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Yes, you can receive compensation from an airline if you are involuntarily denied boarding

Sometimes referred to as being “bumped,” involuntary denied boarding occurs when an airline makes a passenger give up their seat.

Airlines are trying to get back on track after weeks of delays and cancellations caused by poor weather conditions and crew members testing positive for COVID-19 or isolating after potential exposure.

VERIFY previously explained what refunds passengers are entitled to when flights are canceled. But a recent TikTok video with more than 35 million views claims you can get a check for up to four times the amount of your flight if you’re denied boarding by the airline.

THE QUESTION

Can you receive compensation from an airline if you are involuntarily denied boarding?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, you can receive compensation from an airline if you are involuntarily denied boarding. However, being bumped from a flight in this way is rare.

WHAT WE FOUND

Involuntary denied boarding occurs when an airline makes a passenger give up their seat. It does not apply to things like weather delays, cancellations or passengers missing their flights.

The TikTok video explains that airlines sometimes sell more tickets than there are seats on a plane. When everyone shows up in these instances, someone must get bumped. Airlines can also involuntarily deny boarding to passengers if an air marshal requires a seat or if there’s a problem with the plane and they swap it out with a smaller aircraft.

Regardless of the reason, the Department of Transportation says involuntary denied boarding is legal as long as the airlines follow the law of what to do if they run out of seats, which is what the TikTok video focuses on.

Airlines say on their websites that they will first ask for volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for a voucher or other compensation.

If there are no takers, then the airline can involuntarily deny boarding to passengers and must pay the passenger. The amount of money paid out to the passenger is dependent on how long it takes the airline to find them a new flight, but it can be as much as four times the fare the passenger originally paid.

But it’s rare that passengers are involuntarily denied boarding.

Data from the Department of Transportation shows of the nearly 445 million passengers that took to the skies on major U.S. airlines between January 2021 and September 2021, only about 6,500 were involuntarily denied boarding. 

More from VERIFY: Yes, airlines can cancel flight reservations months or weeks in advance of departure

   

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