Planes are generally flying completely full these days, so incidents of denied boarding can be expected to continue increasing. Knowing what you are entitled to and what to expect can make a huge difference if this happens to you.
First, if you’re denied boarding involuntarily- know that the airline must give you a written statement of your rights, an explanation of how they decide who gets bumped, and what you can receive in compensation.
Now for compensation, whether you give up your seat or are bumped, the airline is required to give you cash. They may offer you credit or miles first… but you don’t have to accept it. If you do choose to accept some form of credit, you may get a higher value- but if you don’t know when you’ll be travelling next it may be better to request the cash!
The airline should also get you onto the next available flight to your destination at no charge, and do not hesitate to ask for an upgrade! If they can get you on the next flight within an hour, you may not be entitled to monetary compensation as well, depending on the airline and country, but it never hurts to ask!
Don’t be afraid to ask to be put on the next flight with a different airline too. Your airline may try to keep you on their own flights initially, but airlines have an agreement that allows for sharing passengers in these situations.
And even if you’ve received every other compensation, if your next flight isn’t for another few hours… ask for airport perks! The airline can provide you with meal vouchers, clubroom access, or accommodation. If your unexpected layover passes over a meal time or includes an overnight stay, definitely ask for these.
Overbooked flights can be a huge pain for travellers, but luckily we don’t run into them too often. If you do ever find yourself bumped from a flight, remember your rights and make sure you’re properly compensated.