Overbooking and denied boarding

If you are denied boarding, either because the flight has been overbooked or without reasonable grounds, you have the right to standard compensation. You can also take a later flight or get your money back.

When there are more passengers than available seats, the airline must first call for volunteers to surrender their seats. The airline and the passenger can agree on the benefits the passenger receives for giving up their seat.

The airline has a duty to tell you about your rights. If you do not wish to give up your seat voluntarily and you are denied boarding without reasonable grounds, you can choose between being re-routed or having the price of your ticket reimbursed. You also have the right to standard compensation and to care while you are waiting for the re-routed flight.

However, you will not have these rights if there were reasonable grounds to deny your boarding. Acceptable reasons include

  • if you do not have a passport or the required travel documents
  • if you are a threat to the health or safety of other passengers (for example because of your intoxication, infectious disease, threatening behaviour or terrorist links).

You also lose your rights if you were late for check-in or did not follow instructions that the airline or the travel agency gave you in advance in writing or by electronic means.

Right to take a later flight or be reimbursed

If you give up your seat voluntarily or are denied boarding against your will, you can choose between the following options:

  • You can choose re-routing under comparable conditions to your original destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at your convenience (e.g. one week later), subject to seat availability.

    During the waiting time caused by the re-routing, the airline must offer you the following care:

    • meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time
    • hotel accommodation if an additional stay becomes necessary
    • transport between the airport and hotel
    • two telephone calls or e-mails free of charge.
  • You can cancel your flight, in which case

    • the airline must reimburse the cost of your ticket within seven days. The airline must reimburse the cost of the ticket for each part of the journey and for any parts you had already made
    • you wave your right to care
    • you are also entitled to a free return flight to the point of departure indicated on your ticket if you have to cancel the journey during a stopover. In this case you maintain your right to care if you have to wait for your return flight.

Right to standard compensation

If the airline has denied you boarding against your will, you have the right to standard compensation. The standard compensation must be paid immediately, and the airline cannot refuse to pay it because of general extraordinary circumstances.

How much is the standard compensation?

The amount depends on the duration of the flight and the delay caused by re-routing. The airline may pay the compensation in cash, by bank transfer, by cheque or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, as travel vouchers or other services.

DistanceDelay at destinationCompensation
Less than 1,500 kmOver 3 hoursEUR 250
Flight within the EU of 1.500 km or more, or flight to a destination outside the EU of between 1,500 and 3,500 kmOver 3 hoursEUR 400
Flight to, or return flight from a destination outside the EU, distance 3,500 km or more3 to 4 hoursEUR 300
Flight to, or return flight from a destination outside the
EU, distance 3,500 km or more
Over 4 hoursEUR 600


If your flight was part of a package:

  • You can claim standard compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight and denied boarding in the same way as for scheduled flights you booked yourself. If you claim standard compensation based on these rights laid down in the EU Regulation, you must file your claim with the airline that operated the flight.
  • In addition, you can claim compensation for defects in the trip from the tour operator.

If the airline turns down your claim

If you think that the airline has breached your rights when denying you boarding, you can file a complaint with the airline. You should do this as soon as possible. If the complaint filed with the airline does not produce results, you can file a complaint with an authority.

When do these rights apply?

Passenger rights on denied boarding are based on EU-law and they apply to all domestic and foreign flights, both scheduled and charter flights, departing from an EU airport. In case of flights arriving from outside the EU, these rights only apply if the flight was operated by an EU airline. The rules also apply to flights to and from Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.