image of woman and girl in airport with suitcase

Abusive practices? catch them on the fly

When traveling by plane, we can find some practices by airlines that have been considered abusive by court rulings. In the following report from the Consumer Portal, we explain which are the main ones and how to identify them.

When you pay a price to perform a round trip by plane, agrees the transport, along with your luggage, to an agreed destination, on predetermined dates and times and under conditions that will be included in your contract.

These general contracting conditions they must appear in all the agreements that you establish with the airline and you have the right to be informed of them and receive a copy before contracting the trip.

Within this prior information, you may find conditions that may be abusive. According to General Law for the Defense of Consumers and UsersThese are those that, contrary to good faith, cause a harm to the consumer, an imbalance between the rights and obligations of the parties. For example, if they limit the rights of consumers, limit the contract to the will of the employer, imply a lack of reciprocity between the obligations of the airline and the rights of passengers or are clauses of which you have not previously received information.

On the other hand, at European level The compensation to which passengers who have had problems due to denied boarding, cancellation or delay of a flight are entitled.


What are the main clauses that can be abusive? 

Air travel is one of the areas of consumption in which we can find this type of abusive practices. The most frequent that we can find are the Clauses no showplatforms, Overbooking  or the high costs for printing boarding passes. We will detail each of them:


Clauses no show

This clause consists of the cancellation of a flight route in case of not flying on any of the routes purchased. It can be the cancellation of the return flight if the outbound flight is not used; or, on flights with a stopover, the cancellation of the rest of the connections if one of the sections is not flown.

It is a clause that appears in the air transport contract and that the passenger voluntarily accepts at the time of contracting. This type of clause has jurisprudence against it and can be considered abusive because it imposes disproportionate obstacles to the exercise of the rights recognized by the consumer in the contract.

Passengers who suffer from this situation can make a claim to the airline for denied boarding, but the usual thing is that the affected person has to resort to raising a judicial procedure. It is important that you keep all the documentation of the reservation, as well as the communication of the cancellation by the airline.

El Regulation 261 / 2004 Articles 7, 8 and 9 establish the compensation to which the passenger is entitled for denied boarding, including:

  • Between 250 and 600 euros, depending on the distance of the flight.
  • In the event that passengers are offered the possibility of being taken to the final destination in an alternative transport with a difference in the arrival time with respect to that scheduled for the initial flight, these amounts may be reduced depending on the times Standby.
  • The reimbursement in seven days of the cost paid for the ticket.
  • You can also request the cost of additional food or accommodation that you have had to pay as a result of the denied boarding, unless the company has already provided you with these services free of charge.


This is a practice of some airlines, which sell more tickets than the plane's capacity allows due to the usual forecast of travelers who cancel hours before or do not show up for the flight. There are times when airlines are not correct in their forecasts, and this overbooking, known as Overbooking, settles with the denied boarding to some passengers. This is a legal business practice permitted by the European Union.

In these cases, airlines usually seek friendly agreements with some passengers, offering them benefits for not boarding the plane. However, if they do not reach sufficient agreements, they will deny boarding as many passengers as necessary until the maximum number of passengers is reached.

If this happens to you, know that you are entitled to the same compensation as in the case of no show clauses, since there is also a denial of boarding and therefore you will be able to benefit from the provisions of articles 7, 8 and 9 of the Regulation 261 / 2004

It is important that you keep all documentation, as well as the company's notification of the overbooking.


printing costs

It is a practice that we can find in companies such as low cost, which force you to pay an extra cost for printing boarding passes at the airport.

This practice has been considered abusive when the cost of printing is disproportionate. Some companies have even charged 40 euros for printing the boarding pass, a practice that has been declared abusive by jurisprudence. Therefore, in the event that we consider that we are being charged a disproportionate amount for printing our boarding pass at the airport, we can claim it from the company or later through the courts. 


In any of these cases, in addition, the consumer may claim before the State air safety agency (AESA) or through the General Directorate of Commerce, Consumption and Services Community of Madrid.