Denied boarding compensation

Denied Boarding Compensation

Denied boarding happens. There are multiple regulations that covers it.

Denied Boarding According EC 261/2004

This is a regulation of the European Union (EU) that covers all the EU airspace, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Island and the outermost regions – i.e. French Guiana and Martinique, Mayotte, Guadeloupe and La Reunion, Saint-Martin, Madeira and the Azores, and the Canary Islands.

The Regulation apply when you:

  1. checked in on time for your flight;
  2. have all documents required for the travel – confirmed reservation, passport, boarding pass, etc.;
  3. do not represent a health, security or safety concern;
  4. arrived at the gate on time for boarding.

If you meet all of the above and still experience denied boarding, usually is because of an overbooked flight. If that is the case, never give up your seat voluntarily for vouchers or other benefits. If you do that you are no longer eligible for financial compensation.

Your Rights:

  1. Financial compensation at the airport – payment should be issued immediately after you have been denied boarding.
  2. The airline must provide an alternative flight to your final destination.
  3. You are entitled to food and refreshments during your wait and hotel accommodation and transfers if you wait overnight.

Which Flights Are Covered?

Unfortunately not all flights are covered by the regulation.

  • If you travel within EU, all flights are covered.
  • If your departure is in EU, all flights are covered.
  • If your departure is not in EU, but your destination is in EU, you are covered only if the operating airline is EU based (headquarters location in EU).
  • If neither your departure nor destination is in EU, you are not covered.

Check if your flight is covered under EC 261/2001 in the table provided:

Travel itineraryEU carrierNon-EU carrier
From EU to EUyesyes
From EU to non-EUyesyes
From out of EU to EUyesno

What are the compensation amounts?

Your compensation amount entitlement depends on the distance of your flight. Check your compensation in the table below:

Compensation amountDistance
250€EU flights under 1,500 km
400€EU flights over 1,500 km
400€Non EU flights between 1500 -3500 km
600€Non EU flights over 3,500 km

Other Passenger Rights Under EC 261/2004

Right of Care

You are entitled to some essentials such as food, refreshments and communications. You are also entitled to hotel accommodation and airport transfer when you have a long delay that requires an overnight stay.

All essentials provided fall under the right to care and are completely unrelated to your denied boarding compensation. You can still claim the financial compensation you are entitled to.

Right of Reimbursement And Re-routing

According to EC261 the airline should offer you one of the following:

  • Full or partial refund of your ticket price and a return flight to your point of departure if you refuse re-routing.
  • Alternative transportation to your final destination on the first flight available.

This does not affect your eligibility to claim compensation for denied boarding.

Upgrades and Downgrades

If you are offered an alternative and the only available seats are in a higher class than the one on your reservation, the airline cannot charge you extra and you can still claim your compensation for denied boarding. If you have a reservation for first or business class, but the class of the alternative flight is lower, you can request a refund of 30 to 75% of the price you paid.

Denied Boarding on US Flights

Similar to EU, a regulation apply for US flights. It covers only denied boarding caused by an overbooking. If your flight was overbooked, never give up your seat voluntarily for vouchers or other benefits. If you do that you are no longer eligible for financial compensation.

Which Flights are Covered?

The flights that are covered under the US regulation are only two categories:

  • Flights within the United States operated by an US airline.
  • International flights departing from the United States.

What Are The Compensation Amounts For Denied Boarding?

The compensation for denied boarding on an overbooked flight in the US are based on your flight category (domestic or international), your ticket price and the delay at your final destination of your alternative flight compared to your original arrival time. Check the table below for the compensation amounts:

Type of flightDelay at your destination compared to your scheduled flight
0-1 hour1-2 hours2-4 hoursMore than 4 hours
Flight within USNo compensation entitlement200% of your one-way ticket price, up to $675 maximum400% of your one-way ticket price, up to $1350 maximum400% of your one-way ticket price, up to $1350 maximum
International flightNo compensation entitlement200% of your one-way ticket price, up to $675 maximum200% of your one-way ticket price, up to $675 maximum400% of your one-way ticket price, up to $1350 maximum

These are the compensation amounts if only the airline arrange your alternative flight to your final destination. If you are not offered an alternative, the compensation entitlement is 400% of your one-way ticket price up to a maximum of $1350.

Documents Needed to Claim Denied Boarding Compensation

Keep everything related to your denied boarding flight and alternative flight (booking confirmation, boarding passes, electronic ticket, luggage tags, etc.). Keep all receipts if you have any additional expenses related to your claim. Request information about the reason you were denied boarding. Note your arrival time at your final destination, since you compensation will be calculated based on it.