Know Your Rights When You Were Involuntarily Denied Boarding

Do you know your rights when you were involuntarily denied boarding? You may have the right to compensation for denied boarding due to overbooking of a flight.

It’s a sad fact of air travel: sometimes you get bumped from a flight due to an overbooked flight. Overbooking occurs when airlines sell more tickets assuming that some passengers won’t show up for their flight, thus creating more room and allowing the air carrier to make more money from ticket sales. Unfortunately, this means that passengers can end up out of luck when their seat is taken by someone else.

Knowing your rights in such an event can help steer you through the compensation that you are entitled to. That’s why we at ClaimFlights have put together this article outlining what you need to know in order to deal with involuntarily denied boarding as well as how ClaimFlights can assist you in getting compensated under EU regulation for the inconvenience caused.

What Is Involuntary Denied Boarding?

Involuntary Denied Boarding happens when the flight is overbooked and the passengers with valid tickets are denied boarding against their will. Usually, the first thing the airline does is to ask for volunteers to give up their set in exchange for certain advantages like travel credits, vouchers, or hotel accommodations, if there aren’t enough volunteers then the airline randomly dump passenger from the flight. It can be stressful, especially if you’re not familiar with your rights as a passenger.

Involuntary Denied Boarding can happen for a few different reasons: the airline may overbook the flight; there might not be enough seats on the plane to accommodate those who’ve checked in; or it may be necessary to remove someone from the flight in order to comply with safety regulations.

The good news is that, regardless of why it happened, if you’re denied boarding involuntarily, there are certain protections in place that require airlines to provide compensation. This could include financial reimbursement or even a voucher or cash refund of your ticket purchase price.

Your Rights for Involuntary Denied Boarding

Being bumped off a plane due to overbooking can be a major inconvenience. But it’s important to remember that you have rights when dealing with involuntary denied boarding:

Rights according to EC Regulation 261/2004 in the EU

  • Passengers who are denied boarding against their will, are entitled to financial compensation ranging from €250 to €600.
  • Passengers could also be entitled to a full refund of flight tickets, or alternate transportation. And, may get additional services like access to meals, refreshments, and other essential “Right to Care” services.
  • Passengers are eligible for compensation if the arrival and departure are from the EU or irrespective of the airline, or when the arrival airport was in the EU member state and have booked their flight ticket with an EU-regulated airline.
  • Passengers who voluntarily surrender their seats in exchange for a refund or upgrade or due to their own fault (like getting late at the airport, not having the correct boarding pass, or creating security or safety concerns) are not eligible for compensation.

Rights according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the US:

  • Passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding domestic or international flights are entitled to compensation up to 400% of the one-way fare price of the ticket, which should not exceed $1,550.
  • Passengers who voluntarily surrender their seats in exchange for a refund or upgrade are not eligible for compensation.
  • Passengers are eligible to claim denied boarding flight compensation only if the arrival and departure is from the US or the flight should depart from the US airport irrespective of the airline.


  • Aircraft Change: When an airline switches to a smaller plane for operational or safety reasons.
  • Weight and Balance: Safety restrictions may apply to planes with 60 or fewer seats, affecting your flight.
  • Downgrading: If you were downgraded from Business class to Economy class, you’re eligible for a refund of the price difference.
  • Passengers’ Safety: Passenger behavior that threatens safety can impact your compensation rights.

How to Avoid Being Bumped From A Plane?

If you’ve ever been denied boarding due to an overbooked flight, you know how frustrating it can be. The good news is, there are steps you can take to avoid this hassle in the future.

Pre-Book Your Seat

Most airlines allow passengers to pre-book specific seats on the plane. This ensures that if there is a need to overbook a flight due to too many passengers being booked, it will be those without pre-booked seats who are asked to disembark first. Opting for pre-booked seats reduces your chances of being denied boarding and saves you from being bumped off the plane.

Get Earlier At The Airport

Airlines’ staff are likely to review those who checked in late when it comes time. Make sure to arrive early at the airport so that you have more chance of reserving your seat if there ends up being too many passengers for the chosen flight.

Read The Airline’s Overbooking Policy

Each airline has different rules when it comes to involuntary denied boarding, so make sure you read their policies before you travel. Knowing what procedure they abide by and what rights passengers have with regard to overbooking can help protect you from any future denied boarding or unpleasant negotiating situations.

