When Can I Expect Compensation If I’m Denied Boarding on an Overbooked Flight?

When Can I Expect Compensation If I’m Denied Boarding on an Overbooked Flight?

Being denied boarding is something that no passenger wants to go through, especially if they have to be in a specific place at a particular time. It would make sense if you weren’t a ticket holder or arrived at the gate only to realize your passport expired. However, denied boarding can happen even if you follow all the correct steps. 

More than 1,300 passengers were denied boarding in just the first month of 2024, an action that has become quite common among airlines. As ticket holders, you have a right to the seat you bought. This entitles you to compensation if you are denied boarding due to overbooking. That said, some factors can affect the time you receive the compensation, and this article will go through the major considerations. 

How Overbooked Flights Happen?

Overbooked flights happen when an airline sells more tickets than they have seats available on the plane. Technically speaking, it is not against the law for airlines to do that because statistics show that 5 to 10 percent of the passengers don’t make it to their flight. Either they miss their connective flights or don’t show up, leaving the company at a loss. 

If things align and the passengers turn up at the gate, it could lead to some late passengers being denied boarding. This could also happen due to operational reasons, such as the airlines using smaller aircraft than was originally planned. In these circumstances, travelers can either get a refund for their flight or try rerouting.

What Are Your Rights for Denied Overbooked Flight Compensation?

As a passenger, you are protected by the EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 (or simply, EC261) in case of events such as delays or involuntarily denied boarding. Depending on the distance you are supposed to travel, you can receive between 250 EUR and 600 EUR if you arrive at your destination more than 3 hours late. You can file for compensation right after you are denied boarding, with no other alternatives – the earlier, the better.

On average, if there are no setbacks in your claim, you should be able to see the money reach your account in about 1-2 months. Airlines are obliged by the EC 261/2004 to respond in a maximum of 8 weeks, so you can expect compensation by then. However, if the case is much more complex and undergoes more verification processes than usual, you can expect the procedure to last at least a few months.   

man in blue dress shirt standing in airplane
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/man-in-blue-dress-shirt-standing-in-airplane-5KRFOTnpnnY 

Top Factors that Can Affect Your Timeline for Receiving Compensation

Multiple factors can influence the timeline for which you can expect the compensation. This can include the following:

  1. Compensation Course Taken

Once you request bumped from flight compensation, the course you take could also affect when you get your money. For the most part, there are two routes to go on: you either file with the airline yourself or you have a professional file for you. The latter is generally recommended, as it increases your chances of going through a smooth process. 

Airlines have no interest in giving you any money back, and they will likely use any wiggle room that they can find to deny your claim. As an average passenger, you might not know exactly what steps to take, which can lead to more delays in compensation. Going for a flight claim company might help you get your payment for overbooking faster, as they know exactly how to respond to those potential loopholes of an airline.

  1. Availability of Documentation

Most people take good care of the flight documents – at least until the flight ends. However, certain unforeseen circumstances can cause you to lose your documents. For instance, you may have lost your physical boarding pass or dropped your phone (containing the documents) on the ground, completely damaging it.

While you can still find alternatives to prove that you are indeed in the right, this could take some time. The airline could require additional investigations or verifications, or you could be asked to go over an alternative route. Depending on what documents you lost (or how many), this process can take days, weeks, or even months. 

  1. Complexity of the Case

The intricacy of the case could also affect when you get your compensation. For instance, the process is straightforward if you were denied boarding due to overbooking and were not offered an alternative flight. However, if the airline did find a route that got you there with a less-than-3-hour delay, but you still spent hours at the airport, they might argue that they did their job. 

Things such as jurisdictional matters, misinterpretation of the regulations, or international law could also lead to a more complex case. In this situation, negotiations may be necessary for you to obtain compensation. If there are such issues in your case, you can expect more than 2 months to pass before you get your denied overbooked flight compensation

  1. Necessity for Legal Action

Sometimes, airlines can be unreasonable or try to stall communication on purpose, so they do not acknowledge fault. In this case, they might try to claim they were not to blame and deny your compensation entirely. If EC 261/2004 states that you should indeed receive the compensation, you have every right to take it a step further with legal action. 

If you are in the right and receive the appropriate assistance, you should eventually receive your flight compensation. That said, you can expect inevitable delays, which will go past the 8-week mark. Both parties must gather enough evidence to prove their case, which could last a couple of weeks.

The Bottom Line 

The timeline for receiving compensation could depend on the case’s complexity. It can take as little as 4 weeks and as long as a few months. For this reason, it is recommended that you use all resources available to receive your compensation without delay. A specialized company like Stop Delay can help you in this regard.