Overbooking (Boarding Denied) – Understand Your Rights And Know What To Do


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Denied boarding happens when the airline sells more tickets than an aircraft can handle, causing more passengers than available seats. When this type of problem happens, it is the company’s responsibility to offer a solution to the passenger who could not board – after all, this is a situation entirely caused by the company itself.

Have you been a victim of denied boarding? Know what to do in the face of this problem and understand your rights.

What to do in case of denied boarding?

When an overbooking occurs, the airline must offer the affected passenger different solutions and he must choose the one that best suits him. Therefore, when prevented from boarding, the first thing the passenger must do is go to the service counter of the company responsible for their flight and ask for the solution they prefer.

It is possible to choose between being re-accommodated on another flight to the same destination, rescheduling the flight for a new date and time, having a full refund of the airline ticket – including the amount of the boarding fee – and completing the trip with another means of transport, if possible.

It is essential to know that, in cases of denied boarding, airlines look for volunteers who agree to board the next flight for compensation. Therefore, if you are approached by someone from the airline offering the option to travel on another flight, review the offer before accepting it.

In addition, you can still complain to consumer protection bodies, to do so, simply access the website of your state’s agency and file the complaint online or by phone, or, if you prefer, go to an accredited post.

What are the rights of the passenger who suffered an overbooking?

As soon as the airline realizes that some of its passengers will not be able to board, it must look for volunteers who agree to board another flight. These volunteers have the right to receive compensation, which can be in cash, tickets, miles, and hotel stays, among other benefits.

However, it may happen that no passenger agrees to volunteer in this situation. In this case, to passengers who do not accept the offer, the company must offer the following solution options:

  • Receive a full refund of the airfare, including the boarding fee
  • Rebook your flight for your preferred date and time, at no additional cost
  • Be re-accommodated on the next flight to the same destination on the same or a different airline, if necessary, at no additional cost and if seats are available
  • Conclude the trip by another means of transport, if possible.

The above options are offered if the passenger is at the departure airport. If he is at the stopover or connection airport, in addition to these 4 alternatives, he can still remain at the airport where the trip was interrupted and receive a refund for the stretch not travelled.

In addition, the passenger may still be entitled to material assistance according to the waiting time, as described below.

From 1 hour of waiting, the airline must offer free means of communication to the passenger, such as calls and internet access.

After 2 hours of waiting, the passenger is entitled to food. Therefore, the airline must provide kits with snacks and drinks, or vouchers for consumption at the airport.

From 4 hours onwards, the airline should offer accommodation and round-trip transport options. However, if the passenger is in his city of residence, he will only be entitled to transportation.

This assistance can only be suspended in case of full or partial reimbursement and flight rescheduling. In other situations, it should be maintained.

The rights mentioned above are valid only in the USA. Abroad, the practice of overbooking is allowed and happens frequently.

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