Airplane overbooking in simple terms? You have prepared your suitcase, respecting the maximum weight provided by the airline, you have printed the tickets, checking that you have the identity document necessary for the flight, you have passed the security checks, you are finally at the boarding gate and suddenly you are told “sir, I’m sorry but we are overbooking”. No, this is not the final stage of a nightmare the night before leaving for a long vacation, but a case of “denied boarding” that could really occur. If like me you’re a frequent traveller then you’ll know how air overbooking (or overbooking) is the unexpected variable that can ruin your trip. Although you have done everything necessary to get on board the plane, due to the way in which the airline manages the available seats, you will still not be able to use your ticket.
But what does overbooking mean? As with hotel rooms, even for an airline, there may be cases where airline tickets are sold in excess of the seats on the plane. But why is there overbooking? The situation is similar to the management of hotel bookings: given the high probability that, following a booking, there will be a cancellation at the last minute, the structures are led to accept more people than those who can actually stay in their rooms (or who can travel in their plane). Like hotels, airlines also try to protect themselves from last-minute cancellations by selling more airline tickets than are available: there will (almost) always be some passengers who do not show up or cancel their trip.
The forecast of the percentage of overbooking is calculated by the airlines with complex algorithms that, by crossing statistical data with future forecasts, can produce an estimated percentage of how many cancellations will be on the flight departing. The airline, in case of denied boarding for overbooking, will have to compensate, as we will see shortly, the inconvenience and damage caused to the passenger, but it will still have had millions of revenues from the (desired) practice of overbooking. What do you think it is for a company that manages thousands of flights and makes millions of people travel having to compensate a few hundred people who have been denied boarding (we talk about about 9 people out of 10,000 who every year face a case of overbooking aircraft).
Other times, thanks to the many low cost offers to fly, especially during promotional periods or holidays, the company can not control perfectly the number of airline tickets sold by the company itself or by many travel agencies.
How to avoid overbooking?
Don’t you want to be surprised by the professional smile of the ground hostess while, with difficulty, he tries to tell you that “no, sorry sir but we are overbooked, today he can not fly with us”? Imagine the damage, as well as the mockery, of receiving this bad news before a long journey planned throughout the year or before the departure of the plane to reach a larger airport. Here are some useful tips to avoid denied boarding for overbooking.
Do not fly at the most popular times. If you have no intention of waking up at dawn to run to your departure airport, park your car at the airport, run to the sleepy gate and fall asleep in uncomfortable chairs waiting for boarding, well, know that not even everyone else wants it! The first flight of the day are the least likely to be cancelled and overbooked. This is because any cancellations, delays and overbooking are handled using the seats available in subsequent flights, those of the evening. During evening flights the demand for available seats will increase, as will the number of cases of denied boarding due to overbooking.
2. Do not buy the cheapest tickets (alone). In low cost airlines, as in national airlines, the cheaper the ticket, the greater the chances of being denied boarding by plane. In fact, as the price of the ticket increases, so does the protection of the passenger against those who, with the intention of saving as much as possible, will instead be the most vulnerable in the event of problems with the company’s flights. Moreover, you will have less chance to run into a denied boarding if you become a frequent flyer, a regular passenger of the airline: if the company has a problem with the route will hardly cancel the flights of its most loyal passengers.
3. Check in first. Often, when the airline has to decide who to leave at the airport and who to take on board its plane, it also refers to the order in which you checked in. The “first come, first served” that in our case becomes “first served (at the gate) first served” is always valid. Those who check in last and those who arrive late at the boarding gate at the airport have a greater risk of being affected by overbooking. Once all available seats are finished, new arrivals will have to take another flight.
If you like to travel alone, booking an airline ticket online is the fastest solution for your last minute holiday, but you should know that, unfortunately, traveling alone by plane, increases the r
and, above all, families or minors accompanied. So, unless you are a lone traveler, if you decide to fly with friends to discover a foreign city, I recommend that you buy together, in a single reservation, flight tickets, you will have less chance of being denied boarding.
Are you afraid to take the plane and want to be sure, before taking the flight and before avoiding a case of overbooking, that the plane does not fall? Read our article on How to know if a flight will fall or not.
