Overbooking problems in Spain

According to statistics, a considerable percentage of passengers who makes reservations for a particular flight neither cancel their reservations nor show up for their confirmed flights. Flights depart with empty seats, as a result. This involves pecuniary damage for the airlines.

In order to avoid this, airline companies overbook their scheduled flights to a certain extent: these offer extra reservations and accept them even when they have taken enough to fill a particular flight because, historically, that has been the number of previously confirmed passengers, who, without notice, did not show up for the flight.

On some specific dates (summer holidays, Christmas;) most passengers show up for their reservations and are sometimes left behind as a result. You may be denied boarding or “being bumped” even when you have confirmed your reservation and met the check in deadline.

In these cases the Spanish or European airline company, according with the scheme established by the European Union to compensate passengers who had been denied boarding due to overbooking of seats by airlines, is obliged to the following:

  • Allow the passenger to choose between:
    • Reimbursement of the cost of the flight ticket, without penalization.
    • Being re-routed to their final destination at the earliest opportunity.
    • Being re-routed at a later date at the passengers’ convenience.
  • In addition, the airline must pay the passenger the following compensation:
    • € 150 for flights up to 3,500 km
    • € 300 for flights of more than 3,500 km, depending on the final destination.

    Compensations may be cut up to 50% if passengers are re-routed with an alternate flight scheduled to arrive at their destination within one hour of their originally scheduled flight, or within 2 hours in the case of flights of up to 3,500 km or within 4 hours for flights of more than 3,500 km.

    Compensations may be limited to the price of the ticket corresponding to the final destination.

  • The passenger denied boarding must be gratuitously offered:
    • Free telephone call and / or a fax to the destination.
    • Meals in relation to the time that the passenger shall wait to the alternate flight departure.
    • Accommodation in a hotel when necessary.
  • Pay for the costs of displacement from an airport to another, in case the passenger has been offered a different arrival airport than the originally chosen.
  • Provide the passengers denied boarding with the form indicating the compensation rules in case of boarding denial by the airlines.

Apart from these compensations, passengers are entitled to claim for compensations before the Spanish courts.

Our lawyers provide solid legal advice on travel law and overbooking issues in Spain:

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