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50,000 passengers denied boarding on UK flights every year

Overbooking on flights is a major reason why airlines deny boarding

Around 50,000 airline passengers a year are denied boarding on British flights, with many having been deliberately overbooked.

Data released by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the aviation watchdog, showed an average of 0.02% of passengers travelling to or from the UK were denied boarding in 2015. That equates to more than 50,000 people.

The CAA said in a statement: ‘The main reasons airlines denied boarding were due to overbooking or having to bring in a smaller aircraft than planned to operate a flight.’

Passenger rights

If your flight is overbooked, the Denied Boarding Regulation gives passengers rights to ticket reimbursement, additional benefits and compensation.

The Denied Boarding Regulation applies to passengers departing from any airport within the EU, no matter which airline they’re flying with.

The regulation also applies to passengers departing from an airport outside the EU bound for an airport within the EU so long as the airline is based in an EU state.

Airline obligations

If your flight is overbooked, the Denied Boarding Regulation says the airline must ask for people to volunteer not to fly ‘in exchange for benefits’.

If there aren’t enough volunteers, the airline can free up seats by denying passengers the right to board the plane.

If you volunteer to give up your seat, you’re entitled to a refund or to be rerouted, as well as ‘benefits’ that you have to negotiate with the airline. There are no parameters as to what the benefits the airline should offer are.

If you don’t volunteer, or can’t agree benefits with the airline, and you’re denied boarding, you have the same entitlement to assistance and compensation as you would have if your flight was cancelled.

How much compensation you can claim for a cancelled flight depends on the distance of the journey and how late you are arriving to your destination.

The only difference is that you’re immediately and automatically entitled to this compensation. If you have trouble gaining your compensation, you can use our free flight cancellation compensation tool to make a claim.

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