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American Airlines Overbooking: How to Get Compensation for Denied Boarding

American Airlines Overbooking: How to Get Compensation for Denied Boarding
Jeremiah Awogboro
Written By Jeremiah Awogboro
Last Updated: May 22, 2024

The overall bump rate of the top 10 US carriers stood at 0.32 per 10,000 passengers in 2022. American Airlines had a rate of 0.38 the same year. Notwithstanding, the denied boarding rate for the top ten carriers fell to 0.30 per 10,000 passengers in 2023.

American Airlines operated nearly two million flights in 2023, with plans to expand its capacity. The CEO, Robert Isom, reiterated the company’s commitment to modernize and simplify its fleet. This came on the heels of an order for 260 aircraft.

Despite the expansion, an overbooked flight is still a typical experience. AirAdvisor’s experts are here to guide you if you’ve experienced involuntary denied boarding on an American Airlines flight. We’ll explain the company’s policies, including the denied boarding compensation to expect.

What Denied Boarding is and Why Airlines Opt for It

An overbooked flight occurs when passengers purchase more tickets than the number of seats onboard. The more the tickets outnumber the available seats, the greater the chances of a bumped flight. If your flight is overbooked, this can result in involuntary denied boarding.

Most airlines, including American Airlines, opt for overbooking because they believe that fewer passengers will check in for the flight. They do that to avoid losses and maximize profits. Moreover, the overbooking guarantees that each flight will be at maximum capacity.

While an effective strategy for revenue, overbooking becomes a challenge, and the airline must compensate bumped passengers. Airlines classify this under their denied boarding compensation policies.

American Airlines will first seek volunteer passengers to give up their seats in exchange for airline compensation. However, this approach might still leave excess tickets for the flight, and require the airline to deny some passengers boarding.

That means the passenger is forcefully (not physically) denied boarding. Even so, the airline is required to compensate the passenger accordingly.

The AirAdvisor legal team can guide you through the compensation process for bumped flights. We understand that the practice is unfair, but most airlines will continue to prioritize profit.

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Regulations and Passenger Rights In Case of Overbooking

Our experts are aware of federal regulations concerning overbooked flights. Nevertheless, the government permits airlines to develop their own policies, provided they do not violate federal laws.

Understanding your passenger rights requires an understanding of federal regulations and company policies. Let’s examine what federal regulations and American Airlines policies say about your rights during overbooking.

American Airlines passenger was denied boarding due to overbooked flight

Involuntary Denied Boarding

American Airlines has a policy for involuntary denied boarding, including compensation. However, the airline selects passengers to get bumped solely at its discretion.

Federal regulations by the US Department of Transportation require airlines to have the smallest practicable number of passengers denied boarding. The department also prohibits involuntarily denied boarding if your boarding pass has been collected and scanned and you are already on the flight. However, your seat is still subject to safety and security concerns.

We’ve seen cases where passengers might be asked to give up their seats for a flight marshal. However, that will only happen if the airline cannot find volunteers.

American Airlines offers the following boarding priority in its involuntary denied boarding policy:

  • Passengers with special assistance needs
  • A passenger travelling as an unaccompanied minor
  • Passengers with AAdvantage elite status
  • Passengers who paid for first, business, or premium economy flights
  • Passengers who checked in at the earliest

Passengers Those in theose categories have the least chance of being denied boarding, and passengers who check in late have the greatest most chances. Nonetheless, you can get compensation for the discomfort and disruption of your travel schedule.

Passenger was Denied Boarding

Voluntary Denied Boarding

American Airlines introduced a “pay what you bid” policy for voluntary denied boarding in 2019. Passengers can volunteer to be bumped on the American Airlines app. However, these passengers will be given different amounts as compensation.

The gate agents will discuss their arrangements and protection vouchers with the customers individually to ascertain their preferences. You can also get AAdvantage miles or gift cards in place of vouchers.

American Airlines promises to compensate volunteers in a form and amount it considers fair. However, the new company policy places the determination of compensation solely at the company’s discretion. Hence, there is no fixed compensation for all situations.

You can ask for clarifications before volunteering on the app. Also, the gate agent will call for volunteers if the airline cannot get enough volunteers on the app. Compensation will be discussed privately with the gate agent.

Your Other Rights When Bumped

We recommend inquiring if your American Airlines flight is overbooked when booking. Federal regulations have provisions for that. Hence, the sales agent is bound to respond and confirm the overbooking for the flight.

Another right you have is to obtain a statement from American Airlines explaining your rights when you are involuntarily denied boarding. While American Airlines determines who gets bumped, the statement should contain the company’s fair boarding policies.

