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Denied boarding compensation: how to claim


Hello and welcome to this guide on how to claim the compensation you may be entitled to if you have been denied boarding. It is important to know that your rights are protected under Regulation EC 261/2004. That means that airlines are obliged to follow certain rules regarding flight disruptions, denials of boarding included. Learn quickly and for free if your flight is covered under the legislation and how much you are entitled to claim by checking your flight with our claim calculator.


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Your rights as an air passenger when you’ve been denied boarding


If you were denied boarding at the gate due to no fault of your own, you are entitled to care and attention from the airline before any other form compensation. If you have been denied boarding and you are at the airport waiting for the next available flight, the airline must provide with the following:


  • Meals and refreshments
  • Means of communicating with the outside world (2 times)
  • Hotel accommodation when necessary
  • Transport between the airport and hotel


All of the abovementioned care should be provided by the airline in case of a wait time longer than 2 hours. Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation.


When is it possible to claim compensation for being denied boarding?


Incidents in which passengers have been denied boarding are covered by Regulation EC 261/2004. The text states that if you have been denied boarding without being responsible, you must be compensated under the same principles that apply to flight delays and cancellations.


There are certain elements that are considered to fall under the responsibility of the passenger, for example:


  • Checking in on time, either online or at the counter
  • Having all necessary travel documents (passport, visa, ID card, boarding pass, etc.)
  • Being present at the boarding gate at the time indicated on the boarding pass or the booking confirmation
  • Rude behaviour or being a threat to the safety of the flight operation, its crew, oneself or other passengers


If you've fulfilled all your responsibilities as a passenger, the airline probably only has one good reason to deny your boarding: the flight is overbooked. Selling more tickets than the number of seats available is a very common practice in the industry. Airlines do this to maximise profits and they simply count on the fact that some passengers will not show up for the flight. However, in some cases, everyone arrives at the gate and some passengers have to be bumped off.


If this has happened to you, be confident that you are entitled to compensation. Before accepting any travel voucher, you should know how much money you can receive in compensation since, oftentimes, the airlines offer a lower amount than what is stipulated by the legislation. In addition, you are entitled to a cash payment not travel credit. Please remember that if you give up your seat voluntarily, you will lose your right to be compensated.


Having said that, you’ll be able to claim compensation if you’ve been denied boarding in the following flights:


  • Flights inside the EU
  • Flights from an EU airport to a non-EU airport
  • Flights from a non-EU airport to an EU airport operated by an EU carrier


In other words, your rights are covered if you were flying from the EU or with an EU airline. If it’s all a tad confusing, you can check your flight for free and find out in just a couple of seconds if you’re route is covered by the regulation:


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Example: An itinerary that will gran you the right to claim compensation if you’ve been denied boarding.


Not the passenger’s fault:

Travelling from London to New York with British Airways. You arrive at London Heathrow with time to spare. You check-in at the counter, you have all your necessary travel documents and check your luggage. You are offered a paper boarding pass but it’s not needed as you already have a copy on your mobile. You head to the gate and the flight is not even showing on the screen of the gate. After some time, you start noticing that the gate has become very crowded. You are surprised and it seems like it’s going to be a busy flight.


After an extra 10 minutes, you hear it. The crew are calling your name and when you reach the counter they inform you that because the flight is severely overbooked there is a chance that you’ll have to give up your seat. 10 minutes later, they confirm this as all the passengers booked on the flight have presented themselves to the check-in counter. Unfortunately, you are left behind and the aeroplane takes off without you. The airline's employees proceed to book you on the next flight to New York, departing in 4 and a half hours. There’s no option but to take it. The good news is that you are entitled to 600 euros in compensation!


How much can I receive in compensation if I was denied boarding due to overbooking?


Exactly in the same way as with flight delays and cancellations, and set by EC Regulation 261/2004, the total amount you may receive in compensation is defined by the flight’s itinerary and the distance between the airport of departure and arrival. Connecting flights are taken into account when assessing your case. In other words, your whole booking is covered by the regulation. Consequently, it’s the distance between your initial airport of departure and your final destination what will determine the total amount of money that you may receive in compensation for your delayed, overbooked or cancelled flight. Connecting flights are covered as long as they have been booked under the same reference. Put differently, if they are part of the same ticket or itinerary.


  • For all flights covering a distance of up to 1,500 kilometres, you will receive up to £220
  • For all flights covering a distance between 1,500 kilometres and 3,500 kilometres, you will receive up to £350
  • For flights covering a distance greater than 3,500 kilometres, you are entitled to up to £530


Compensation for being denied boarding totals


Please remember that if your flight travelled a distance greater than 3,500 kilometres and it was delayed more than 3 hours but fewer than 4, then the total amount of compensation is reduced by 50%. The regulation defines the total amounts in euros and they are €250, €400 and €600.


Denied boarding: what you need to do to claim compensation


These are our most relevant recommendations and things to keep in mind if you have been denied boarding due to the flight’s overbooking:


Keep a copy of your travel documents


  • Flight documents (boarding pass, booking confirmation, e-ticket, airline statement, etc.)
  • Receipts for additional costs (e.g. taxi, food and accommodation)


Remember and record the information of your flight(s)


  • Flight number
  • The flight schedule (arrival & departure hours)
  • The delay caused by the incident (final departure and arrival time)


Find out the reason why you’ve been denied boarding


  • Ask the staff and crew
  • Check the weather
  • Check if other flights are delayed or cancelled (arriving at or departing from the same airport)


Check your flight for free with our claim calculator and find out immediately if you can claim compensation!


Enter the date and flight number of your flight in our claim calculator below to see if you can claim compensation for your problems. It will also tell you the total amount in compensation that you may be entitled to.


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Reasons why airlines refuse to pay compensation for an overbooking


Airlines constantly reject requests for compensation on the grounds that the passenger has not complied with his or her responsibilities and this has resulted in the denial of his or her boarding. They also argue, very often incorrectly, the occurrence of an extraordinary circumstance. When rejecting a claim, the obligation to prove that an extraordinary circumstance actually occurred is on the airline, so we will not accept the rejection until they have proven without a doubt that it was the passenger’s fault. In some cases, we may have to take the airline to court. If you already have the reason why the airline has denied your boarding, or why they stated that they do not have to pay compensation, please let us know when you submit your claim.


Has your claim already been rejected by the airline? We can still help you


If you’re uncertain if your flight disruption qualifies for compensation, once you’ve submitted your claim our team of experts will analyse the circumstances and assess your situation. If your claim has already been rejected by the airline, you can still submit your claim and our team will verify and fact-check the airline’s arguments. Very often, they assess the situation wrongly and reject perfectly valid claims; so don’t give up that easily and don’t worry, we’re here to help you!


How long will it take to claim my compensation from the airline?


Even when assisted by professionals, passengers may have to wait more than expected for their compensation. In some cases, airlines will agree to settle the claim as soon as it notices that court action will be initiated against them otherwise. As most claims are not paid out immediately, finding a path, creating a plan and seeing the whole process through may take months. If the company is determined to defend its case in court, completing the proceedings may take up to a year.


First, check your flight with our free claim calculator and find out if your flight is covered and how much compensation you can claim!


How does it work when Flight-Delayed takes care of everything?


If you choose to submit your claim with Flight-Delayed, we’ll ensure that you go through the process as swiftly and smoothly as possible, all while ensuring that you won’t be fobbed off by the airline. If court action is needed, we’ll determine which is the easiest path for you to be awarded compensation and one of our solicitors, we cover more than 8 different European countries, will proceed to sue the airline. We provide our service under a no win, no fee agreement — that means that we’ll take on all the risk and you’ll only have to pay our win fee if our actions lead to a successful outcome. In other words, once you’ve gotten paid by the airline.


Best of all is that our win fee covers all possible costs associated with claiming your compensation. Including legal and court fees as well as all administrative costs and VAT. Don't wait any longer, exercise your rights!


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