Bumped from Flight Compensation Rights under EU & US Law

Bumped from Flight? Compensation under EU & US law

Have you ever looked forward to a trip, only to find out that your flight has been overbooked? This can happen for a variety of reasons and can leave you feeling incredibly frustrated and inconvenienced. Fortunately, there are laws in place to help protect your rights as a traveler.

Air travel is a marvel of modern engineering and organization, allowing people to traverse continents within hours. However, occasionally passengers may face an inconvenience commonly known as “being bumped” from their flight. This happens when an airline overbooks a flight, anticipating some passengers will not show up. If more passengers than expected check-in, the airline may ask or force some passengers to take a later flight. When this happens, passengers may be entitled to compensation. Let’s delve into the entitlements to bumped flight compensation.

Bumped from Flight Compensation

Being bumped from a flight, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, can be a frustrating experience for any traveler. Airlines, however, are often required to offer compensation in such scenarios, recognizing the inconvenience caused to passengers. The rights to compensation can vary based on jurisdictions and specific air travel rights, but some general principles apply:

1. Voluntary Bumping:

When a flight is overbooked, airlines typically first ask passengers if they’re willing to give up their seats in exchange for certain benefits:

Choice of Compensation: Those who volunteer might be offered vouchers for future flights, food, hotel accommodation, or even cash.

Negotiation: Passengers can often negotiate the compensation, especially if the inconvenience is significant.

2. Involuntary Bumping:

If there aren’t enough volunteers, airlines might deny boarding to certain passengers against their will. When this happens, passengers typically have more extensive rights:

Monetary Compensation: Affected passengers are often entitled to immediate compensation, the amount of which may be determined by the ticket price and the length of the delay caused by being bumped.

Alternative Transportation: The airline must provide an alternative means for the passenger to reach their destination, which could include a seat on a later flight or even on a different airline.

What does Overbooking mean?

Overbooking is a practice where the airlines sell more tickets than available seats on a flight. Airlines are allowed to do so in the expected of no-show passengers using historical booking data and predictive algorithms. As per the research, around 5% of passengers are “no-show”.

However, these estimates are not always accurate, which can result in overbooking, and passengers with valid tickets may face denied boarding unless there is an insufficient number of volunteers willing to give up their seats in exchange for compensation like refund or re-routing, upgrades to business class.

What does Denied Boarding mean?

Denied Boarding” refers to the situation where passengers who have valid tickets and reservations are not allowed to board a flight due to an overbooked flight. This occurs when the airline has sold more tickets for the flight than there are seats. Denied boarding can result in passengers being involuntarily bumped from the flight.

However, laws in the EU and the US ensure compensation for inconveniences caused by denied boarding, as long as it’s not the passenger’s fault. If the passenger is been bumped from a flight due to actions such as an incorrect boarding pass or causing security or safety concerns then these laws may not apply.

Know your Rights for Overbooked Flight

If you’ve been bumped from a flight due to overbooking, you may be wondering if you are eligible for compensation.

The answer is… Maybe – it all depends on where your flight originated and where it was headed.

Overbooked Flight Compensation under EU Law

EU Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004, states that passengers involuntarily denied boarding due to overbooking are entitled to compensation of up to 600 Euro.

If the passenger voluntarily surrendered the seat in exchange for a refund or accepts an alternate flight with upgradation then the passenger cannot apply for compensation.

If the denied boarding is due to the passenger’s fault (like getting late at the airport, not having the correct boarding pass, or creating security or safety concerns) then too they are not eligible for compensation.

Passengers are eligible for overbooked flight compensation under EU Law if

  • Your departure and arrival are both within the EU (irrespective of the airline)
  • Your flight’s departure was from an EU airport (irrespective of the airline)
  • Your flight’s arrival airport was in the EU member state and should have been booked with an EU-regulated airline

The table below clarifies if you qualify for compensation under EU law.

Origin and Destination EU Airline Non-EU Airline
EU to EU ✅Yes ✅Yes
EU to Non-EU ✅Yes ✅Yes
Non-EU to EU ✅Yes ❌No
Non-EU to Non-EU ❌No ❌No

EU law EC 261 also applies to Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

Reimbursement for bumped flights must be due within 7 days. If the airline fails to provide bumped flight compensation, you may consider hiring a flight compensation claim company like ClaimFlights to assist you with the claim process afterward.

