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British Airways Overbooking: Getting Compensation for Denied Boarding

British Airways Overbooking: Getting Compensation for Denied Boarding
Jeremiah Awogboro
Written By Jeremiah Awogboro
Last Updated: April 25, 2024

The UK flag-bearing carrier experienced its busiest year in 2023 since the pandemic. It served over 106 million passengers in 2022 before climbing to 90% of its 2019 capacity in 2023. Even so, you can still find yourself on a British Airways overbooked flight.

British Airways (BA) experienced some debacles regarding involuntary denied boarding in October 2023. Ms. Savage, a recent BA passenger, wasn’t particularly thrilled with the experience, claiming that


it has been beyond frustrating trying to complain and get compensation from them.

However, she was denied boarding due to a wrongful assessment of the traveler’s passport.

Did a British Airways gate agent deny you boarding without your consent? Learn more about how to get compensation and reimbursement for additional expenses below.

Ms. Savage’s experience may have been denied boarding without her consent, but it wasn’t due to overbooking. Notwithstanding, we will show you the better approach if you are bumped from a British Airways overbooked flight. You can always contact AirAdvisor’s experts for more clarity.

british airways flight taking off

What is Denied Boarding and Why Do Airlines Do It?

Denied boarding occurs on overbooked flights. That is when the carrier will prevent a few customers from boarding the flight, even when they are cleared to board it.

An overbooked flight occurs when the airline sells more tickets than seats on the aircraft. Airlines do this after analyzing their no-show rate. The airline may oversell tickets for maximum revenue if the no-show rate is high enough.

Airlines have improved, with some reporting zero bumped flight experiences, like Delta Air Lines. The US Department of Transportation reported a 2023 bump rate of 35%, less than 36% from the previous year.

The denied boarding process begins with volunteers. Here, the airline gate agents ask for volunteers to give up their seats for specific rewards. For example, British Airways operates compensation schemes in line with US law for voluntary denied boarding.

Involuntary denied boarding will occur if the carrier still has more passengers than seats available. Then, it will deny some passengers and offer denied boarding compensation, which may include hotel accommodation during the waiting time.

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Regulations and Passenger Rights in Case of Overbooking

Our experts at AirAdvisor have helped over 250,000 passengers get compensation on bumped US flights. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has governing regulations for bumping. While airlines can develop in-house policies on overbooking, you have some passenger rights when you book a flight.

Here’s what you need to know about involuntary and voluntary denied boarding on British Airways.

Involuntary Denied Boarding

British Airways has an overbooked flight compensation policy for passengers. The carrier also uses a group boarding system to determine the order or sequence in which passengers board the flights. Passengers in the last group are more likely to get bumped.

The following are the groups for British Airways flights:

  • Preboarding group: Passengers with special needs like mobility assistance and families with infants under two years are in this group.
  • Priority boarding: This group includes First Executive Club Gold Members, One World Emerald Members, and first-class passengers. The business class to the premium economy and one-world Ruby members are also in this group.
  • Economy class: Passengers in this class occupy groups 4 to 9.

While those in the last group are likely to be bumped, federal regulations offer some rights to protect you. First, the US DOT requires British Airways to have the smallest possible number of bumped passengers. It also prevents the carrier from bumping you if it has scanned your boarding pass and put you on the flight.


The law mandates carriers to compensate passengers who are denied boarding involuntarily.

Safety and security reasons may override your rights even after boarding. An example is when you are denied boarding to accommodate a US flight marshal. Even so, the carrier will request volunteers before denying boarding.

aircraft with boarding stairs

Voluntary Denied Boarding

There is no fixed compensation if you agree to give up your seat on an overbooked flight. However, you can negotiate your compensation.

Carriers, including British Airways, often offer attractive incentives to get more volunteers and avoid bumping passengers. Your rights if you volunteer for denied boarding include the following:

  • The airline must inform you of any restrictions on the reduced ticket, free ticket, or voucher.
  • You can ask the airline about the next available flight where you can get a confirmed seat.
  • You can inquire about free meals, accommodation, phone vouchers, etc.

The gate agent will provide more details regarding the compensation for voluntary denied boarding. Even so, you can accept or reject it.

Your Other Rights When Bumped

You can always confirm if your intended flight is oversold. That will prepare you for voluntary or involuntary denied boarding. In addition, you can obtain a statement from the airline explaining your rights towards overbooked flights.

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British Airways Denied Boarding Compensation – How Much Can You Get?

While British Airways is not specific on its compensation, the US DOT has provided a range for it. The compensation depends on the distance of your intended flight and the waiting period until you get on an alternative flight. This compensation should be available as soon as possible.

You are only eligible for compensation if you meet the following conditions:

  • You arrived at the departure gate and checked in on time.
  • You have a confirmed reservation.
  • British Airways cannot provide an alternative flight to get you to your destination within an hour of your original arrival time

The table below outlines the compensation rate from the US DOT:

Flight Type

Delay (hours)


Domestic flights

1 to 2

200% of a one-way fare up to $775.

Over 2

400% of a one-way fare up to $1,550

International flights

1 to 4

200% of a one-way fare up to $775.

Over 4

400% of a one-way fare up to $1,550


British Airways may offer more than the rate from the US DOT. That is totally at the carrier’s discretion.


group of passengers walking to the gate before boarding the airplane

What to Do if British Airways Overbooked and You Were Denied Boarding

You can consult a third party before submitting your compensation claims to British Airways. Our experts at AirAdvisor are happy to help. You can work with us to receive adequate compensation for your troubles.

Follow the steps below if you are denied boarding:

  1. Make copies of all your travel-related documents. These include the boarding pass, flight ticket, luggage tag, e-ticket, etc.
  2. Make copies of receipts for all additional expenses incurred during your wait time for an alternative flight.
  3. Visit the AirAdvisor homepage to contact our denied boarding compensation experts.
  4. Provide all relevant information to substantiate your compensation claim.

British Airways requires you to submit your claim first and allow 28 days before contacting a third party to take over the process. Also, you must provide adequate authorization that mandates the third-party company to work on your behalf.

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Exceptions: When You Are Not Entitled to Compensation

You can be removed from a flight for reasons other than overbooking. The reasons may include the following:

  • Intoxication or operating under the influence of an illegal drug.
  • Attempting to interfere with the flight crew member’s duties.
  • Unruly behavior or disrupting flight operations
  • Offensive odor from another cause outside disability or illness

The carrier can bump you off the flight without compensation. Other reasons bumping may happen without compensation are as follows:

  • The flight changed to a smaller aircraft with fewer seats for operational or safety reasons
  • You were forced off the flight because of weight and balance restrictions. This case only holds for aircraft with 60 seats or less.
  • The carrier made a class downgrade. You will be entitled to the price difference between the two classes.

Airline Policy

British Airways has conditions of carriage in its legal policy. Violating these conditions may get you bumped without compensation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I direct my compensation claim to British Airways?

Contact the customer relations team by filling out the carrier’s online compensation claim form. You can write British Airways customer relations if you cannot make an online claim. The airline has a status checker to monitor the entire process.

Can I get a refund for my flight ticket if I’m denied boarding involuntarily?

British Airways will offer compensation according to its internal policies and the US DOT’s regulations. You may get compensation higher than your flight ticket if you incurred other expenses because of the flight bump.

Will British Airways reimburse my expenses?

The carrier will reimburse reasonable expenses according to company policy. Also, it won’t cover any consequential losses, like missed hotel stays.

How long should I wait before filing compensation claims with British Airways?

We recommend filling out the online compensation form immediately to register your complaint. British Airways promises to review your claim as soon as possible. However, we cannot tell how long before they respond.


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