The video of a 69-year-old man being forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight has prompted scrutiny of the practice of overbooking.
There is no law saying airlines can鈥檛 book more people onto their flights than there are seats, and on most flights it鈥檚 not a problem as often passengers don鈥檛 show up.
It鈥檚 worth noting a couple of points before we delve into your rights when flights are overbooked.
* If you鈥檙e flying JetBlue or Ryanair, you shouldn鈥檛 worry. These airlines have a policy of not overbooking, though they do cover it in their conditions of carriage.
* In cases where there are too many people for the number of seats, the airline will deny people boarding BEFORE they have boarded the aircraft. One of the reasons the United footage is so remarkable is that the process reached the cabin of the airplane.
These rules cover any flights you take from an airport in the EU (including the UK for the time being), as well as flights arriving at an EU airport operated by an EU airline.
Airports in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are also counted as EU airports.
If your flight is overbooked, the Denied Boarding Regulation comes into play.
This means the airline must ask people to volunteer not to fly 鈥榠n exchange for benefits鈥?
The benefits package, which you must agree with the airline, might include a voucher for future travel.
If there aren鈥檛 enough volunteers, you can be denied boarding.
Both volunteers and non-volunteers are entitled to a refund or an alternative flight, but those who didn鈥檛 volunteer are entitled to compensation straight away.
If you are forced not to board a flight you have booked on to you are entitled to compensation.
The compensation depends on the length of the flight and the delay between your original flight and the flight you鈥檙e offered a seat on.
* For a short haul flight (less than 1,500km) with less than a two-hour delay, the compensation is 鈧?25 (£107).
* For a long haul flight (more than 3,500km) with more than a four-hour delay, the compensation increases to 鈧?00 (£513).
Both volunteers and non-volunteers can choose between two options when it comes to travel.
* Choose an alternative flight
If you want to fly as soon as possible, the airline must provide you with food, drink, accommodation and telephone calls.
But you can choose to fly at a later date if you鈥檇 like.
* Take the refund
You can get a refund for the return leg too. If you鈥檙e half way through a journey and decide you want a refund, the airline needs to provide a flight back to your starting point.
So in short:
Volunteers: Benefits package + Alternative Flight/Refund
Non-volunteers: Immediate compensation + Alternative Flight/Refund
For more information, visit the Civil Aviation Authority website .
All the above covers flights in and out of the EU, but what if you鈥檙e flying in the US to another non-EU destination?
In these cases it鈥檚 always worth checking the terms and conditions of the airline company.
On some American airlines, the process of denying boarding isn鈥檛 simply a matter of first come, first served.
United Flights say people with disabilities and unaccompanied children should be the last people to be kicked off.
American Airlines will consider 鈥渟evere hardships鈥? as well as the amount the passenger has paid for their ticket.
When making their decision, staff at Delta can take loyalty status into account - so if you鈥檝e flown Delta plenty of times you could be less likely to be refused boarding than a new customer.