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Air India Overbooking: What to Do to Get Compensation When Denied Boarding

Air India Overbooking: What to Do to Get Compensation When Denied Boarding
Jeremiah Awogboro
Written By Jeremiah Awogboro
Last Updated: June 12, 2024

The Tata-owned airline hasn’t operated smoothly in the United States or its home country. It has received several fines and sanctions for failing to comply with regulations and properly compensating passengers for cancelled flights and involuntary denied boarding. Hence, you risk running into an overbooking incident with Air India more than with the top ten U.S. carriers.

Overbooking isn’t uncommon among carriers, but we expect them to treat passengers fairly by providing alternative flights and due compensation. Air India flew over 1 million passengers to and from the U.S. in 2023. While the number is relatively smaller than other carriers we’ve reviewed, it has high customer complaints, among which is denied boarding.

AirAdvisor will provide all the information you need to file a compensation claim, whether you’ve been denied boarding involuntarily or want to know your rights when flying Air India. Today, we’ll pay special attention to your compensation when denied boarding in a U.S. or EU/UK airport.

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All you have to do is submit the application and wait for the compensation to be received.

What Happens When Air India Denies You Boarding and Why the Carrier Might Do It

Overbooking is one of many reasons that can result in involuntary denied boarding. The practice results in having more passengers than seats available on the aircraft. 

Carriers oversell their flights to ensure they fly at maximum capacity and make the most profits. They often use complex algorithms to analyse their no-show rates and know when to oversell the flight. Sometimes, the approach works, and the carriers don’t have to deny any passenger boarding involuntarily. Even when more passengers show up, the carrier can fall back on persuading a few passengers to give up their seats. Incentives are available, but passengers can still refuse.

If the carrier can’t get enough volunteers, it unavoidably falls back on denying passengers boarding. Of course, U.S. and EU/UK regulations mandate carriers to compensate affected passengers, including an immediate alternative flight and support if passengers must wait.

With orders for 470 jets in early 2023 and the planned hiring of over 4,200 cabin crew and 900 pilots, we certainly hope Air India’s worst days are behind them. The increased number of jets can reduce denied boarding incidents. If they must occur, then the carrier will have adequate alternatives to prevent a public relations disaster.

Air India airplane

Regulations and Passenger Rights When Air India Denies You Boarding

Overbooked flight compensation is mandatory for all carriers flying from U.S. and EU/UK airports. Your passenger rights are protected by the law. However, some carriers need a little reminder to provide what you deserve after denying you boarding.

Compensation should be available immediately if the carrier denies you boarding. That includes assistance and relevant information on what to do.

The United States Department of Transportation has regulations that protect your rights. Similarly, EU Regulation 261/2004 and UK Regulation 261 protect you when flying from an EU/UK airport. Our compensation experts at AirAdvisor are ready to provide legal advice to you on how you can get Air India to adhere to these regulations. Of course, the carrier risks fines and sanctions if the case gets to the authorities.

We’ll address your rights in this section. Knowing what you’re entitled to will be helpful if you’ve been denied boarding or to prepare you for any future occurrence. With that in mind, here’s what to expect when you voluntarily give up your seat or when the carrier stops you from boarding the flight.

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Involuntary Denied Boarding

Air India promises to make its rules for compensation payment available at every US airport it operates in, so ask for them if you are denied boarding. Notwithstanding, the rights we’ll discuss are based on what the government regulatory bodies mandate all carriers to offer.

Complying with check-in and other applicable rules makes you eligible for denied boarding compensation. These applicable rules depend on Air India’s policies. However, the U.S. and the EU/UK consider you eligible for compensation if you meet the following conditions:

  • You have a confirmed reservation with Air India
  • You checked in on time
  • There’s no alternative flight to take you to your destination within one hour of the original arrival time.

An alternative flight is a must once Air India denies you boarding after overselling the flight. However, you’re not obligated to accept the flight. The carrier can’t force you on board.

If you reject the alternate flight because it doesn’t meet your travel needs, Air India must process a refund.

If you accept an alternate flight but have to wait for this new departure time, you are entitled to care. The care package will depend on how long you wait. For example, Air India is obliged to add hotel accommodation and transport to and from the hotel if the wait time requires an overnight stay.

Meals and refreshments are available in the compensation package.  If your alternate flight is cancelled or delayed, you can also get compensation under a different package, and we are happy to help if that happens.

woman air india denied boarding

Voluntary Denied Boarding

Giving up your seat is one way to get rewards from carriers. We can’t say how much Air India offers volunteers because the carrier solely determines the incentive. Moreover, the U.S. and EU/UK governments allow carriers to choose compensation packages for voluntary denied boarding.

Tickets and vouchers are typical in overbooked flight compensation for volunteers. However, the key is understanding the restrictions or terms of use. For example, some carriers may make their vouchers ineligible for holidays.

You can ask Air India the terms of use for the voucher and how long it remains valid. The law is on your side on this one. Air India must inform you of everything you need to know before you decide on the compensation package.

The boarding agents will inform you if there is a need for volunteers. Then, you can discuss the compensation before giving up your seat.

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Your Other Rights When Bumped

A crucial right you have is to defer your flight to another date. Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation where the alternative flight time no longer fits your immediate needs. In that case, inform Air India that you wish to defer the flight package to another day.

Air India will still pay your compensation. However, deferring the flight to another day makes you ineligible for the care package that may have been in place for the alternative flight.

Air India Overbooking: Your Compensation When Denied Boarding Involuntarily

The U.S. Department of Transportation mandates the following compensation for those denied boarding involuntarily:

Delay time


0 to one hour


1 to 4 hours

200% of one-way fare or a maximum of $775

Over 4 hours

400% of one-way fare or a maximum of $1,550


The compensation above applies to international flights, which is Air India’s primary flight itinerary in the U.S.

Your compensation when denied boarding in an EU/UK airport is as follows:

Flight length

Delay time


1,500 km

Over 2 hours


1,500 km

Less than 2 hours


1,500 km to 3,500 km

Over 3 hours


1,500 km to 3,500 km

Less than 3 hours


Over 3,500 km

Over 4 hours


Over 3,500 km

Less than 4 hours


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What to do When Air India Bumps You from A flight

Bumping can be due to other reasons besides ticket overselling. Hence, you must follow the steps below carefully:

  1. Obtain confirmation from Air India that you were denied boarding involuntarily because of overbooking. You should receive a written statement that also contains your rights.
  2. Gather all flight-related documents, including tickets, baggage tags, reservations, etc.
  3. Contact an AirAdvisor compensation expert on this page if compensation is not provided immediately.
  4. Provide all relevant documents to our expert.

Exceptions: When Air India Owes You No Compensation

There is no compensation if Air India switches to a smaller aircraft for safety or operational reasons. The same applies if the carrier gets you in a different section (cabin) on the flight. For the latter, Air India will refund the monetary difference.

Air India’s Policy

Violating the carrier’s booking policy can get you bumped without compensation. Air India will inform you of the policy violation while ushering you off the flight.

Did Air India’s boarding agents stop you from boarding your flight?

If yes, you may be entitled to compensation, provided the flight was overbooked. It takes less than 3 minutes


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I pay for my hotel while waiting and receive reimbursement later?

Air India will refund you if it cannot provide accommodation when you are denied boarding. Contact our AirAdvisor expert for legal advice.

Can I bargain for higher compensation when denied boarding?

You can bargain for a higher amount beyond what the U.S. and the EU/UK state. Taking Air India to court for damages is also another option besides taking the compensation.


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