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Qantas Overbooking: Your Rights to Compensation When Denied Boarding

Qantas Overbooking: Your Rights to Compensation When Denied Boarding
Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
Last Updated: July 09, 2024

The dreaded experience of being refused entry on a flight you paid for and checked in for can be frustrating and confusing. Unfortunately, denied boarding can occur with Qantas overbooking its flights. The good news is that our experts are available to help you make sense of the incident and ease the process of claiming your compensation.

Qantas has avoided a heavy PR disaster since asking 40 passengers to leave a flight in 2017 because of weight limitations. The carrier transported 45.73 million passengers in 2023. Still, the likelihood of getting a bumped flight with them is small, thanks to the Qantas Flight Switch program.

You’re probably wondering what your rights are when denied boarding. Should you corner a Qantas staff member demanding to go on board, or should you contact the UK Civil Aviation Authority? Not to worry because we will explain your passenger rights and the steps you need to take to mitigate the situation while you still enjoy your travel.

We assume all legal costs

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

What Denied Boarding Is and Why Qantas Does It

Imagine presenting your ticket, reservations, and all related documents only for the boarding agent to say you can’t fly because there are no more seats. Many questions will go through your mind, including why the carrier confirmed your booking if seats are unavailable. The most common explanation for this is overbooking, meaning the carrier has sold more tickets than the number of seats on the aircraft.

Overbooking is typical in the aviation industry, as carriers hope to predict the no-show rate and maximise revenue. Sometimes, their predictions work. Other times, the carriers end up with more passengers than expected for the flight.

Involuntary denied boarding happens when the boarding agent stops you from flying against your will. For overbooked flights, it is a last resort. Before they resort to this, they will first try to find volunteers willing to give up their seats.

Qantas operates the Flight Switch program to get volunteers off in-demand flights. That way, the carrier can avoid bumping passengers involuntarily. Notwithstanding, Qantas must invite you first to make the switch.

The carrier cannot bump you off a flight and leave you to your fate. Instead, it will provide compensation and care until you reach your destination.

We are here to help, whether you’ve been denied boarding or want to learn your rights. Our AirAdvisor experts can help you get compensation for denied boarding or a refund for cancelled flights.

Figuring out your overbooked flight compensation can be confusing. 

Let our AirAdvisor compensation experts help with your claims. 

Regulations and Passenger Rights When Denied Boarding

The US Department of Transportation and Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 ensures all passengers dropped from a bumped flight are well compensated. That includes monetary payments, care, and support until the affected passenger reaches the intended destination. Our experts are versed in the regulations in both regions (the US and the EU/UK) and have helped over 260,000 passengers.

You can sit back, relax, and speak calmly with a Qantas ground agent when involuntarily denied boarding. The carrier is well aware of its duties and responsibilities to you. Nonetheless, there is no harm in reminding the ground staff of the need to expedite action in getting you to your destination.


Our guide will help you prepare for any future occurrence where Qantas denies you boarding. In addition, you can apply it to any recent occurrence, be it a few minutes ago or months ago.

Let’s review your rights from two perspectives. The first will be when you are denied boarding involuntarily, and the second will be when you volunteer to give up your seat.

Involuntary Denied Boarding

Qantas operates local flights through code share services operated by British Airways. Hence, you can refer to our guide on British Airways denied boarding compensation if you are a local traveller. Compensation on Qantas international flights applies when the flight distance exceeds 3,500 km.

The compensation and assistance from Qantas will only be available if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your flight is due to depart from an EU, UK, or US airport.
  • Your reservation is confirmed.
  • Your reservation is available directly or indirectly to the public, or the tickets are part of a frequent flyer program or other commercial programs.
  • You presented yourself for check-in either in writing or electronically

You should receive monetary compensation and other reasonable assistance from Qantas if you are denied boarding because of overbooking. We can help you confirm if your flight was overbooked. That way, your compensation claim will be legitimate.

