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Virgin Atlantic Overbooking: Getting Compensation When Denied Boarding Involuntarily

Virgin Atlantic Overbooking: Getting Compensation When Denied Boarding Involuntarily
Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
Last Updated: July 09, 2024

Are you thinking of suing Virgin Atlantic for bumping you off your fully paid flight? There is no need for that, as the carrier may owe you up to £520 as compensation if overbooking occurred. Our compensation experts at AirAdvisor can help you check the flight to verify your due compensation.

Virgin Atlantic admits to occasionally overselling its flights. However, it has the Virgin Select scheme to prevent involuntary passenger bumping on an overbooked flight.

We don’t expect involuntary denied boarding to occur often on Virgin Atlantic, given its 2023 77% load factor. Nonetheless, we are prepared to guide you through the compensation process if you have an unfortunate bumped flight experience with the carrier. This guide will explain your rights and, most importantly, show you how to handle such situations without escalation.

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

What is Overbooking and Why Virgin Atlantic Does It

Virgin Atlantic served 5.3 million passengers with a 77% load factor in 2023. Other top UK airlines have higher values, but Virgin Atlantic has avoided any involuntary denied boarding PR disasters. That is why we don’t see passengers getting bumped often on flights.

Like most carriers, Virgin Atlantic may oversell its in-demand flights. The practice involves selling tickets to more passengers than the assigned aircraft can carry. For the most part, passengers are unaware that their flight is oversold.

We understand the need for airlines to maximise revenue as some passengers may not show up for the flight. However, overbooking may leave some passengers without a seat, forcing the carrier to bump them. Our interest is in ensuring that affected passengers receive overbooked flight compensation and adequate care.

There is no need to worry if you have just been bumped from your flight. Virgin Atlantic knows its obligations if it bumps passengers from an outbound EU/UK or US flight caused by overbooking.

We’ve assisted over 260,000 customers with their compensation claims through our legal expertise. While we do not wish for anyone to get bumped, you don’t need to get worked up over it. You’ll receive your compensation whether you are at the airport or not.

virgin atlantic branded plane

Regulations and Passenger Rights When Denied Boarding

Carriers can only bump passengers with confirmed reservations when they can’t find seats for them. Regulations for involuntary boarding apply once that happens. That includes monetary compensation, alternative flights (transport), and care or assistance.

Virgin Atlantic still has to fly you to your destination as soon as possible. We can’t say how quickly that will be, but it can take a few hours or more, depending on how quickly the carrier finds an alternative flight.

Those who volunteer their seats will get a different package. Most times, carriers are open to negotiations with the volunteers. So, feel free to give up your seat for incentives if you are not on a strict schedule.

You can refer to Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 for more information when flying out of an EU or UK airport. In the US, regulations for denied boarding are under the US Department of Transportation.

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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.

With that in mind, here’s what you should expect when denied boarding involuntarily:

Involuntary Denied Boarding

Once the airline doesn’t get enough volunteers, the next step will be to bump the excess passengers. So, if a boarding agent stops you from boarding a flight against your will, you’ve been denied boarding. The typical way is to ask you and other affected passengers to wait.

Your next step after getting bumped should be to find out why. Virgin Atlantic may provide you with your passenger rights after denying you boarding. This statement will contain your entitlements and why you were denied boarding.

If you choose to give up your seat, your compensation will now fall under the voluntary denied boarding category. So, the primary difference between involuntary and voluntary denied boarding is that the former happens against your will while the latter is your choice.

The compensation in this guide only applies to overbooking, but we can still help with refunds for cancelled or delayed flights.

Your eligibility for compensation depends on the following:

  • You have a confirmed reservation with Virgin Atlantic
  • You presented yourself for check-in at least 60 minutes before departure

Travelling for free or for a reduced fair not directly or indirectly available to the public may exclude you from the compensation. You can check with our AirAdvisor experts to see if you are eligible.

So, if you are bumped because the flight was overbooked, your passenger rights include the following:

  • Cash compensation according to EU/UK or US regulation
  • An alternative flight under comparable conditions at the earliest opportunity.
  • You can defer your alternative flight to another date.

