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Cathay Pacific Denied Boarding: Getting Compensation for Overbooking

Cathay Pacific Denied Boarding: Getting Compensation for Overbooking
Jeremiah Awogboro
Written By Jeremiah Awogboro
Last Updated: May 10, 2024

Carriers reserve the right to deny boarding to certain passengers, provided the conditions align with UK laws. Cathay Pacific overbooking its flights is a prominent reason, but not the only one. For example, the carrier denied boarding to a Reddit user kornspitz, because of what the carrier suspected to be an eye infection.

It turns out that the passenger caught sand in the eyes and was subsequently cleared by medical personnel to fly. Getting denied boarding compensation for grounds other than overbooking can be challenging. Fortunately, our AirAdvisor airline compensation experts understand the terrain too well, so we can provide you with the best advice.

Cathay Pacific carried over 20 million passengers in 2023. Even so, it managed to keep its bumped flight incidents due to overbooking from becoming public scandals and PR disasters. Our focus here will be denied boarding on an overbooked flight, so you can get the compensation you deserve.

Is this your first time getting bumped on a Cathay Pacific overbooked flight?

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What Overbooking Is and Why Cathay Pacific Does It

Overbooking is an industry-wide practice, although some carriers do their best to avoid it. It is the practice of selling more tickets for a flight than the flight’s capacity allows. We understand carriers’ approach to maximizing their returns by filling up the seats even when some passengers don’t turn up.

The downside to this overbooking practice is that you can get bumped as a passenger, even after getting a boarding pass. Still, there’s no need to lose your cool, as you will be eligible for denied boarding compensation when that happens. That is why AirAdvisor is here — to guide you all the way.

Cathay Pacific has its internal policies for denied boarding, in the same way the UK Civil Aviation Authority protects passengers from this uncomfortable experience. We’ll explore both and what you can do to get what you deserve and ensure your travel plans are intact.

One thing you should know is that Cathay Pacific is open to overbooking its flights.


The carrier’s policy states that it overbooks its flights from time to time.


Overbooking will likely lead to denied boarding if more passengers turn up for the flight. However, Cathay Pacific’s policy is to seek volunteers to give up their seats first. The carrier will only revert to denying passengers boarding when it can’t get enough volunteers.

plane in the foggy sky cathay pacific

Regulations and Your Rights as a Passenger if Cathay Pacific Denies You Boarding After Overbooking its Flight

Cathay Pacific uses boarding priority to determine which passengers will be denied boarding on an overbooked flight. However, it must compensate the affected passengers according to UK laws.

This compensation should be automatic at the airport, but we can’t guarantee that. One of your primary passenger rights is to ask the staff about compensation for the discomfort and disruption to your travel plans. You can start by confirming that you were denied boarding because the flight was overbooked.

With that in mind, let’s review your rights when you’re denied boarding against your will.

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Involuntary Denied Boarding

Cathay Pacific is committed to making the denied boarding experience as comfortable as possible. The carrier does this by ensuring your rights under UK law. Hence, you are entitled to all the assistance you can get until you board the next available flight if you wish to continue your journey.

While the carrier is committed to assisting you, things might be rough at the terminal. Reminding the staff of your rights won’t hurt. On the contrary, it could expedite action on your case.

The following rights will apply if you board a flight from a UK or European airport. 

  • The right to assistance: Cathay Pacific will provide all the help you need to board the next available flight. How fast the alternative flight arrives will depend on seat availability. Hence, speak calmly to the boarding agents if you need any assistance.
  • The right to accommodation and care: You can enjoy a few benefits if the next available flight is a few hours late or comes the next day. Cathay Pacific will provide accommodation and transport, meals, and refreshments based on your waiting time. In addition, you’ll receive access to two telephone calls, telex, fax, or emails.

The above rights apply if you pick the next available flight under comparable conditions. That means flying the same flight class as your bumped flight.

