Law guide: Complaints and disputes

See how we helped Liz

"It's not just a website... there are people there on call who can help answer your queries."

Liz W, London

Your rights: denied flight boarding

Your rights: denied flight boarding

If your flight has been overbooked, or if you're told you can't board the plane for another reason, this is known as 'denied boarding'.

Asking for volunteers

Airlines that expect that they'll need to deny boarding to some passengers must first find volunteers to give up their reservation. If there aren't enough volunteers, airlines can deny boarding to passengers who didn't volunteer.

Rights for passengers who have volunteered

If you've volunteered to give up your reservation, you must agree with the airline the compensation you'll receive, such as vouchers.

In addition, you'll be automatically entitled to your choice of either:

  • Another flight as soon as possible; or
  • Another flight at a later date that suits you;
  • A refund (if you choose not to fly) and a free flight back to the airport where you started your journey. The refund must be paid within 7 days and must include the full price of the ticket, and any unused tickets for parts of the journey that weren't made and any tickets that have been used (if the flight no longer serves any purpose in relation to your original travel plans).

If the airline offers a flight from another airport, then it must pay to bring you there.

If you're waiting for another flight, you'll also be entitled to the following:

  • Food and drink reasonably related to the waiting time
  • Overnight accommodation, such as a hotel, if you're delayed overnight
  • Transport between the airport and the place of accommodation (hotel or other)
  • 2 telephone calls, emails, faxes or telex messages

If the airline doesn't do this then you're entitled to claim an amount that is appropriate and reasonable for the costs you've incurred. Keep all your receipts.

Rights for passengers who haven't volunteered

Airlines must give boarding priority to passengers with reduced mobility and any people with them.

If you're denied boarding, you'll be entitled to the same rights as passengers who volunteered to give up their reservation. In addition, you'll be entitled to compensation, as described below. You must have a valid ticket and a confirmed reservation, and have been checked in by the deadline given by the airline.


You're entitled to claim compensation at the same levels as set out above in the tables for a flight that was cancelled.

Copyright © 2022 Epoq Group Ltd. All trademarks acknowledged, all rights reserved

This website is operated by Epoq Legal Ltd, registered in England and Wales, company number 3707955, whose registered office is at 2 Imperial Place, Maxwell Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 1JN. Epoq Legal Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number 645296).

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We would also like to set some optional cookies. We won't set these optional cookies unless you enable them. Please choose whether this site may use optional cookies by selecting 'On' or 'Off' for each category below. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookie notice.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Performance cookies

We'd like to set cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. For more information on these cookies, please see our Cookie notice. The cookies collect information in an anonymous form. Data is only used in aggregate.

Functionality cookies

We'd like to set cookies to provide you with a better customer experience. For more information on these cookies, please see our Cookie notice.