Claiming Compensation After Involuntary Denied Boarding

Okay, so now you know your rights on involuntarily denied boarding. But what should you do next?

Are you eligible for denied boarding compensation? The short answer is—YES!

If your flight was overbooked and you were denied boarding, then you may be eligible for denied boarding compensation of up to €600 per person under EU law.

But there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. You must have checked in within the required timeframe prior to the original departure time of the flight.
  2. You must provide proof that you were involuntarily denied boarding due to an oversold flight, and hadn’t accepted any voucher or upgrades.
  3. If you were provided with an alternative flight, it should have been delayed on arrival for more than 3 hours.
  4. It was due to the airline’s fault and not due to exceptional circumstances.

So if you suffered from an involuntary denied boarding due to overbooking, it’s important that you understand what rights and entitlements you have for claiming compensation.

ClaimFlights can help make sure that happens. ClaimFlights works with a team of experts who understand all aspects of EU 261 passenger rights and regulations so that you can get the most out of your claim quickly and easily!

Airlines’ Obligations According to EU 261 Rule

When it comes to involuntarily denied boarding, did you know there are certain obligations airlines must adhere to? According to the EU 261 Rule, airlines must offer you certain benefits if you’re affected by overbooking.

These benefits may include:

  • Reimbursement or re-routing: This means that if you are involuntarily denied boarding, the airline must provide an alternate flight to your destination, or reimburse the full ticket value.
  • Refreshments: Airlines must provide meals and refreshments while you wait for a replacement flight.
  • Hotel accommodation: If there is no available flight until the following day, airlines must provide hotel accommodation. And of course, they need to cover transport between the airport and the hotel.
  • Compensation: If a passenger is unable to board a flight due to overselling of flight tickets, they may be eligible for up to €600 in compensation from the airline.

Having these rights can help ensure that travelers are informed and able to claim for any inconvenience caused due to overbooking by the airlines!

Tips to Get the Best Outcome From Flight Refusal

It’s important to know your rights when dealing with involuntarily denied boarding, otherwise, you could get less than what you deserve or have a hard time claiming the flight compensation you are entitled to.

Here are some tips to help you get the best outcome:

Document everything

Note down the time and date of your flight refusal and make sure to get a copy of the EU261 form that should be filled out by the airline. Your documentation is essential to prepare a strong case and make sure all your rights for denied boarding are in order.

Know who to contact

If efforts to talk with airline customer service representatives don’t go anywhere, make sure to contact a local civil aviation authority office or flight compensation companies. This will make it easier for them to investigate any potential violations by the airline, which in turn can increase your chances of getting adequate compensation for what happened.

Find additional support

When dealing with denied boarding, it pays off to have somebody knowledgeable on your side. A lot of times when it comes to air travel compensations, travelers are at a disadvantage because they’re unaware of their rights and can be unable to provide enough evidence due to their lack of understanding of the situation.

A professional flight claim service like ClaimFlights can help not just through a reliable process providing complete support throughout but also by having an in-depth knowledge of aviation law that could prove invaluable against airlines.

Which is the best company to claim flight delay compensation?

ClaimFlights is the best flight delay claim company when it comes to the payout after their 25% service fee. Through ClaimFlights, you could get 75% of the receivable compensation.

The following table gives you a direct comparison of flight delay compensation claim companies.

Your payout* (as Flight Delay Compensation)

for less than 1500 km for 1501 to 3500 km for more than 3500 km
ClaimFlights 187.50 € 300 € 450 €
Flightright 125.75 € 201.20 € 301.80 €
AirHelp 125 € 200 € 300 €
ClaimCompass 125 € 200 € 300 €
SkyRefund 125 € 200 € 300 €

* Source: Price comparison of flight delay claim companies, as of 8th August 2023.


Involuntary denied boarding affects thousands of passengers every year. Knowing your rights can help you get the compensation you deserve if it happens to you. The EU 261/2004 rule and U.S. DOT sets out the duties of airlines when an overbooking situation occurs, and provides the legal framework for how a passenger should be treated in these circumstances.

ClaimFlights is an experienced provider of flight compensation services following EU law which can help those impacted by denied boarding get the compensation they are owed. With ClaimFlights, you can get the legal assistance and guidance you need to claim the compensation you deserve for the inconvenience and distress caused by an involuntarily denied boarding.

So, don’t lose out on involuntarily denied boarding and get the compensation you deserve.

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