Recently, I had a first flight in my life that was overbooked.

What should I expect from European airline if I volunteer to stay and not fly on the overbooked flight?

In my situation it was LOT with partner Nordica. As far as I understand Nordica operated the initial overbooked flight.

  • 1
    "Volunteer" + "What do I expect" makes no sense to me.. Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 19:57
  • @NeanDerThal Could you suggest how to formulate the question better? Airline asked for volunteers that will hop off the flight because it is overbooked. What if I will be this volunteer? Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 19:59
  • 10
    @NeanDerThal Makes sense to me. Airlines have policies/guidelines on what to offer. In the US, I'd expect a minimum of $200 travel credit, and some will go up to $10k credit. However, there is no US or EU regulation on voluntary denied boarding, so it is completely up to the passenger and the airline.
    – user71659
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 20:03
  • Hi, it probably helps if you specify which European airline you are flying with, as the expectation still vary wildly across different parts of Europe.
    – B.Liu
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 20:11
  • 2
    The initial negotiating point is what they owe you if you are bumped (which varies based on the distance flown and how late you would be if bumped). Search for EU261 for details. I would not below 250 euros cash (not a voucher) if you are bumped to another flight on the same day, a lot more if the next day (depending on the cost of hotels in that city).
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 20:55

2 Answers 2


Per directive EU261, airlines are required to ask for volunteers before bumping anyone. If there are no volunteers (or not enough), they owe compensation and assistance to whoever they pick.

Compensation varies based on distance and how long you are delayed at the destination. Assistance means hotel (if overnight wait), meals, drinks, phone calls, etc.

So you can ask at least for the minimum they would have to pay to someone they bump. Probably a bit more because someone bumped involuntarily will not be happy while supposedly you are OK with it.

  • 6
    You're competing against other passengers, so they will choose whichever passenger they can satisfy with the least direct cost (somebody who they can reroute without an overnight stay) and compensation. So if somebody will settle for 400 Eur of travel vouchers, your offer of the full EU261 won't get chosen.
    – user71659
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 23:15
  • 4
    @user71659 and then you get to fly as initially planned. Unless the OP really doesn't care at all about taking the flight right now and prefers to get some money even if delayed, that should still be the best option...
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 23:55
  • @user71659 In practice, my experience is that even LCC offer whatever is owed if you were bumped right off the bat, sometimes announce it when asking for volunteers so jcaron advice is spot on. Compensation under EU rules is not that high and I have never seen passengers underbidding each other.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 7:53
  • That's interesting. I have had an airline try to bump me without first asking for volunteers. After I expressed my doubt in their right to do so, they somehow managed to find somebody else to bump instead.
    – kasperd
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 18:50

If you volunteer, you are accepting whatever the airline offers. Meaning, they could just ask pretty please and if you volunteer, you just get the personal satisfaction of helping out the Gate Agent.

However, airlines tend to open these days with a few hundred Dollars/Pounds/Euros in travel vouchers to entice enough people to volunteer to prevent bumping. If you volunteer for a next day flight, you should also get accommodations if not at your domicile.

From experience, I'd expect 200-300 as a start.

Also, there are many strategies to maximizing the payout. It's a balance between holding out for the maximum compensation and getting on the list before they don't need more volunteers. Knowing when the next flight is really helps. There have been many times when I've volunteered quickly because I know the next flight is maybe 2hrs later.

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