Airlines like Flynas regularly resort to the practice of overbooking in order to ensure the best possible return on flights. They therefore sell more seats than are available for each flight, knowing that a certain proportion of passengers will not show up for boarding. However, there are times when passengers are denied boarding even though they show up for check-in on time.
Before denying boarding, airlines must appeal to passengers wishing to postpone their journey in exchange for compensation.
Volunteer passengers are placed on another flight or reimbursed if they forgo their trip.
Only if the number of volunteers is insufficient, then the carrier must refuse to board passengers. Passengers denied boarding against their will receive financial compensation. To obtain it, their flight must be "confirmed" (passengers on "stand by" are not included in this case) and they must arrive before the check-in deadline. The amount of compensation is as follows:
- 250 € for journeys up to 1,500 km,
- 400 € for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km,
- 600 € beyond 3,500 km for all flights outside the EU.
The Saudi Arabian air carrier must pay the compensation in cash or by any other means (check, wire transfer, etc.). It must obtain your written agreement to compensate you in travel vouchers: beware, these often contain restrictive general conditions.
In addition, he must place you on another flight or refund your ticket if you renounce your trip. Until the next flight, the coverage must be complete (accommodation, transfers between the place of accommodation and the airport, if necessary, catering, communication costs or the transmission of two messages, etc.).
Denied boarding without compensation
There is no compensation for denied boarding if:
- The check-in deadline has not been respected,
- The passenger behaves incorrectly,
- The return flight is not confirmed on time,
- The ticket is on the waiting list,
- The passenger does not have the necessary travel documents (passport, visa, return ticket, etc.).
We talk about overbooking when companies take more reservations on a flight than they have seats to offer to passengers who have purchased their ticket. It is not a question of sure making dissatisfied customers but of compensating for the probable last minute cancellations.
Does it often happen that the number of passengers who show up for check-in is greater than the seats on board?
No, it is extremely rare. For a fairly simple reason: passengers who are voluntary or drawn by lot have the right to a set of compensation (see questions 3 and 4) which is expensive for the companies.
They therefore avoid this situation as much as possible. The number of oversold tickets is thus skilfully calculated using complex mathematical models, based in particular on the history of cancellations on a particular line at such and such a time. Overbooking is also a very frequent case study for mathematicians specializing in probability.
Is this practice legal?
Yes, this practice is permitted. Companies also argue that overbooking allows them to offer tickets at more attractive prices. The goal is to optimize the filling of the plane: to offer cheaper tickets and allow more passengers to travel while honoring more sales.
The company is nevertheless required to respect certain obligations. If it finds itself unable to accommodate all the expected passengers, it must seek volunteers willing not to take the flight in exchange for compensation. Either she offers them to take another flight as soon as possible, or she reimburses the entire plane ticket. In all cases, the passenger benefits from services (accommodation, catering, telephone, etc.) and is offered compensation (see question 4) in the form of a sum of money or, sometimes, a coupon of value higher allowing him to purchase a ticket later from the same company.
In the event that it cannot find volunteers, the Saudi operator cannot itself nominate the injured passengers. Airlines give priority to the last people to check-in, knowing however that disabled people and pregnant women remain a priority. The unfortunate elected officials are then offered the same conditions as the volunteers: to be fully reimbursed or to be offered another flight as soon as possible. In addition, they are entitled to claim lump sum compensation.
For companies operating on flights within the EU (for example, a flight served by Flynas between Paris and Jeddah), these amounts are defined by the EU. They depend on the distance and the waiting time in the event that the non-boarded passenger against his will is reclassified on another flight.
- Less than 1500 km: 250 € (125 € if the rerouting is less than two hours)
- From 1,500 to 3,000 km: 400 € (200 € if the re-routing is less than three hours)
- More than 3,000 km: 400 € for intra-European flights, 600 € for flights between the EU and another country (200 and 300 € if the rerouting is done within 3 hours).