Once the bumped flight is confirmed as overbooked, you can choose among the following:

  • Reimbursement: Qantas will reimburse you within seven days. The reimbursement will cover the total ticket cost when you purchased it. You can also get reimbursement for the parts of your journey covered if continuing doesn’t fit your plans. A return flight to your starting point may be available where relevant.
  • Re-routing: The carrier will reroute you to your destination at the earliest opportunity. Also, the re-routing will occur under comparable conditions to your bumped flight.
  • Deferring the re-route to a later date: You can defer your alternative flight to another date outside the earliest opportunity Qantas provides. However, your chosen date will depend on seat availability. You will fly if Qantas can get a flight for you. Otherwise, you may have to pick a different flight.

Voluntary Denied Boarding

The benefits of volunteering your seat on an oversold flight are up to you and Qantas. Notwithstanding, you will still have the following options when giving up your seat:

  • The right to receive complete reimbursement for the flight within seven days
  • The right to an alternative flight under comparable flying conditions at the earliest opportunity
  • The right to defer your alternative flight to another day, pending seat availability

Unlike Wizz Air, which allows passengers to indicate their interest in volunteering, Qantas must invite you first through its Flight Switch program. Then, you can negotiate your benefits.

While negotiating, ensure you understand all the restrictions on the benefits. For example, a voucher may only cover local flights. That is common practice with other UK and US airlines.

Your Other Rights When Bumped

Did you have to wait hours for the alternative flight after getting bumped? Your care packages include the following:

  • Meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to your waiting time
  • Two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or emails
  • Hotel accommodation where a one- or more-night stay is necessary
  • Transport between the airport and the accommodation

Qantas may render this assistance through a partner agency. If you are affected by a bumped flight and the carrier isn’t forthcoming, you can approach the ground staff. Otherwise, contact our compensation experts to submit your claims.

Qantas Overbooking: How Much Affected Passengers Will Receive

Let’s see how much you can get if you are bumped on an outbound UK Qantas flight:

Flight Distance


Over 3,500 km


Qantas offers over 40 non-stop flights between Australia and the US per week. You can fall back on the US Department of Transportation regulations if you are ever bumped from your flight. Your compensation is as follows:

Delay time


0 to one hour

No compensation

One to four hours

200% of one-way fair up to $775

Over four hours

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

The delay time refers to the difference between your original scheduled arrival and the new arrival from the alternative flight. If the delay is within four hours, Qantas may reduce the compensation for outbound EU/UK flights to £260.

Were you denied boarding on a Qantas flight from the UK or US within the past few years?

You may be eligible for compensation of up to £520 or $1,550.

What to Do If Qantas Denies You Boarding Involuntarily

These are our recommended steps when Qantas denies you boarding against your will:

  1. Obtain a statement from Qantas stating why you were denied boarding.
  2. Produce copies of your travel documents, from your tickets to your reservation and baggage tag.
  3. Produce copies of the receipts for your meals, refreshments, and overnight accommodation (if used) while waiting for the alternative flight.
  4. Contact an AirAdvisor compensation expert to check your flight and submit your claims.

Exceptions: When Qantas Excludes You from Compensation

Sometimes, carriers can deny passengers boarding for reasons beyond their control. Compensation applies to overbooked flights because they have a choice not to oversell their tickets. Other denials due to the carrier’s boarding policy may not qualify the affected passengers for compensation.

Airline Policy

Here are a few reasons why Qantas may be justified in denying boarding involuntarily without compensation:

  • The passenger exhibited unruly behaviour towards the flight crew and other passengers.
  • Qantas used a smaller aircraft with fewer seats for safety or weight concerns.
  • You arrived at the boarding gate late.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why has my compensation from Qantas taken more than seven days?

Qantas acknowledges that processing the denied boarding compensation may take more than seven days. The delay may be due to verification challenges.

Can I get monetary compensation in place of the telephone service when denied boarding?

Qantas will not offer a monetary alternative if the telephone service is available. However, it will reimburse you if it cannot provide the telephone service.

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