Consumer / Denied Boarding

Denied Boarding

You may one day find yourself being denied boarding on your flight – perhaps because the flight is overbooked or due to other operational issues. This can seriously affect your travel plans. An airline can only deny your boarding if:

  • you volunteer to give up your ticket; or
  • there aren’t enough volunteers to meet the airline’s circumstances.

Only if there are no volunteers to give up their ticket, can an airline deny you from boarding against your preference.

Regardless of whether you’ve volunteered or been involuntarily denied boarding, the airline should immediately offer you compensation. The type or amount of compensation depends on your situation, but should include:

  • meals, phone calls and internet access;
  • accommodation and transport (where reasonable); and
  • the choice between a full refund or a replacement flight.

The Consumer Protection Code’s First Schedule contains further details on the compensation you are entitled to.

Illustration – Denied boarding due to overbooking by the airline

Ali, having valid travel documents arrived at the airport 3 hours before the scheduled time of departure of his flight. However, he was denied boarding due to overbooking by the airline. Is he entitled to any compensation?

  • Overbooking is a situation where the airline has sold more tickets than the number of seats available for a particular flight. This is an industry norm practiced by most airlines around the world to avoid seat wastage and revenue leakage. When an overbooking situation occurs, the airline will usually call for volunteers to surrender their seats in exchange for benefits. If there are insufficient number of volunteers, the airline will have to deny the boarding of passengers and offer the compensation or care in accordance to the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC).
  • In this case, the airline has to offer Ali the following:
    i. Meals, limited telephone calls and internet access (where available)
    ii. Hotel accommodation (where an overnight stay becomes necessary)
    iii. Transport between the airport and the hotel (where necessary);
    and a choice between:
  1. Refund of the full cost of the unused flight ticket within 30 days; or
  2. Re-routing at the earliest opportunity.

For more information, please refer to the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC) – Part III, Paragraph 11: Air Passenger’s Rights – Denied Boarding.
You may also refer to our short animated video below on this topic:

Illustration – Denied boarding due to incomplete travel documentation

Ali is a Malaysian citizen with a confirmed reservation from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne. At the check-in counter, he was denied boarding due to his expired visa and passport that has less than 6 months validity.

  • It is the responsibility of the consumer to ensure that they have valid and complete travel documents before their travel.
  • In this case, Ali failed to produce the necessary travel documents for his travel and the airline had to deny his travel. Ali will not be entitled to any compensation under the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC)