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Denied boarding (overbooking): air passengers’ rights

overbookingIn the event of denied boarding (overbooking) the airline company shall first call for volunteers to surrender their reservations in exchange for benefits. If the number of volunteers is not sufficient the air carrier may then deny boarding to passengers against their will. In this last case, the air carrier shall “immediately” assist and compensate passengers (from € 250 to € 600).


Denied boarding (overbooking): air passengers’ rights

Regulation 261/2004, art.4, sets forth air passengers’ rights with reference to the event of denied boarding (overbooking)*.

A) Volunteers**. In case of denied boarding (overbooking) the airline company of interest shall first ask passengers if someone among them is willing to voluntarily surrender their reservation in exchange for benefits to be agreed upon by the parties involved (e.g. upgrades, cash, vouchers). Volunteers also have the right to:

  • reimbursement within seven days of the full cost of the ticket for the unused part of it, such as the return flight, together with a return flight to the first point of departure at the earliest opportunity (if applicable), or
  • re-routing under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passenger’s convenience, subject to availability of seats (Reg. 261/2004, art.8).

On the basis of the above, volunteers are not eligible for additional compensation (Reg. 261/2004, art.7).

B) Deny boarding against passengers’ will. If the number of volunteers is not sufficient, the air carrier may then deny boarding to passengers against their will. In this last case, the air carrier shall IMMEDIATELY COMPENSATE AND ASSIST PASSENGERS (irrespective of their nationality, departing from an EU airport regardless of the airline and destination, or arriving in the EU on a European airline) as follows.

B-1) COMPENSATION in the event of overbooking (Reg. 261/2004, art. 7)

Passengers to whom boarding was denied against their will, shall receive compensation in the following amounts:

 DISTANCE    AMOUNT***
 up to 1500 km   € 250 
 between 1500 and 3500 km  € 400 
 more than 1500 km with reference to intra-European flights  € 400 
 every other distance not included above  € 600 

In determining the distance, the basis shall be passengers’ last destination. The distance is usually shown in the flight confirmation, otherwise it is possible to find it on the “search flight” page on the airline company’s website or here.

Payments can be made by the airline company either in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders, bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.

Passengers can request a refund with reference to expenses which they have incurred as a consequence of the overbooking****.

See how to request a refund and/or compensation in the event of overbooking.

B-2) ASSISTANCE in the event of overbooking (Reg. 261/2004, art. 8 – 9)

In addition to compensation in the amounts indicated above, these passengers also have the right to:

  • reimbursement within seven days of the full cost of the ticket for the unused part of it, such as the return flight, together with a return flight to the first point of departure at the earliest opportunity (if applicable)*****, or
  • re-routing under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passengers’ convenience, subject to availability of seats.

Moreover, passengers to whom boarding was denied against their will shall be offered free of charge:

  • meals and refreshments in a reasonable proportion to the waiting time;
  • hotel accommodation in cases where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary or where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary;
  • transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other);
  • two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.

In the event of denied boarding the air carrier shall provide each passenger with a written notice setting out the rules concerning compensation and assistance, and the contact details of the competent body responsible for the enforcement of Regulation 261/2004, which in Italy is the Italian Civil Aviation Authority – ENAC (Reg. 261/2004, art. 14).

Air carriers do not compensate passengers in case of security reasons or whose travel documents are not in order/correct/valid, nor do they pay the expenses for hotel, meals, drinks, etc. in case passengers re-schedule the flight at a later date at their own convenience.

 

*“Denied boarding means a refusal to carry passengers on a flight, although they have presented themselves for boarding under the conditions laid down in Article 3(2), except where there are reasonable grounds to deny them boarding, such as reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation” (Reg. 261/2004, art. 2).

**”Volunteer means a person who has presented himself for boarding under the conditions laid down in Article 3(2) and responds positively to the air carrier’s call for passengers prepared to surrender their reservation in exchange for benefits” (Reg. 261/2004, art. 2).
***The amounts are reduced by 50% (€ 125, 200, 200, 300) when passengers are offered re-routing to their final destination on an alternative flight, the arrival time of such flight must not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked:

(a) by two hours, with respect to all flights of 1500 km or less; or

(b) by three hours, with respect to all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 km and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 km; or

(c) by four hours, with respect to all flights not falling under (a) or (b).

****In case the airline staff is unable or refuses to provide care and assistance at the time of the delay, cancellation or overbooking, passengers have the right to personally organize care and assistance for themselves, keeping all receipts in order to prove the expenses, and ask the airline company to reimburse them at a later date.

Besides the compensation in the fixed amounts determined by Regulation 261/2004, under art. 12 of  the same act, passengers have the right to claim further compensation, if applicable (e.g. if passengers incurred expenses for € 300 but are entitled only to € 250, they may request the difference of € 50). The compensation granted under this Regulation may be deducted from such compensation, unless passengers have voluntarily surrendered their reservation.

*****Reimbursement of the cost of the ticket and return flight to the first point of departure shall also apply to passengers whose flights form part of a package, except for the right to reimbursement where such right arises under Directive 90/314/EEC.

When a town, city or region is served by several airports, and an operating air carrier offers a passenger a flight to an airport other than that for which the booking was made, the operating air carrier shall bear the cost of transferring the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or to another close-by destination agreed upon with the passenger.


David

David

 

 

 

 

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