Denied boarding the aircraft

Apart from delay or cancellation of a flight, while traveling you may also encounter other unpleasant experiences such as being denied boarding the flight. Even when you have a valid ticket. Can you be denied boarding against your will? What should you do, if you miss a connecting flight due to this action? What are your rights and in what cases can you be awarded compensation?

A common practice among airlines is to sell more tickets than there are actual seats in the aircraft. Another possible cause of having a larger number of passengers than are spots in the aircraft includes, for example, the merging of two flights into one, given the cancellation of the other flight within the same airline. There are a multitude of reasons. The result, however, is a situation in which there are more paying customers on a given flight than there are seats in the aircraft. In this case the airline can deny boarding to any number of passengers.

For flights subject to EU Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 this approach entitles the passenger to compensation. For all other flights it depends on whether the given air carrier has this option for compensation in their terms and conditions, or if it is required by the legislation of the country of the airline’s registered office. For example, in the territory of the USA this is governed by US federal law and all airlines with registered offices in the territory of the USA have the obligation to compensate passengers for refused boarding.

Delays (at the target destination following prebooking and/or rerouting)

Distance Less than 2h   From 2h to 3h   From 3h to 4h   More than 4h
or no flight
took place at all  
Less than 1500km 0€ 0€ 250€ 250€
From 1500 km to 3500km 0€ 0€ 400€ 400€
More than 3500km 0€ 0€ 300€ 600€
Right to compensation associated with distance and length of delay at final destination

As with all other requests for compensation, with denied boarding it is necessary to meet the initial conditions for claiming compensation. The basic question is whether this consists of a flight falling under EU Regulation (EC) 261/2004 or other options for obtaining compensation. The next step is to define the maximum amount of compensation based on initial distance and final destination It is also necessary to meet the formal requirements for obtaining compensation:

  • The passenger has a confirmed reservation for the given flight
  • The passenger reaches the counter on time – that is, either at the time specified by the air carrier or no longer than 45 minutes prior to the planned time of departure, if the time is not specified by the air carrier in advance

Definition of whether or not a flight is subject to EU Regulation (EC) 261/2004

In order to claim compensation for delayed flight as part of the European Regulation, the flight must be operated by at least one of the following methods:

  • The flight must have taken place within the European Union or a member state (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland)
  • The departure location must be within the European Union or a member state
  • The flight is operated by an airline that has its registered office in the territory of the European Union or a member state
Europe flight routes

The definition of flight distance for determining the amount of your compensation for denied boarding

This amount is defined on the basis of the distance between the departure location and the final destination as part of a single reservation. Please note: this distance does not include any distances between flights or transfers during the course of a trip or the distance of an alternative connecting flight. It consists solely of the shortest distance between the initial departure city and the final destination city according to the original purchased reservation, according to the following demonstration:

250 € up to 1 500 km

Prague Paris
Bratislava London
Prague Brussels

400 € from 1 501 km up to 3 500 km

Brno Madrid
Prague Moscow
Bratislava Lisbon

600 € over 3 501 km

Prague New York
Vienna Tokyo
Prague Dubai

Example of distance without stopover Prague - London

  • Distance 1047 KM (Example No.1)

Example of distance of new alternative flight
Prague - Vienna - London

  • Distance Prague - Vienna 278KM
  • Distance Vienna - London 1279 KM
  • Total distance 1557 KM (Example No. 2)

The calculation of distance is based on the shortest distance between the initial departure location and final destination, in this example, 1 – 1047 KM

Europe flight routes

Caution! - The airline will often offer a financial amount for voluntarily exiting the aircraft. This amount, if the passenger accepts it, replaces all other compensation for denied boarding of the aircraft. Passengers tend to be very unpleasantly surprised when they then request compensation pursuant to the EU legislation but now no longer have a claim given their consent to compensation on board the aircraft.

