Why Do Airlines Overbook Flights?

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Traveling by air is an efficient way to get from one place to another, but it can also be a source of frustration when flights are overbooked.

Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve arrived at the airport only to find out that your flight has been full and you need to wait for the next one? If so, then you know how annoying this experience can be. But why do airlines overbook flights in the first place?

Did you miss a connecting flight? File a compensation claim online.

People walking at the airport

Why Airlines Overbook Their Flights?

Why do airlines overbook flights?

The answer is very simple. Airlines overbook flights because they assume that not all passengers will show up for their scheduled flights. By selling more tickets than there are seats available, airlines are able to maximize their revenue and reduce the number of empty seats on a flight.

When airlines overbook a flight, they use statistical models to predict the percentage of passengers who will not show up.

While overbooking can help airlines increase their profits and reduce empty seats, it can also lead to customer dissatisfaction and negative publicity if handled poorly. Therefore, airlines must strike a balance between maximizing revenue and ensuring a positive customer experience.

What Happens if Your Flight Is Overbooked?

What happens if a plane is overbooked?

Airline overbooking can lead to situations where there aren’t enough seats for all passengers who have booked a ticket.

If a flight is overbooked, the airline will typically ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for compensation such as vouchers, free flights, or cash.

Airlines have policies and procedures in place to determine who will be asked to give up their seats first, which may be based on factors such as check-in time or frequent flyer status.

If there are not enough volunteers, the airline may involuntarily bump passengers off the flight. In this case, European regulations require airlines to compensate passengers who are involuntarily bumped from a flight due to overbooking.

Read more:

Voluntary vs Involuntary Denied Boarding

There are 2 main types of denied boarding: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary denied boarding occurs when a passenger voluntarily agrees to give up their reservation in exchange for a new flight, and amenities such as flight vouchers or cash compensation. Keep in mind that you don’t have agree to this.

If not enough passengers agree, the airline will involuntarily deny boarding to some of the passengers. This is called involuntary denied boarding

Sofas and chairs at an airport
Sofas and chairs at an airport

What Are Your Rights if You Are Denied Boarding?

No matter the reason for denied boarding, it is important for airlines and passengers to understand their rights and responsibilities throughout the process. It is also imperative that airlines are transparent about their policies regarding denied boarding so that passengers know what to expect when making a reservation.

In order to protect passengers from unnecessary disruption during travel, the EU has adopted policies that regulate denied boarding and ensure that passengers are treated fairly. This includes providing compensation for travelers who have been involuntarily denied boarding, as well as ensuring that airlines promptly notify passengers of any flight changes or cancellations.

The laws are very similar in the UK and EEA countries.

When it comes to air passenger rights, unless otherwise stated, we talk about air passenger rights in the EU, EEA and UK. When we say Europe or European, we mean EU, EEA or UK. This is done for the simplicity, since the according laws in these countries are about the same.

Voluntary Denied Boarding

If you are denied boarding voluntarily, you are entitled to right to receive care while you wait for your replacement flight. 

  • If you have to wait 3 or more hours, you are entitled to a free meal and internet access or 2 calls. If it is not offered, ask your airline.
  • If you have to wait all night or even longer, you are entitled to both food and a free hotel stay + transportation to the hotel and back to the airport. For this you will have to leave the airport, and you may need a visa for transit. Be prepared for that!

If you are denied boarding voluntarily (you’ve agreed to give up your seat travel later), you are not entitled to EU denied boarding compensation.

Involuntary Denied Boarding

If there are no volunteers who agree to give up their seats and travel later, some people might be denied boarding involuntarily. If you are one of them, you are entitled to receive care and denied boarding compensation.

The amount of this compensation depends on the distance of your flight. 

Here’s how much you can claim:

  • 250 EUR – if the flight distance is less than 1500 km;
  • 400 EUR – if the flight distance is between 1500 and 3500 km;
  • 600 EUR – if the flight distance is more than 3500 km.

Was your flight overbooked? Were you denied boarding? Did you accept the airline’s offer to travel later (voluntary denied boarding)? Or were you denied boarding involuntarily? If it was involuntary, you are entitled to compensation. Make a claim and get compensation of up to 600 euro!


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