You could claim almost £8,000 if you get bumped off a flight – where's why and how

For some travellers, it can actually be incredibly lucrative as airlines can sometimes give huge amounts of money in compensation.

In the US in particular, airlines sometimes offer passengers huge cash or travel voucher incentives when they have to deny a passenger boarding due to an overbooked flight.

While the rewards aren't as high in the UK and Europe, passengers are still entitled to compensation in many cases.

But why does it happen and how can you get compensation?

Here's what you need to know:

Why do people get bumped from flights?

Airlines tend to overbook flights as not all passengers show up on the day.

While in some cases there may be free spaces in premium cabins for upgrades, sometimes a flight might be so completely overbooked that passengers need to be bumped from their flights.

Generally airlines will ask for volunteers, but if no one comes forward, each airline will also have its own policies for bumping.

Who gets bumped first?

As stated before, policy varies from airline to airline.

However, generally passengers who are travelling alone, travelling without luggage, paid the lowest fare or was the last to board or check in will be the first to be picked.

What you get in compensation will vary depending on whether you volunteer to be bumped or are forced to be bumped.

What compensation can you get in the UK?

Under EU law, passengers who get bumped from a flight departing from an EU airport and operated by any airline, or arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline, will have certain rights.

As long as you're checked in on time, you can claim compensation.

For short haul flights of less than 1,500km, you can claim €125 if your delay is less than two hours or €250 if your delay is longer.

For medium haul flights between 1,500km to 3,000km, you can claim €200 if your delay is less than three hours or €400 if your delay is longer.

For long haul flights of over 3,500km, you can claim €300 if your delay is less than four hours or €600 if your delay is longer.

If you volunteer to be bumped, your compensation will be up to you and the airline to negotiate.

Compensation if you're in the US

Many flights sold by British airlines to the US are now operated under codeshare with US partners.

There are different rules if you're flying in the US and whether you get compensation will depend on whether you're denied boarding because the airline has overbooked the flight.

When you're bumped because of, for example, an aircraft change, weight and balance issues (in small planes) or if you're flying to the US, you won't be entitled to compensation – the US Department of Transportation has a full list of reasons on its website.

However, if you have a confirmed reservation, you've checked into your flight on time, you arrived at the departure gate on time, and the airline cannot get you to your destination within one hour of your flight’s original arrival time, you would be entitled to compensation.

For domestic flights in the US, you're legally eligible for up to 200 per cent of your one-way fare, up to $675 (£530.74), if you're delayed one to two hours.

If you're delayed for more than two hours, you're entitled to up to 400 per cent of your one-way fare, but no more than $1,350 (£1,061.47).

On international flights departing from the US, you can get up to $675 (£530.74) if you're delayed between one to four hours because of the bump and up to $1,350 (£1,061.47) if your delay is over four hours.

US airlines can be more generous with their compensation

For some travellers, getting bumped off flights can be extremely rewarding.

One passenger was reportedly given a $10,000 (£7862.75) flight voucher by United after she was bumped.

While Delta is said to have a discretionary budget of up to $9,950 (£7823.43) for each bumped passenger.

This is following an incident where a passenger was forceably removed from a United Airlines flight, sparking a PR disaster.

Other things to ask for if you're bumped

Within the EU, if you're bumped from a flight, you must also be offered an alternative flight.

The airline must also provide things such as food, drinks, communication options and accommodation depending on your delay.

And if you don't want to fly, you're also entitled to a refund.

Just this week, Sun Online Travel revealed how a passenger was left mortified after she was kicked off an overbooked flight.

Charlotte Barton was travelling alone and without luggage when cabin crew picked her to be bumped from the flight.

The airline was said to have offered 400 euros to anyone who voluntarily de-boarded the flight.

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