You can contact our AirAdvisor experts for your rights if your flight was from outside the EU or the UK.


Cathay Pacific offers cash compensation to account for the inconvenience, which we will see in a moment.


boarding on the plane cathay pacific

Voluntary Denied Boarding

We can’t tell what Cathay Pacific will provide if you voluntarily give up your seat. That is an arrangement between the carrier and the affected passenger. What we can be sure of is that the carrier will make the offer as attractive as possible to avoid resorting to involuntary denied boarding.

You can negotiate the terms and benefits with the airline. For example, you can negotiate to be on the next available flight and get a voucher or a ticket you can use later. The choice is yours, depending on what Cathay Pacific offers.

Some carriers have a more straightforward system where you can decide before even arriving at the boarding gate. Wizz Air is prominent for its pay-what-you-bid compensation system for voluntary denied boarding. Cathay Pacific adopts a different approach, which you can discuss with the gate agent.

Your Other Rights

You don’t have to take the next available flight if that no longer fits your travel plans. The next available flight could be four hours late or more. Fortunately, you have other rights to ease the discomfort.

The following are additional rights when denied boarding on a Cathay Pacific flight for overbooking:

  • You can defer the alternative flight to another date and fly at your convenience.
  • You can request a refund for the parts of your journey not covered after getting bumped. For example, you can get a refund for the total cost of your return ticket if you are bumped on an outbound leg.
  • Cathay Pacific can provide a flight back to your starting point if you paid for connecting flights and the journey no longer fits your travel plans.
We work on a No-Win, No-Fee basis

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

Cathay Pacific Denied Boarding Compensation: How Much You Can Get After Getting Bumped

Monetary compensation is available if Cathay Pacific denies you boarding involuntarily. Note that this compensation differs from a refund if you no longer wish to continue the journey.

That said, the table below shows the compensation options you can pick:

Option 1

Option 2

£520 in cash

4,000 Asia miles + £260

Cathay Pacific may slash the compensation by 50%. It will do that if it offers an alternative flight and the arrival time is no more than four hours from the original arrival time.

The Recommended Action if Cathay Pacific Overbooked Your Flight and Denied You Boarding Involuntarily

As mentioned, you can speak calmly with the boarding agents immediately after you are denied boarding. That should get you sorted.

AirAdvisor can help you if you are no longer at the airport to speak with the boarding agents. Maybe it’s been a few days since you were bumped from the flight, and you have yet to receive compensation. Our experts have helped over 200,000 passengers and are well acquainted with bursting through the bottlenecks.

Here’s what we want you to do:

  1. Round up all your flight-related documents, including the boarding pass, reservation confirmation, luggage tag, etc.
  2. Make copies of the receipts for the meals you bought and the accommodation you paid for while waiting for the alternative flight.
  3. Contact our AirAdvisor experts to check your flight or enter your flight details in our compensation calculator to see if you're eligible.
  4. Follow our instructions and guidance.

inside cathay pacific airplane

Exceptions: When You Are Ineligible for Denied Boarding Compensation

Cathay Pacific may use a smaller aircraft for safety concerns. Denying boarding to a few passengers will be inevitable if volunteers are inadequate. Even so, you will be ineligible for the overbooked flight compensation when bumped.

Cathay Pacific Policy

Travelling free of charge excludes you from receiving denied boarding compensation if you get bumped. The same policy applies if you travel at a reduced fare unavailable to the public.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if the next alternative flight is delayed?

You will receive compensation for the delay. That may include accommodation, meals, and refreshments, depending on the time.

Am I eligible for compensation if I was denied boarding a year ago?

Cathay Pacific will compensate those bumped from an overbooked flight within the past six years so, contact AirAdvisor to proceed with your compensation claims.

How long does Cathay Pacific take to pay denied boarding compensation?

The payment will be available as soon as operationally possible. However, that often occurs within 48 hours of denying you boarding.

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