When a flight is overbooked the air carrier must call on passengers to volunteer their seats to other passengers. If volunteers come forward they are entitled to a sum of money or other benefits to be agreed between the air carrier and the passenger. The volunteers are also entitled to choose between an alternative flight or a refund of the ticket. If not enough volunteers come forward the air carrier can refuse to board passengers against their will.
If you are denied boarding against your will (though you arrived at the airport with a confirmed reservation, the required documentation to travel, and sufficient time to complete check-in, security and boarding procedures), you have the same entitlements as those whose flights have been cancelled and must be offered the choice between:
- rerouting to the final destination, or
- a refund for the part or parts of the journey not completed.
Care and assistance
If you choose rerouting, you should receive adequate care from the air carrier in respect of meals and refreshments (in reasonable relation to the waiting time), hotel accommodation (where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary), transport between the airport and the place of accommodation (where necessary) and two telephone calls, faxes or emails.
If you are denied boarding against your will, despite having presented yourself in good time with valid documentation to travel etc., the air carrier must offer, in addition to the care and assistance referred to above, the following compensation:
• €250 per passenger for flights of 1,500km or less
• €400 per passenger for intra-Community flights of more than 1,500km or for other flights between 1,500km and 3,500km
• €600 per passenger for all other flights
Please note that the above rules will not apply where the airline has reasonable grounds to refuse boarding to passengers. This would include health, safety or security concerns, inadequate travel documents or if the passenger arrives too late for the check-in or boarding procedures.