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ITA Overbooked Flight Compensation: What You Need To Know

ITA Overbooked Flight Compensation: What You Need To Know
Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
Last Updated: July 10, 2024

With 14.8 million passengers in 2023 alone, Rome-based ITA Airways is one of the busiest airlines in Europe - so it’s highly possible that you’ve been on an ITA flight when travelling to the sunny Mediterranean. But what happens if you’re denied boarding because ITA has booked too many passengers on your scheduled plane?

Generally speaking, it’s not uncommon for airline companies to overestimate the number of passengers on any given flight. This practice is referred to as “overbooking”, whereby airline companies sell a higher number of tickets than those available. While inconvenient, the main purpose of this is to allow airlines to recoup the cost of the estimated 5% of ticket-holders who either cancel their flight or don’t show up on the day, and ensure the highest possible number of passengers on seats.

And in the world of air travel, this isn’t anything new; other European-based airlines like BritishAirwaysAir FranceKLM are also known to overbook their planes, as do international players like Delta and American Airlines. Luckily, in the EU where ITA is based, you do have the right to both rerouting and denied boarding compensation if you’re bumped from your flight.

So, what does the process look like, and how much compensation can you claim? Let’s take a look.

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Why Do Airlines Overbook Flights?

As we mentioned above, airlines tend to overbook their flights as a means of combating no-shows and cancellations. It’s important to remember that the profit margin for just one seat on a commercial flight is around £7-8 for economy class, so the cumulative effect of thousands of cancelled tickets would make it hard for airlines to offer dynamic pricing.

So while it’s certainly a pain if you end up on a bumped flight, know that there is at least one advantage: flight tickets would be considerably higher if airlines could only sell a fixed amount of tickets.

As one expert warned,


fares would go up immediately [if overbooking became illegal], as airlines would not have that financial safety net anymore.

The good news might be that ITA doesn’t have the same reputation for overbooking as some other major European airlines. As one Reddit user said in a discussion about overbooked flights:


[Overbooking] happens in Europe as well. One ITA flight had to do it [a] few days ago, and the Italian press handled it as a major news [story].


So, what actually happens when all passengers with a reserved ticket turn up for their flight? Thankfully, most airlines have policies to combat this if it occurs. Plus,, European Union regulations - notably Regulation (EC) n. 261/2004 - also ensures that if you’re denied boarding within the EU, you have a right to both financial compensation and a reroute to your intended destination.

ITA airways denied boarding compensation

Denied Boarding ITA: Regulations and Passenger Rights 

Voluntary Denied Boarding

If you’re on an ITA flight that’s been overbooked, the first thing the airline staff will do is ask if any passengers would be willing to give up their seats in exchange for financial compensation. This is known as voluntary denied boarding, and the airline will typically offer a variable sum of compensation to offset the inconvenience.

While there’s no available data on how much ITA might offer, you could expect to be compensated anywhere from £200 to £1000, depending on the flight length and how many overbooked passengers there are. Unlike involuntary denied boarding, there aren’t fixed regulations that determine the value of compensation. 

Involuntary Denied Boarding

In some cases, not enough passengers will be willing to give up their seats, meaning that ITA will be obliged to deny boarding to specific passengers, known as “involuntary denied boarding.” If this happens to you, you’ll have the right under EU law to:

  • Priority placement on the next available flight to your destination 
  • Refreshments and food for the duration of your wait
  • Free hotel accommodation if you need an overnight stay while waiting for your next flight.
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Who Won’t Be Asked To Volunteer?

While ITA doesn’t outline exactly who won't be asked to volunteer, generally the following passengers won’t be bumped:

  • Children and minors flying without an adult
  • Passengers with physical disabilities or service animals
  • Carers for those with disabilities
  • Passengers who have already been asked to give up a seat and are now being rerouted to their destination
  • Premium or platinum customers (although this can vary from airline to airline)


Under the same EU regulation, you also have the right to refuse a rebooking from ITA if your flight is no longer necessary, and also claim a refund both for the ticket and any other relevant travel expenses. For example, if you were flying for a wedding that was due to take place the next day, and the only next available flight is in 2 days, you have the right to claim a full refund for the price of your initial ticket, and claim on any additional expenses (such as connecting flights or train tickets to the airport).

Remember - you’ll need to be able to prove that your expenses were directly related to your flight in order to claim compensation and get refunded. We’d recommend trying out our simple-to-use compensation calculator to see if you’re eligible for compensation and to find out how much you might be entitled to.

people in the airport going on boarding

Involuntary Denied Boarding ITA: Compensation

When it comes to claiming compensation for your flight, ITA state that they adhere to “international, EU and national regulations in force”. This means you’ll be entitled to the following compensation depending on the length of your flight:

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


And if you need expert guidance throughout the claims process, you can enlist the help of us at AirAdvisor. We know what it’s like to have plans ruined due to airline incompetency - our founder Anton Radchenko was involuntarily denied boarding in 2017 by Lufthansa, and ended up stranded at Frankfurt Airport during what was supposed to be his wedding anniversary. Even being a practising lawyer, he struggled to get compensation from the airline.

Since this incident, AirAdvisor was founded on one simple principle - to fight for the rights of passengers against the multinational airline companies that don’t have the resources nor the time to process their claims. We fight your case, handle the administrative side of things, and work on a no-win, no-fee basis - so you don’t need to spend a penny or worry about losing more money.

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Denied Boarding ITA: What To Do Next

We know how inconvenient it can be when you’ve been denied boarding on an important flight, but what should your first steps be? Here’s what to do:

Get Help

As we noted above, ITA adheres to EU regulations when it comes to overbooked flights, so you should speak with a member of staff to ensure you’re able to access complimentary refreshments and a meal while you wait. If you end up buying any other essentials while you wait for your next flight, keep the receipts as you may be able to claim these back too.

Get Rebooked or Refunded

If you still plan on flying, make sure the airline books you as a priority on the next available flight. If your flight is no longer necessary, you have the right to demand a refund as well as have ITA cover the cost of transportation back to your original destination. If you’ve already incurred expenses while travelling - for example, you flew to your current airport to take your flight - you also have the right to be refunded for these costs. 

Speak with Us

As we mentioned above, we at AirAdvisor specialise in defending your passenger rights against incompetent, profit-focused airlines. So if you’ve been denied boarding due to an airline’s own mismanagement, get in touch with us today - you may be owed more than you think!

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Do EU compensation laws still apply in the UK?

Yes, many EU rules - including Regulation (EC) n. 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the European Council - still apply in the UK post-Brexit. That said, airlines like ITA may choose to apply national rules if you’re on a bumped flight outside the EU.

Does ITA Airways always give refunds for overbooking?

In most cases, yes. ITA is bound by EU Regulation; this means that in order to operate within the EU, they need to play by the rules when it comes to passenger rights. In some rarer cases, flights may be overbooked due to disruptions outside the airline’s control - for example, they may need to downsize to a smaller plane in extreme weather conditions. In these instances, they may be unable to offer compensation. 



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