbooking.

When an airline has oversold a flight and needs to remove passengers involuntarily, they are legally bound to provide the following.

  • To explain your rights if you are denied boarding due to overbooking
  • To provide an alternative flight to your original destination either on their airline or another airline
  • Compensation of up to £520
  • Care and assistance during your delay
  • To provide a full refund within seven days if you choose not to fly.

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When Can I Claim Compensation For An Overbooked Flight?

If you were involuntarily bumped off of your flight because of the airline overbooking, you have legal rights under EU Reg 261.

EU261 provides legal rights for passengers to claim compensation if they were bumped from their originally scheduled flight because it was overbooked.

To claim compensation, you must show that you were a responsible passenger and have not given the airline any reason not to allow you to board the plane. Your responsibilities as a passenger include:

  • You checked in for your flight on time, either online or in person at the airport
  • You have the necessary travel documentation, such as a passport, visa (where applicable), and boarding pass, to board the aircraft
  • You were present at the departure gate in adequate time to board the aircraft
  • You were not rude or displayed anti-social behaviour to fellow passengers or airline staff
  • You did not pose any safety or health risk to fellow passengers or airline staff
  • You were not intoxicated.

If you have fulfilled these responsibilities, you have a valid ticket, and there is no justifiable reason for not being allowed to board, you can claim compensation for the inconvenience and the delay to your travel.

How To Claim Compensation For An Overbooked Flight

Just add your flight details to our flight compensation calculator, and we can start the claim process for you.

What Flights Are Covered For Compensation When An Airline Overbooks A Flight?

Under EUReg 261, the following flights are eligible if you were bumped because the airline overbooked your flight.

  • Your scheduled flight departed from a UK or EU airport on any airline
  • Your scheduled flight was on a UK or EU airline and arrived at a UK or EU airport

Flights Covered By EU261

Departing From Arriving To Can I Claim?
Airport inside UK/ EU Airport inside UK/EU

Yes (Claimable for any airline)

Airport inside UK/ EU Airport outside UK/EU

Yes (Claimable for any airline)

Airport outside UK/EU Airport inside UK/EU

Yes (If on an EU based airline)

Airport outside UK/EU Airport outside UK/EU

No

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"What can I say? The firm was absolutely brilliant all I had to do was state what happened with my delayed flight forwarded the documents signed the terms and Bott &Co did what needed to be done got full compensation for myself and my sister. Sit back be at ease knowing you are in good professional hands!"

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How Much Compensation Can I Claim For An Overbooked Flight?

The amount of compensation you can claim for an overbooked flight will depend on the length of your delay and the distance of the flight.

The maximum compensation you can claim for a delay caused by an overbooked flight is £520 per passenger.

Our table below shows how much compensation you could claim if you have been bumped off a flight because of overbooking.

EU261 Flight Compensation Amounts For Overbooked Flights in UK Pounds

Flight Distance Less than 3 hours 3 hours or more More than 4 hours Never arrived
All flights 1,500km or
less

£0

£220

£220

£220

Internal EU flights over 1,500km

£0

£350

£350

£350

Non-internal EU flights between 1,500km and 3,500km

£0

£350

£350

£350

Internal EU flights over 3,500km

£0

£260

£520

£520

What Else Should The Airline Provide To Passengers If A Flight Is Overbooked?

Under EU Reg261, the airline is legally responsible for providing “care and assistance” to passengers who are bumped off their flight due to overbooking.

Care and assistance include:

  • Food and drink in reasonable relation to waiting time
  • Free hotel accommodation when a stay of one night or more is necessary
  • Free transport between the airport and the hotel
  • Two free telephone calls, emails, or fax messages

Care and Assistance – Your Rights When Your Flight Is Delayed

Flight Distance Length of Delay
Up to 1,500km

After 2 hours

1,500km-3,500km

After 3 hours

Over 1,500km and between two EU States

After 3 hour

Over 3,500km

After 4 hours

Can I Get A Refund From The Airline If I Am On An Overbooked Flight?

Yes, you can choose to accept a full refund from the airline rather than an alternative flight. This is often agreed upon at the gate, and once the refund is made, the airline is no longer responsible for arranging alternative flights or for paying compensation. The airline is legally responsible for paying the refund within seven days of the day of departure.

Recent Successful Flight Compensation Claims

What Happens If A Flight Is Overbooked In The UK?

Usually, airlines will announce at the gate that the flight is overbooked and ask if any passengers want to give up their seats voluntarily in exchange for a later flight, usually with an incentive such as air miles or an upgrade.

However, if the airline does not have enough volunteers, it may have to deny boarding to some passengers. Those who are bumped from their flight have legal rights under EU Reg261.

Can I Claim Compensation For An Overbooked Flight If I Voluntarily Gave Up My Seat?

No, compensation would not be due if you voluntarily gave up your seat and chose not to fly.

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Should I Accept Vouchers As Compensation When An Airline Overbooks A Flight?

It is common for airlines to provide incentives such as vouchers or air miles for passengers who have voluntarily given up their seats. However, if you have been involuntarily bumped off your flight, we advise you not to accept vouchers from the airline instead of compensation as usually, the vouchers will be of less value than the compensation you may be able to claim, and you may relinquish your legal rights by accepting them.

How Long After My Flight Can I Claim Compensation Overbooked Flights?

You have up to six years following the original departure date to start your claim.

Why Do Airlines Overbook Flights?

Unfortunately, overbooking flights is not illegal and is standard for many airlines.

Airlines overbook flights as they predict a certain number of people who have purchased tickets will not show up on the day of travel. Some travel experts have suggested that as many as 150 tickets are sold for every 100 seats available.

When the airline’s estimation of how many people will show up for a flight is incorrect, they have too many passengers and not enough seats. In these instances, they ask for volunteers to take an alternative flight. If they do not have enough volunteers, they may need to deny boarding for some passengers.

Meet Our Solicitors

Coby Benson

Coby Benson Head Of Flight Compensation Team At Bott and Co

A member of The Law Society and a SRA Registered Solicitor, Coby has been instrumental in establishing flight delay compensation law in the UK, including playing a significant part in the landmark cases of Huzar v Jet2 and Dawson v Thomson at The Supreme Court.

Coby is regularly asked for comment in the national media, regularly featuring in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Independent as well as appearing on BBC Television, Sky News, ITV and BBC Radio 4 and Radio Five Live.