Denied boarding is a refusal by an airline to carry a passenger on a flight, even though the passenger has presented him or herself for boarding under the conditions mentioned above under the heading Applicability, except when there are reasonable grounds to deny boarding, such as reasons of health, safety, security or inadequate travel documentation.
Denied boarding happens when airlines sell more tickets for a scheduled flight than there are seats on the aircraft.
Where a flight is overbooked the airline will first call for volunteers to surrender their confirmed reservations to the airline in exchange for agreed benefits. The volunteers are also entitled to a choice of:
- Refund of the cost of their ticket within 7 days if not wishing to travel or
- Re-routing to their final destination at the earliest opportunity or
- Re-routing at a later date at the passenger’s convenience, subject to availability of seats
If there are not enough volunteers, the airline may deny boarding to passengers against their will but must compensate them and offer the appropriate assistance set out in the law.
You must also be offered a choice of:
- Refund of the cost of your ticket within 7 days if not wishing to travel or
- Re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or
- Re-routing at a later date at your convenience, subject to availability of seats
A refund is a full refund of the ticket for the part or parts of the journey you have not made and for the part or parts you have already made, if the flight is no longer serving any purpose to your original travel plan. When relevant, it also includes a return flight to your first point of departure at the earliest opportunity.
If you choose a refund, compensation must also be paid. The amount you are entitled to depends on the distance of the flight that you have not been allowed to board.
If you choose re-routing, the compensation that is paid depends on the length of delay past the original planned time in arriving at your final destination.
If you choose to be re-routed as soon as possible then the air carrier must give you care and assistance whilst you are waiting on your alternative flight.