US DOT Bumped from Flight Compensation

Overbooked flights are very common in the US therefore laws are also strong in the US.

In the United States, passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding due to overbooking are protected by regulations enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Passengers who are bumped from domestic or international flights against their will are entitled to compensation up to $1,550.

It’s worth mentioning that, only the passengers who are involuntarily denied board are eligible for compensation. Passengers who willingly surrender their seats in exchange for a refund or upgrade are not eligible for compensation. Also, there must not be any fault of passengers to bumped from the flight, then only the passengers are entitled to claim bumped flight compensation.

Passengers are eligible to claim bumped flight compensation under US Law if….

  • Your departure and arrival are both within the US (irrespective of the airline)
  • Your flight’s departure should be from a US airport (irrespective of the airline)

You may be eligible to claim compensation up to 400% of the one-way fare price of the ticket, which should not exceed $1,550.

Your Rights to Compensation

Compensation under EU Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004:

Here are the key provisions for involuntarily denied boarding

Amount of compensation

When it comes to compensation for an overbooked flight, the amount varies. You may be eligible to receive €250, €400, or even €600 depending on the type of flight you were denied boarding from and how long your flight was delayed.

The EU 261 regulation has some very specific rules about what type of flight compensation you can request when you’ve been bumped from a flight:

  • Flights up to 1,500 km
    Short-haul flights up to 1,500 km qualify for a compensation of €250. This applies to direct flights or flights with two or more stops.
  • Flights over 1,500 km to 3,500 km and within the EU
    Flights over 1,500 km within the EU can get a compensation of €400. Again this applies to direct flights or those with two or more stops.
  • Flights all over 3,500 km and outside of the EU
    Flights of more than 3,500 km outside of the EU could be eligible for an amount of up to €600 in compensation.

These amounts vary based on a few different conditions and not all flights will be eligible for these standardized amounts in compensation – but when it comes to claiming a bumped flight, these are the basic figures you’ll want to keep in mind.

Case Study: The Koenig Family’s Compensation Victory with ClaimFlights

Background: The Koenig family, comprising six members, had meticulously planned a vacation from Frankfurt to New York. Their itinerary was filled with iconic New York experiences, from Broadway shows to Central Park visits.

Challenge: Upon reaching the airport and while waiting to board, they were approached by an airline representative who informed them of an unfortunate development: the flight had been overbooked. Consequently, the entire Koenig family had been involuntarily bumped off their scheduled flight. Determined to claim compensation for this disruption, Mr. Koenig sought redress directly from the airline. However, their plea was met with rejection due to certain purported reasons provided by the airline.

Solution: Post this setback, the family learned about ‘ClaimFlights,’ a service specializing in assisting passengers facing such challenges. Engaging their services, ClaimFlights promptly initiated a dialogue with the airline on the Koenig family’s behalf.

Outcome: After a persistent effort, ClaimFlights successfully secured a compensation of €600 for each member of the Koenig family, amounting to a total of €3600. This victory not only vindicated the family’s rights but also enabled them to reschedule their vacation, even enhancing it with additional excursions.

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s vital for passengers to be aware of their rights and to persevere in seeking justice in the face of corporate apathy.
  • Specialized services like ‘Claim Flight’ can be valuable in navigating complex compensation claims, especially when individuals face challenges in direct negotiations with airlines.
  • Proper redress can turn a negative experience into an opportunity, as evidenced by the Koenig family’s enhanced vacation following their compensation win.

Additional Services

Reimbursement or Re-route

Reimbursement with 7 days of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought. Alternate flights to their final destination at the earliest opportunity or a later date at the passenger’s convenience, subject to availability of seats.

Right to care

If you have agreed to surrender your seat and are waiting for an alternate arrangement from the airline and has passed more than 2 hours, then the below right to assistance must be bear by the airline

    • Meals and Refreshments
    • Free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.
    • Hotel accommodation where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary
    • Transportation between the airport and hotel accommodation

Upgrading & Downgrading

Passengers who voluntarily give up their seats will be offered a ticket upgrade by the airline as compensation, without any extra charges.

