Odice Lawyers

Overbooking: What can passengers claim?

ODICE LAWYERS

Summer is here and with it come back words and clichés such as "heat wave", "holidays", "traffic jams"... And also "overbooking", a phenomenon that can occur in any destination, including the overbooking in Malaga and that can ruin your holiday.

What is overbooking?

Overbooking is an anglicism made up of the word "Booking", which translates as reservation, and "over", which in Spanish is the adverb "sobre". In short, it means an overbooking or overbooking that occurs in the field of passenger transport by air.

But beyond the literal translation, overbooking consists of in the ability of airlines to accept a higher volume of bookings than the number of seats available for a flight.

In this sense, a commercial airline can estimate an overbooking percentage based on the passengers it estimates will cancel their tickets before the flight and those who will not show up.

This power is legally recognised in the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91.

However, it may happen that at check-in and boarding there are more reservations than the number of seats available on the flight.

In this case, the airline has two alternatives:

  • Ask passengers to volunteer to desist from the flight in exchange for compensation and benefits.
  • And if there are no volunteers, the airline will draw lots to determine which passengers are denied boarding due to overbooking.

Passenger rights

When overbooking occurs, you must be forewarned and, although you may think that this denial of boarding due to overbooking is illegal, the truth is that it is not.

However, you have the right:

  • Be informed about your rights
  • Be looked after while waiting for your return or alternative flight (food, drink, two phone calls or access to email, hotel accommodation if an overnight stay is necessary and transport between the airport and the place of accommodation).
  • Claim reimbursement - within 7 days - or alternative transport to your destination.
  • Claiming financial compensation

So... What do I do if I have been denied boarding due to overbooking?

If you are unlucky enough to be overbooked, first of all: don't lose your temper. Secondly, exercise your rights:

  • Request a full refund of the ticket or an alternative ticket or means of transport as soon as possible.
  • Request assistance while some action is being taken to meet your needs, i.e. accommodation, food and transport to accommodation.

Financial compensation for overbooking

Whatever solution is adopted, passengers affected by overbooking are entitled to the following financial compensation:

  • 250 euros for flights up to 1,500 km.
  • 400 euros for intra-Community flights over 1,500 km and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km.
  • 600 euros for all other flights.

These compensations shall be reduced to 50 % if the passenger accepts another ticket or means of transport to the final destination.

Moreover, the receipt of these amounts does not prevent the passenger from claiming damages for denied boarding, e.g. for non-refund of hotel amounts at destination.

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