It is normal practice for airlines to oversell the number of seats on a plane. This is done to account for no-shows and travelers who do not arrive on time for the flight. Delayed or canceled flights are also a common reason for airlines to oversell their flights as in such cases, some seats are left unoccupied. In case of an oversold flight, airlines bump passengers from their seats. The excess passengers are then booked onto an alternative flight by the same carrier or a different one, depending on availability. Excess passengers can also be denied boarding by the gate attendant. Being part of this lot means more time for you on the ground and a disrupted travel schedule.
Buying a flight ticket comes with certain rights that the airline must meet. If you're on an oversold flight, the airline can give you an upgrade on an alternative flight. This means that if you had booked economy class, you may travel in business class if there is space. Passengers are also asked to give up their seats voluntarily. In this case, the airline provides what you need to stay comfortable as you wait for your rescheduled flight. This includes food, drinks, and accommodation if the wait goes overnight.
When you're denied boarding, you're entitled to compensation, which is something AirHelp can assist with. If you choose to return the ticket unused, the airline is under an obligation to give you a full refund of any money paid for the flight within seven days. In case of an oversold flight at a layover, you may give up your seat voluntarily or request a refund and a flight back to your airport of origin.
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AirHelp is the world's largest air passenger rights organization, here to help air travelers secure compensation for delayed, canceled, or overbooked flights.
We make claiming compensation easy and stress-free. Whether you are unsure of your rights, lack the time, or simply want an expert to handle your entire claim for you, AirHelp can help you get what you are rightfully owed.
We operate on a no win, no fee basis, so you can check your compensation risk-free.
How do you know when you should claim compensation for a delayed or canceled flight? Though the law can be complicated, we're here to break it down for you:
Delayed flights: you may be able to claim compensation if your flight arrived 3 hours or more late.
Canceled flights: you may be eligible for compensation if your flight was canceled less than 14 days before it was due to depart.
Overbookings: you are owed compensation any time you are denied boarding through no fault of your own — so long as you didn't voluntarily give up your seat.
We should note that if extraordinary circumstances were involved, arirlines are under no obligation to pay compensation. Examples of extraordinary circumstances include bad weather, travel restrictions, and air traffic control strikes. Though these situations cause delays and cancellations, the airline isn't at fault, so can't be expected to offer compensation.
Remember these are European flight regulations and so only apply to flights departing from an EU airport, or flights landing in the EU with a European airline. The table below makes it clear which flights are covered:
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Table shows values in € as specified in EC 261
In some circumstances the compensation amount may differ from the standard amounts shown above. The easiest way to find out what you’re owed is to use our Compensation Calculator.
If you experience a flight delay or cancellation, here's what you should do:
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