The regulation of air overbooking
European passenger rights legislation is clear: Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishes refunds and defines the rights of all persons denied boarding, in addition to cases of cancelled or delayed flights. The regulation regulates “compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or long delay of flights”. The European legislation on the reimbursement for overbooking, even before providing for the pecuniary compensation provided for, states that it is the duty of the airlines to verify, at first, if among the passengers there are volunteers willing to give up their seats in exchange for some benefits to be agreed. If there are no volunteers, Article 4 of Regulation 261/04 establishes the rights of the passenger for air overbooking. Let’s see them together:
Financial compensation. There is compensation for overbooking, a monetary compensation to which passengers are entitled and which varies according to the type of route (intra-EU or extra-EU) and the length of the route. In the case of intra-Community flights you are entitled to a refund of:
– 250€ for journeys of 1500 km or less;
– 400€ for flights of more than 1500 km.
For routes outside the European Union, the amount of Community compensation is equal to:
– 250 for sections of less than or equal to 1500;
– 400€ for sections between 1500 and 3500 km;
– 600€ for journeys of more than 3500 km.
Assistance The company is also required to offer you: meals and drinks for the duration of the wait, hotel accommodation that varies according to the length of the wait and the transfer from the airport to the hotel.
How to get a refund from the airline overbooking
To get a refund, remember to keep your boarding pass and any other travel documents. If you do not have a paper ticket, you can use any other document containing your booking number: a six-digit code, letters and numbers, relating to your booking. Also remember to keep all receipts of any additional expenses you may have incurred to deal with the inconvenience of not flying.
With all the necessary documents to request a refund for overbooking, you can contact the customer service office of the airline from which you bought your ticket. Below are the contacts of the main low-cost airlines.
Free Ryanair contacts
From Monday to Friday from 7.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
On Saturdays from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Sunday from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
7 days a week from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.
(attention is a paid number, with costs of up to 50 cents per minute plus click to answer)
A valid alternative to claiming a refund is the service offered by the website No Problem Flights, which helps you to verify the possibility of obtaining a refund and, if so, sends a free claim directly to the company. There are no initial fees to request the service, but a 25% commission is applied on the refund obtained only in case of success and, in my opinion, the website to request the refund is distinguished by the simplicity with which you can start the request. You can rely on professionals in the field, saving time, who will act as intermediaries with the company to recognize the compensation to which you are entitled.
Online procedure for obtaining a refund
To obtain a refund for air overbooking, go to the homepage of the No Problem Flights website, on the right enter the flight number, the airline and the departure date.
A window will open in which you will have to confirm the data entered to proceed with the claim. Click below on Check Flight Compensation and continue the request. Once you have entered your flight details (airline, flight code and departure date), you will be asked for the names of the departure and arrival airports. At this point you must indicate the cause for which you are requesting a refund.
- Enter the airport of departure and arrival and the reason for requesting a refund.
In our case, click on the Denied Boarding message, you will see a new screen with some questions. This information is necessary for No Problem Flights to understand the feasibility of your refund request. Have you travelled for free? Did you arrive on time at the check-in or gate? Did you give up boarding in exchange for benefits offered by the company? Once you have answered, continue by clicking on Check Flight Compensation.
- Answer the questions and continue
Here we go, here’s the compensation you’re entitled to: congratulations, it seems you’re entitled to compensation! The website, without asking you anything in advance, will start the procedure of claiming compensation to the airline and will apply a commission of 25% (including VAT) on the refund obtained only if it is successful. Don’t forget to include any additional passengers. Accept the terms and conditions of the contract for entrusting the site with the assignment of the claim (read the conditions) and click on submit.
- Congratulations, you’re entitled to a €600 refund!
You will receive an email with the subject “Refund Request” to which you can respond by attaching the boarding pass of the flight for which you make a complaint or if you do not have it, the electronic documentation (reservation code, electronic ticket). To speed up the process and issue of the refund, remember to keep the warning messages you have received from the company, photographs of the flight monitor at the airport and, even better, the certificate of discomfort that you have immediately issued at the gate or by the competent office at the airport.
At this point, No Problem Flights will check the conditions for filing a complaint, forward the request to the airline, managing the file independently, and once the compensation is obtained, it will send you the money withholding its commission.
Have you not been overbooked and would like to receive a refund for a delayed or cancelled flight? No Problem Flights also handles refund claims for delayed or cancelled flights.