Deferring the alternative flight means you will be responsible for meals, accommodation, transport costs, etc. Notwithstanding, you won’t need to pay anything extra for the flight.

people in the airport going on boarding

Voluntary Denied Boarding

This happens when you willingly give up your seat on an overbooked flight. It shows that you are willing to reschedule your flight and accept the benefits that come with volunteering. These may include discounts or travel vouchers.

The Virgin Select scheme allows volunteers to give up their seats before going to the airport. You can obtain more details from the Virgin Atlantic ground staff at the airport.

Your rights under the Virgin Select scheme include the following:

  • The right to receive a refund of your unused ticket
  • The right to defer your flight for a discount
  • The right to meals, refreshments, and overnight accommodation, depending on how long you wait for the next flight

The process may differ when travelling from the US. So, we recommend checking with Virgin Atlantic ground staff. Also, check the terms and conditions in the Virgin Select Scheme to see if the discounted or complementary flights have any limitations. For example, find out if you can use them during the holidays or for international trips.

Your Other Rights When Bumped

We can’t say how long you will wait for an alternative flight after getting bumped. However, Virgin Atlantic should provide care and assistance until you are onboard. This care package includes the following:

  • Meals and refreshments
  • Two short telephone calls, telex, fax, or email
  • Hotel accommodation and transport to and from the hotel

The ground staff should inform you of this package immediately if you get bumped. Otherwise, you can approach the help desk to log a complaint.

We are aware some passengers may have unknowingly catered for themselves while waiting for alternative flights. You can still contact us if you are in this category. Virgin Atlantic may owe you a reimbursement of your expenses, from meals to accommodation.

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Virgin Atlantic Overbooking: How Much You Should Receive

The table below shows how much you should expect as compensation when bumped on an outbound EU/UK flight:

Delay time


The new arrival time is within four hours of your original schedule


The new arrival time is more than four hours of your original schedule


If you are travelling from the US, then the following compensation applies:

Delay time from alternative flight


Within one hour

No compensation

Between one hour and four hours

200% of one-way fare up to $775

Over four hours

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

What to Do if Virgin Atlantic Bumps You Involuntarily

Follow the steps below:

  1. Check your flight for overbooking with AirAdvisor.
  2. Produce copies of your flight ticket, baggage tag, booking reservation, etc.
  3. Make copies of all expenses related to meals, telephone calls, and accommodation while you wait for the alternative flight.
  4. Contact an AirAdvisor compensation expert to check your compensation claims.
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Exceptions: When Virgin Atlantic Does Not Need to Pay Compensation

The carrier can bump passengers in specific situations without compensating them. Hence, we recommend acquainting yourself with Virgin Atlantic’s boarding policies. Also, remember to go to the airport and check in early.

Situations Where You Won’t Get Compensation

The following scenarios can get passengers bumped without compensation:

  • Virgin Atlantic cancelled the flight.
  • If you pose a health risk to others, you may be denied boarding without compensation.
  • You were denied boarding for security or safety reasons.
  • Virgin Atlantic opted for a smaller aircraft and could not accommodate you because of weight or safety restrictions.
  • The aircraft has 60 seats or less, and you were bumped because of weight/balance restrictions.

Expert Tips

  • Obtain confirmation immediately from the Virgin Atlantic staff that you were bumped for overbooking.
  • Get a statement of your rights from the airline support staff.
  • Inquire about any provisions for meals and refreshments after waiting for an hour.
  • Collect receipts for any purchases you make for meals, refreshments, and accommodation as you wait for your alternative flight.
  • Contact AirAdvisor immediately before filing your compensation claims.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get free or discounted transportation instead of cash payment for denied boarding?

You can get free or discounted transportation. However, the option must come from Virgin Atlantic. Other restrictions will be well stated in the alternative.

When should I expect Virgin Atlantic to pay my compensation?

The carrier should provide the compensation immediately while you are still at the airport. If, for any reason, you are no longer available to receive the cash payment, Virgin Atlantic will send a check by mail.

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