Denied boarding happens when there are fewer seats available on a flight than there are passengers who have checked in and arrived at the gate on time for boarding and are in possession of valid travel documentation.
Bumping does not include situations where a passenger must be refused transport for reasons such as not having a valid passport or arriving late at the gate.
Before bumping a passenger for a reason that is within their control, airlines must first seek volunteers.
If you volunteer to move to a later flight the airline must provide you with a written confirmation of the benefits that you accepted.
If they are unable to find a volunteer the airline must:
- follow a priority boarding list if a passenger must be bumped involuntarily. For example, persons with disabilities, families travelling together and unaccompanied minors would be considered last for bumping; and
- not remove passengers already on board, except for safety, security or health reasons.
If you are denied boarding (bumped) involuntarily and the reason is within the airline's control but not safety-related, you are entitled to a specific standard of treatment, compensation, and rebooking or a refund.
If you are bumped involuntarily and the reason is within the airline's control and required for safety purposes, you are entitled to a specific standard of treatment and rebooking or a refund.
If you are bumped involuntarily and the reason is outside of the airline's control, you are entitled to rebooking.
Reasons within an airline's control include:
- overbooking by the airline; or
- changes in plane size for commercial reasons or due to scheduled maintenance.
- Standards of treatment for denied boarding
- Compensation for denied boarding
- Rebooking and refunds for denied boarding
Denied Boarding: A Guide explains what denied boarding is, and what passenger rights and airline obligations apply in the event a passenger is denied boarding. These apply to flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights. This guide also explains how airlines' obligations differ depending on whether they deny boarding for reasons within their control or outside their control.
Types and Categories of Flight Disruption: A Guide explains the three categories of flight disruption included in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations: situations within the airline's control; situations within the airline's control but required for safety; and situations outside the airline's control.
Airline obligations for denied boarding (bumping) are set out in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations.