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Was your seat taken when you checked in for the flight? Overbooking – what to do!

 First, let’s understand what overbooking is.

Overbooking is a phenomenon in which more tickets are sold for a flight than the plane can hold.

Often airlines do this quite deliberately, since according to statistics, from 5 to 10% of passengers who bought a ticket do not show up for the flight or exchange / return tickets.

Based on these statistics, airlines sell more tickets than the plane can hold in order to increase profits.

Sometimes overbooking occurs when the aircraft is replaced by a smaller one or, if necessary, to provide a seat on the aircraft to a person with VIP status, however, in these cases, overbooking happens due to the fault of the airline.

Что такое овербукинг

If you are checking in for a flight and they tell you that all the seats are already taken, then you are stuck with overbooking.

Let’s deal with common overbooking questions

1. Why are some airlines selling more tickets than the plane can hold?

Overbooking happens for two reasons:

  1. If something happened to the aircraft on the eve of departure and the flight is actually operated by another aircraft (with a lower capacity), some passengers may be sent to other flights. However, this situation is extremely rare.
  2. More often than not, airlines actually sell more tickets than the plane can hold. This happens because, according to statistics, about 10% of passengers, after buying tickets for one reason or another, refuse to travel or do not show up for the flight. Accordingly, the sale of more tickets will increase the airline’s revenue.

2. What are the reasons companies take such measures?

Почему продают билетов больше на самолет

The main and only reason is to increase earnings from ticket sales

3. What can the airline offer in case of overbooking? What compensation can you expect?

In the event of an overbooking, airlines can upgrade the class of service.

For example, transfer from economy to business or first class. You may also be offered a flight on another flight or on a plane from other companies. In this case, the flight can be operated both in a few hours and in a few days.

In fact, the airline’s obligation is to deliver the passenger to the destination on the next flight. In accordance with the law, in the event of a flight delay due to the fault of the airline, the passenger has the right to claim compensation.

If the flight is operated by an airline registered in the EU and the destination is in the EU, then the passenger has the right to receive compensation under EU law, namely EU 261 regulation. In other words, a passenger can count on compensation in the amount of 250-600 euros in the following cases:

  1. Flight delays of 3 hours or more
  2. Flight Cancellations (less than 14 days’ notice or no notice)
  3. Denied boarding due to overbooking.

How to calculate and receive compensation read HERE.

4. What do you need to provide at the airport?

Овербукинг: что обязаны предоставить в аэропорту

In the event of a delay or cancellation of a flight, as well as a change in the flight route, the air carrier is obliged to arrange for passengers at the waiting point convenience

After 2 hours delay, you have the right to:

  • Soft drinks and cold snacks / snacks (Further, the airline must provide drinks and meals every 3-4 hours)
  • 2 phone calls or the ability to send an E-mail / fax
  • Providing a mother and child room (If the child is under 7 years old)

After 4 hours delay, you are entitled to:

  • Provision of hot meals (further every 6 hours)

If you need to wait for the next flight 8 hours during the day (6 hours – at night)

  • Hotel accommodation during the delay
  • Transfer to the accommodation and back to the airport

If your flight is unexpectedly canceled, and you are already at the airport, then you have the right to demand one of the following options:

  • Alternative transport to final destination as soon as possible
  • Rebooking at a later date convenient for you, taking into account the number of available seats (in this case, the obligation of the airline to provide assistance and accommodation is terminated)
  • Refund of the ticket price within 7 days, as well as return to the starting point of the route, if further continuation of the journey does not make sense (also applies to delays lasting more than 5 hours)

* If you were taken to a different airport than indicated on the original ticket, the airline is also obliged to provide you with transport to your final destination or another nearest destination.

All of the above services are provided to passengers at no additional charge.

5. In case of overbooking, is it possible to somehow protect yourself and fly away on time?

The only way to protect yourself from overbooking is to check-in online (opens 24 hours before departure) or arrive at the airport well in advance so as not to be one of the last to check-in.

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