American Airlines Denied Boarding Compensation: How Much You Can Get

American Airlines boarding bridge

American Airlines Overbooking in the United States

Involuntary denied boarding situations, caused by oversold flights, are one area where US passengers can enjoy federally mandated compensation. So, if you’re bumped from an American Airlines flight for this reason you are entitled to a rebooking at no extra charge.

In addition to this, you are entitled to as much as $1,550 USD in cash compensation from American Airlines if you are delayed by an hour or more at your final destination. The amount you receive is based on the price of your ticket and the duration of your delay. Moreover, American Airlines must issue your compensation within 24 hours of your flight.

The following table will give you a better idea of how much to expect for denied boarding compensation from American Airlines for domestic flights.

Fight type

Domestic Flight

International Flight

Delay time

1 to 2 hours delay

Over 2 hours delay

1 to 4 hours delay

Over 4 hours delay

Compensation

200% of one-way fares with a maximum of $775

400% of one-way fares with a maximum of $1,550

200% of one-way fares with a maximum of $775

400% of one-way fares with a maximum of $1,550

Do you think you should be compensated for the inconvenience caused by being denied boarding? Learn how compensation works on American Airlines

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AirAdvisor is happy to help with your claim, so you can avoid the stress of dealing with airlines and complicated laws.

Denied Boarding in the EU and UK

When it comes to compensation for denied boarding, the EU and UK regulations require American Airlines to put you on another flight to your final destination or give you the option of a full ticket refund. These two regions also require the airline to provide care and assistance as well as cash compensation for the inconvenience caused. The exact amount you receive could be as much as $650 USD and is calculated by the distance of your flight and the length of your delay.

Denied Boarding Incidents with American Airlines in Canada

If you’re denied boarding in Canada because your flight has been oversold then American Airlines is required to:

  1. Rebook you on another flight or
  2. Offer you a full ticket refund and
  3. Provide care and assistance while you wait (if you choose to accept the rebooked flight) and
  4. Cash compensation up to $2,400 CAD ($1,760 USD), calculated by the amount of time you are delayed at your final destination.

Compensation for Denied Boarding in Canada

Duration of Delay

Amount of Compensation

Up to 6 hours

$665 USD / $900 CAD

Between 6 and 9 hours

$1,330 USD / $1,800 CAD

More than 9 hours

$1,773 USD / $2,400 CAD

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* Payment must be made to passengers as soon as they are denied boarding or within 48 hours of their flight.

What to Do If an American Airlines Flight Was Overbooked and You Were Denied Boarding

AirAdvisor has a 98% success rate with our clients on denied boarding compensation. We recommend partnering with us when you get bumped on your American Airlines flight. Here’s what you should do to position yourself for compensation:

  1. Keep your boarding pass, luggage tag, e-ticket, booking information, and other documents related to your original flight or the alternative.
  2. Make the receipts for all additional expenses caused by the boarding denial available.
  3. Visit our AirAdvisor homepage to work with our compensation experts.
  4.  Provide all the requested documents.

The American Airlines helpline is also open for complaints regarding your flight bump. Contact the customer service team if you do not receive compensation within a day. Otherwise, we are open to helping you.

Exceptions: When You Are Not Entitled to Compensation

Some situations do not allow for compensation when bumped from a flight. These situations are covered under federal regulations. They include the following:

  • When operational or safety cases force the airline to use a smaller plane,
  • When the weight or balance restrictions require a reduction in the number of passengers. (This only applies to planes that seat 60 or fewer passengers),
  • When you are downgraded to another seating class on the same flight. (In this case, the airline should pay the difference between the two classes),
  • When the flight is outside the airline’s regular schedule (chartered flights qualify under this reason).

Airline Policy

American Airlines adheres to all federal regulations in this regard. However, a few extra reasons make a passenger ineligible for denied boarding compensation. They include the following:

  • Failure to comply with the airline’s ticketing, check-in, and reconfirmation requirements will make you ineligible for compensation.
  • You will be ineligible if you are not acceptable for the flight under the airline’s usual rules and practices. 
  • Cancelled flights do not qualify for denied boarding compensation. For more information, refer to AirAdvisor’s cancelled flight compensation guide.
  • The airline will not compensate you if it gets you to your destination within one hour of your original arrival time.
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We assume all legal costs

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What assistance can I get from American Airlines if my flight bump results in an overnight stay?

The airline is obliged to assist in any way necessary. That includes access to communication (phones and emails), meal vouchers, and accommodation.

How long should I wait before filing a claim for denied boarding compensation?

You should wait for 24 hours before filing the claim. That is because the airline offers compensation immediately at the airport within 24 hours. It can also forward the compensation to you by mail.

Can I get a refund if I am denied boarding?

American Airlines will offer fair compensation. Nonetheless, you can request a refund.

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