A couple of weeks ago, Miss Frugal and I went on a bit of a dream holiday to Los Angeles together and it was honestly an amazing experience that we enjoyed every single minute of. It felt a little bit surreal if I’m honest because every day we saw so many things that we’d seen on TV and read about in books!
Despite the fact we had such a brilliant time, we were both more than ready to come home at the end of the trip though as we ‘d been so busy for the entire week we were there that we were pretty exhausted and all as awful as this sounds we were all ‘wowed’ out.
We’re both quite good fliers and we were actually looking forward to the flight home as we were hoping to have a good sleep on the almost eleven-hour flight and get home feeling refreshed and ready to hit the ground running as we had a busy week planned for the week we got home. 😉
The first sign that this wasn’t going to happen was when we got an error message during online check in on the British Airways website:
Sorry, we cannot complete online check-in for your flight on this occasion. Please proceed to the airport to check in and collect your boarding pass.
I had a quick google and it seemed that this error message can mean anything from a random security check to check your passports and visas to a flight being overbooked.
I chose to believe it was the first option and headed happily to the airport the following day only to be greeted with the news that actually, the flight had been overbooked and we were the lucky ones who had been affected.
After some time stood at the desk while the man checking us in spoke to someone on the phone, we were told that we would be allowed to check our luggage in but that we couldn’t be allocated a seat just yet as there were none to allocate at that moment in time.
The man told us not to panic as it was ‘rare that anyone was left behind’ and that he was confident they would do some ‘re-jigging’of the flight’ and hopefully they’d find us a seat.
He also pointed out that priority in these situations is always given to frequent flyers and regulars which gave us hope as we’ve travelled with British Airways a few times recently and although we don’t have huge amount of Avios points (their loyalty points) I’m presuming that we had more than some people on the flight would have done.
We were given boarding passes with no seat numbers on and told to check at the departure gate when the flight was boarding to see if there was space for us so we had a couple of hours of waiting anxiously ahead of us before we found out whether we’d be going home that day.
We got to the boarding gate and I don’t have a clue what they did but they’d found space for us which was a huge relief and to make things even better, the space they’d found was in the front row of the premium economy cabin meaning we had so much space it was like a little room of our own.
It was brilliant and *almost* made the anxious wait at the airport worth it! We also got a little travel pack with a blanket, pillow, facemask, socks and a toothbrush with the tiniest tube of toothpaste ever. Dinner was a very civilised affair in the premium economy cabin with actual cutlery and plates rather than plastic ones.
The upgrade as amazing and like I say, it almost made the stress of the previous few hours worthwhile – I say almost because it was really stressful at the airport and thought of not getting home that day was awful. I did share on my Instagram stories that we might not get on the flight and so many people messaged me to tell me to make sure I claim some compensation from British Airways if we didn’t make it on.
I was a bit shocked to find out that it’s not just British Airways who do the whole flight overbooking thing. It’s apparently common practice to do this in the airline industry due to the number of no-shows that they usually get for every flight.
What to do if your flight is overbooked
- Don’t panic! It won’t help and from my experience with British Airways, the airline is always going to do everything they can do to get you home that day.
- Don’t blame the airline staff. Overbooking is standard in the airline industry and rarely causes an issue.
- Consider whether you really need to get home that day because the airline should ask for volunteers to move to a different flight in exchange for some form of benefit – usually cash or an upgrade. It might be worth your while volunteering.
- Be aware of your rights and know that if you are bumped off your flight due to overbooking then you can almost certainly claim compensation. I don’t think it’s a complicated process and you could get back a fair amount which will definitely make the situation a little more palatable. If the worst had happened and we hadn’t managed to get on the flight we would have definitely been looking at claiming compensation from British Airways for the overbooking!
For us, it turned out OK, better than OK to be fair thanks to the upgrade British Airways gave us but I know for lots of others it doesn’t work out this way so I thought I’d share our story.
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