(applies to flights subject to EU Regulation 261/2004)

Other passenger rights on the basis of denied boarding of the aircraft

In the event that a passenger is denied boarding against their will, the passenger is entitled to the following:

  • compensation of the purchase price of the tickets within seven days of the date of the flight
  • an applicable return flight to the original place of departure free of charge or an alternative flight to the final destination free of charge.
  • care provided in the form of refreshments, food, accommodation in a hotel, transport between the hotel and the airport, and two free telephone calls
plane board interior
view of airplane cabin

Other options for obtaining compensation for denied boarding? that are not subject to EU regulations

  • Territory of the USA

    For airlines with registered office in the territory of the USA , compensation is stipulated by federal law at an amount of USD 1350 per person for denied boarding

  • Air Transat

    With the Canadian airline Transat , compensation is part of the actual terms of transport; for denied boarding in flights shorter than 5 hrs CAD 100 per person, for flights longer than 5 hrs CZD 200 per person

  • Turkish Airlines

    With Turkish Airlines, compensation is part of the actual terms of transport; for denied boarding on international flights you can get up to EUR 600 per person, for domestic flights up to EUR 100 per person

There are many possibilities for obtaining compensation from denied boarding on flights not subject to the EU Regulation. In this case you need to know the specific travel conditions of the airline company. Our company specializes not only in EU Regulation, but also in flights outside the EU. We own an extensive database of the travel conditions of airlines throughout the world and we can factually determine whether or not there is a possibility to win obtain compensation in the given location. Enter any flight from anywhere in the world in our form, free of charge and with no obligation, and we will give you info for free about whether compensation can be obtained, how much or in what form, and what is the next possible action.

Extraordinary circumstances and situations when there is no right to compensation

For the airline (air carrier) to be liable for paying you compensation for denied boarding, it cannot be part of extraordinary circumstances , that compelled them to change the number of seats. At the same time, denied boarding must be due to a shortage of free spaces in the aircraft, and not for reasons of inappropriate behavior by a passenger, late check in for the flight, etc. In all other cases you are entitled to obtain compensation for denied boarding.

Safety situations
Decision of government,
police, army
The inappropriate behavior
of the passenger
Traveling under
the influence of alcohol or
intoxicating substances
Late check-in
of the passenger for travel
The health problems
of the passenger
Advanced state of

A summary of the conditions for obtaining compensation for denied boarding

To successfully be award compensation for denied boarding, there must have been no compensation to passengers for voluntarily vacating the aircraft, at the same time this must consist of denied boarding for reasons of insufficient aircraft capacity. In the event that the airline does not communicate with you, it will be necessary to use legal help and compel the airline to obtain your compensation through legal actions. If you are unsuccessful in compelling the airline to communicate with you, you are not satisfied with the response of the airline, you lack the necessary language skills, or you do not have access to legal representation, do not hesitate to make use of our services, where we will always verify the circumstances of your flight. If we judge that you are entitled to compensation, we will take care of everything and obtain your compensation for you using our legal team.

Why ask for compensation with a company instead of doing it yourself?

On your own

exhausting and small chance for success

minimal costs

without detailed
information about flight
it is unclear what the
chances are for success

success rate only 5-10%


no legal support


fast and simple

fast, simple, and effortless

success rate 95%

you pay only if successful

experienced legal representative

all information about flights

submitting a request only lasts a few minutes

verify flight

Legal help

expensive and unclear

without detailed information
about flight it is unclear what the chances are
for success


highly costly

Our advice at the end

Regardless of whether you turn out to be entitled to financial compensation from the airline depending on the circumstances and causes of your delayed flight, the airline must take care of you at the site of the delay. It is their obligation to provide you with refreshments and provide you with the option to make a phone call or send an email. This does not apply in cases when the flight will be delayed up to two hours and allows you to board the plane (for distances of up to 1500 km) or three hours (for distances above 1500 km). If the airline can’t manage to prevent the delay on the given day, it is obligated to provide you with accommodations with transport to the hotel and back. If this should fail to happen, definitely keep all receipts for expenses you incurred due to the unexpected delay for later claimed reimbursement from the air carrier.

Our tip:

Print our assistance card for unforeseeable circumstances at the airport and you will always be prepared to defend your rights

Assistance card



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