If the passenger is placed in a lower class than that which the ticket was purchased, it shall be reimbursed within 7 days as per the below condition:

      • 30 % of the price of the ticket for all flights of 1500 km or less, or
      • 50 % of the price of the ticket for all intra-community flights of more than 1500 km, or
      • 75 % of the price of the ticket for all flights between the European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments.

Compensation under US Law:

If you are eligible for compensation, the amount you will receive hinges on two primary considerations.

First, it will depend on the difference in the scheduled arrival time at your destination in comparison to your original itinerary.

Second, the nature of your flight—whether it is a US domestic flight or an international one—will also influence the compensation you are entitled to.

Denied Boarding Compensation under US DOT

Length of delay 1 to 2 hours 2 to 4 hours 4+ hours
International 200% of the one-way ticket price, but capped at $775 if it exceeds that amount. 200% of the one-way ticket price, but capped at $775 if it exceeds that amount. 400% of the one-way ticket price, but capped at $1,550 if it exceeds that amount.
Domestic 200% of the one-way ticket price, but capped at $775 if it exceeds that amount. 400% of the one-way ticket price, but capped at $1,550 if it exceeds that amount. 400% of the one-way ticket price, but capped at $1,550 if it exceeds that amount.

Unfortunately for delays of 0 to 1 hour, there’s no compensation.

if the airline does not provide any travel arrangements you are entitled to 400% of the one-way fare price, not to exceed $1,550.

What Should You Do If Your Flight is Overbooked?

Here are some tips on what to expect and what to do if you find yourself in this situation:

      • Know your Rights: In many countries, passengers denied boarding due to overbooking have the right to be compensated. It’s important to know what these rights are and how much you are entitled to.
      • Ask for Reimbursement: If you’re asked to take another flight at a later time or date without your consent, you can request a full or partial refund for your tickets plus any other associated costs such as hotel and meals.
      • Reimbursement of Expenses: If the overbooking forces you to make an additional journey for another route or if you decide not to travel, airlines should reimburse any reasonable expenses incurred directly.
      • File a Complaint: If there has been misconduct on behalf of an airline related to denied boarding due to overbooking, make sure that all facts are listed in an official complaint form and send it to the respective airline authority.

Documentation Needed to Prove Your Eligibility for Compensation

For any denied boarding claim, it’s important that you properly document all details surrounding your overbooked flight before submitting your claim. Here are some of the things you should have on hand:

      • Online confirmation of booking: an air ticket receipt or proof of payment will suffice
      • Flight number and reservation code (PNR number)
      • Boarding passes issued to passengers who were denied boarding
      • Picture or photocopy of ID or passport
      • Written notification from the airline
      • Names and contact details of witnesses to the incident

As you can see, it pays to have all this information ready in case the airline denies your claim. If you’re able to provide hard evidence regarding trip schedule details and any delay that occurred, ClaimFlights can help you get the compensation you deserve for being bumped from a flight.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Flight Compensation Claim Company?

If you’ve been bumped from a flight, then you might be wondering what the benefits are of using a flight compensation claim company.

The most obvious advantage is that they have experience dealing with airline companies and know their way around the laws that define your rights. They know how to handle common airline tactics, such as rejecting a passenger’s claim or delaying payments for as long as possible.

Another great thing about using a flight claim company for overbooked flights is the no-win-no-fee service. With this type of service, you don’t need to worry about any upfront payments or legal fees—the payment you receive from successful claims is usually enough to pay for their services and make it worthwhile.

Forget about trying to negotiate with the airline yourself—you will be at an immediate disadvantage if you don’t understand the complexities of the EU 261 compensation law. Let ClaimFlights do all the work for you and get the compensation that you deserve in case of overbooked flights!

Was your flight overbooked? You could be eligible for compensation

Was your flight overbooked and you were bumbed from a flight? Don't worry, you may have the right to compensation of up to 600€ under the EU Regulation 261/2004.

Check if You're Eligible

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