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Air France Overbooked Flight Compensation: What You Need to Know

Air France Overbooked Flight Compensation: What You Need to Know
Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
Last Updated: May 16, 2024

Whether you’re jetting off for a romantic trip to Paris, or you’re simply on a connecting flight going elsewhere, there’s a good chance you’ve come across Air France on your travels. With over 93 million passengers in 2023 alone, Air France is one of the biggest airlines in Europe - but what happens if you’re denied boarding on one of their flights due to overbooking?

Unfortunately, overbooking occurs a lot on commercial flights. And while there’s no available data that shows just how often Air France engages in overbooking, European publication Euronews claims that almost all outbound flights (both with Air France and other airlines) are overbooked. This is usually done to save airlines money - but often comes at a great cost and inconvenience to passengers.

Luckily, EU law protects you in the event that your flight is overbooked, so how much denied boarding compensation might you be entitled to? Let’s investigate.

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Why Do Airlines Overbook Flights?

It’s simple - airlines overbook flights to ensure that they’re carrying the maximum number of passengers possible. In the travel industry, it’s a commonly-known fact that a small percentage of travellers will either cancel their booking at the last minute or simply fail to turn up for their flight. By overbooking, airlines can prevent empty seats and ensure they’re generating the maximum amount of profit possible for each outbound flight.

And while it’s certainly a risky practice that prioritises revenue over customers, overbooking flights is perfectly legal both in the EU and elsewhere in the world. So, what happens if you’re denied boarding with Air France?

Voluntary Denied Boarding

If your flight with Air France has been overbooked, the airline’s Conduct of Carriage stipulates that staff will first ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for non-refundable Transportation Credit Vouchers or a cash sum, the value of which can vary due to a variety of factors.

Who Won’t Be Asked to Volunteer?

While some airlines give priority boarding to premium customers or those in business class, Air France doesn’t offer a priority list or stipulate that they make particular exclusions when looking for volunteers. In fact, some Air France customers have even posted online about being bumped from their flight despite being long-term Platinum members.

That being said, it’s standard practice for airlines to exclude unaccompanied minors, those with disabilities, carers, veterans, and families when asking for volunteers.

Air France branded aeroplane in a clear blue sky

Involuntary Denied Boarding by Air France: What Happens?

If not enough people volunteer to give up their seats, Air France will usually be obliged to deny boarding to certain passengers. In many cases, this selection can be entirely random, and might simply boil down to check-in status. Or, as mentioned above, the airline might choose to give priority to those in predetermined categories.

But if you do end up being denied boarding involuntarily, remember that you have the right to both financial compensation as well as immediate help from Air France. Here’s what you can get:

Alternative Transport

Air France offers to reroute all denied boarding passengers on the next available flight to their final destination, at no extra charge. This is subject to availability, although you do also have the option of selecting your own rerouted flight at a later date.


If your flight is no longer necessary, you have the right to a refund for the full price of your ticket, as well as a refund for any other journeys made that no longer serve a purpose. For example, if you took a connecting flight or even a train into the airport, but now you’re returning home, these extra journeys may also be eligible for a refund, subject to certain conditions.

Refreshments and Accommodation

For the duration of your wait in the airport, Air France also offers free meals and beverages proportional to your delay time, as well as accommodation if your rerouted flight isn’t on the same day. You also have the right to a prepaid phone card, or the cost of making two telephone calls up to 5 minutes each in length.

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Compensation for Involuntary Denied Boarding by Air France

Aside from getting a refund on your ticket and the organisation of alternative transport, you’re also entitled to financial compensation if you end up being bumped from your flight with Air France.

Per EU rules, flights that take off from within the European Union offer denied boarding compensation directly proportional to the length of your original flight.

Check our table below to see what you could be entitled to:

Distance of Flight

Eligible Compensation

1500 km or less


Over 1500 km (within the EU) and all other flights between 1 500 and 3 500 km


Over 3500 km


It’s also worth noting that you’re only eligible for compensation if you’ve complied with Air France’s check-in time requirements, and that compensation is not available to those denied boarding on “reasonable grounds” relating to health and safety, security, or insufficient travel documentation.

If you’re still unsure about what you might be owed, check out our compensation calculator to see how much you could claim today. You can input extra details about the flight, the airport you were denied boarding in, and how the airline resolved the problem, and we’ll be able to offer you a custom estimation of how much compensation you could be entitled to. And as we work on a no-win, no-fee basis, you don’t need to worry about racking up more expenses!

full plane cabin with travellers

When Am I Not Entitled to Compensation?

If you’ve been denied boarding on an Air France flight outside the EU, local regulations regarding financial compensation will usually apply. It’s also important to remember that if you’ve been denied boarding due to reasons outside the airline’s control (for example, weather conditions) this can complicate your claim.

If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible for compensation, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at AirAdvisor for guidance and a custom approach to your claim. We’ve helped almost 250,000 passengers like you get the money back that they deserve, and we’ll be happy to make sure that you get the same compensation!

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Are airlines allowed to overbook?

Yes, air carriers in the EU are allowed to overbook as a means of ensuring the maximum number of passengers on any given flight. If this happens to you within the EU, you have the right to claim up to €600 in compensation.

Does Air France have a lot of cancellations?

While there’s no public data showing how often Air France cancels their flights, it’s worth noting that general action and worker’s strikes are a frequent occurrence in France. As recently as April 2024, airport workers in France went on strike, leading to 75% of flights being cancelled at Paris Orly airport and 55% of flights cancelled at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

When do I get paid compensation if I’m denied boarding with Air France?

According to Air France’s Passenger Rights, compensation is offered at the airport if you’re denied boarding due to an overbooked flight. However, you can also claim on an overbooked flight for up to 3 years after you were denied boarding, providing you have all the documentation to prove your case.

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