What would it take to get you to leave an overbooked flight?

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EasyJet

An EasyJet flight from Gatwick to Bari in Italy was left on the tarmac for 50 minutes, when the airline realised it was overbooked, and tried to persuade passengers to leave.

In the end the offer proved tempting enough for four passengers to leave, but what would it take to make you go?


According to the Daily Mail, after the passengers were already seated, the pilot spoke to them over the intercom and admitted that the airline was over its weight limit, so four people would have to leave the flight. He said that unless they could secure four volunteers, the last four people to check in would be made to leave.

He initially offered passengers a replacement flight and an overnight stay near the airport while they waited for the next flight. He also said the passengers would be paid 250 Euros for their trouble.

However, no-one moved.

Fortunately, the pilot realised he had made a mistake, and confirmed that bumped passengers were entitled to 400 Euros. It was then that four people stepped up and were cheered by their fellow passengers as they left the flight.

According to Travel Weekly, the airline made it clear that it hadn't been haggling with the passengers, but had accidentally given out the wrong information in the first instance. The airline confirmed that the volunteers were paid according to EU regulations.

It said in a statement: "Volunteers are paid according to EU regulations which is based on the distance of the flight. Unfortunately the pilot was given incorrect information initially and so later corrected the amount the passengers were entitled to. No bartering took place."

Will you be bumped?

If you fly regularly, there's a chance you will find yourself in this position. Which? did an investigation last month and found that nine of the 14 airlines it investigated regularly overbooked flights and had to persuade volunteers to wait for another flight.

EasyJet told the organisation that it overbooks around 1% of its flights and around 5% of passengers don't show up, so it doesn't often have to ask for volunteers to leave.

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What are your rights?

However, if you are in a similar position, then the compensation paid for bumping you to another flight will depend on the policies of the airline. Some will offer extra benefits such as vouchers or money, and where it is available they may also offer an upgrade. Transatlantic carriers are more likely to persuade people to move with the promise of an upgrade and spending their time waiting in the business lounge.

However, all offer at least the legal minimum - set out by the EU - of a replacement flight and assistance during their wait - which may include meals, two free phone calls or emails, and in some cases an overnight stay.

The EU also stipulates that anyone flying less than 1,500km should be paid €250, for all longer flights within the EU, and all flights outside the EU between 1,500 and 3,500km, the payment is €400, and for all longer flights it is €600.

If the replacement flight arrives within two hours of the original arrival time (for short haul flights), three hours (for medium haul) or four hours (for long haul), these figures are halved.

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Would you?

If you have flexibility in your timing and you're happy to change flights, then this could prove a useful bonus. The extra cash could get you back for another holiday later in the year - which may be a small price to pay for a minor inconvenience.

However, if you are tied to specific dates, and any delay would cause immense stress, then this could be a massive inconvenience, so it's worth checking which airlines are most likely to bump you from a flight.

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