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An overbooked flight is when it has more passengers than it can accommodate. This usually happens when an airline has sold more tickets than there are seats on the plane. Airlines may overbook flights in order to account for no-shows and maximize profits.

When a flight is overbooked, an air carrier usually offers incentives such as vouchers or free flights to passengers who voluntarily give up their seats. If not enough passengers agree to give up their seats, the airline may be forced to involuntarily deny boarding to some passengers.

In this article, we’ll discuss common causes of overbooking, how to get overbooking compensation and ways to avoid such situations.

Overbooking: why does this happen?

Unfortunately, overbooking is a common and legal practice. Flight overbooking happens because airlines want to maximize their profits by selling more tickets than there are seats available on a flight.

This allows them to fill up their flights and make sure they don’t have any empty seats, which would result in lost revenue. Overbooking also helps airlines manage cancellations and no-shows, as well as last-minute changes in demand.

What do you need to do to get compensation?

To get compensation for an overbooked flight, you should contact the airline directly and explain your situation. You should also provide evidence of the overbooking, such as a boarding pass or ticket receipt. Depending on the airline’s policies and procedures, they may offer you a voucher for a future flight, cash compensation, or other forms of reimbursement.

If the airline doesn’t provide any form of compensation, you may be entitled to compensation under the EU Regulation 261/2004. To make a claim for compensation, you will need to submit your claim to the airline in writing with evidence of your flight details and any expenses incurred as a result of the delay. You may also need to provide evidence that you were denied boarding, such as photographs or witness statements. If your claim is successful, the airline will provide you with compensation according to the terms of the Regulation.

What can you expect?

Travelers, who are flying to Europe on a European airline or out of Europe on any airline, are protected by European law. The maximum compensation amount is $700 if passengers did not volunteer to give up their seats in exchange for various perks. Passengers can claim compensation up to three years after a denied boarding.

However, they are not covered for flight disruptions caused by extraordinary circumstances that are not an airline’s fault.

How to avoid such situations?

Here is what you can do to lower your chances of getting bumped:

  • Book early. The earlier you book your flight, the less likely you are to be bumped. Airlines typically overbook flights to ensure they are filled to capacity;
  • Check-in early. Arrive at the airport early and check in for your flight as soon as possible. This is especially important if your flight is overbooked, as airlines will offer incentives to passengers who volunteer to be bumped from the flight in exchange for a later one;
  • Have a flexible schedule. If possible, try to book flights with flexible departure and arrival times so that if you do get bumped from one flight, you can easily switch to another without much disruption;
  • Choose your seat wisely. Selecting a seat in an aisle or near the front of the plane can help increase your chances of not getting bumped since these seats are usually filled last.

In conclusion

It is crucial to be aware of your rights and the policies of the airline you are flying with in case of an overbooked flight. Airlines are legally allowed to overbook flights, but they must provide compensation to passengers who are denied boarding. Passengers should be aware of the details of their ticket, including any restrictions or cancellation fees that may apply, and should also be prepared to negotiate with airline representatives on compensation and various perks.

Even though overbooking and denied boarding is rather frustrating, at least you have some opportunities to explore the city you are in. Arriving late can definitely ruin your plans, but at the very least, you will know that you have more opportunities to travel in the future — be it in the form of reimbursement or a travel voucher.