Denied boarding? Everything you need to know

Nobody wants to find out their flight is delayed or worse, they’ve been ‘kicked off’ of the plane they’re booked on. This is called Denied Boarding and happens when a flight is oversold and the number of passengers exceeds the number of seats on a flight.

There are two kinds of denied boarding: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary boarding occurs when a customer willingly surrenders their confirmed seat, whereas involuntary boarding takes place if there are not enough volunteers. Customers who have confirmed tickets may be denied access to the flight depending on important factors recognised by the airline.

You may find yourself confused the first time you book a flight and are denied boarding involuntarily. Questions like what to do, when will you get your next flight and whether you need to pay for your new flight might pop up.
Here are some important facts to keep in mind:
  1. You will be compensated. It is not your fault if a flight gets overbooked, therefore the airline will ensure that you get on the next available flight. See this as them trying to fix their mistake. SA Express provides a denied boarding voucher, a confirmed booking on the next available flight as well as refreshments where applicable.
  2. It is not compulsory to volunteer when asked. It will depend entirely on your schedule. If your schedule is more flexible, you will be encouraged to do so. However, you may be selected for an involuntary boarding.
  3. If you are selected for an involuntary boarding and you are unhappy, you may choose to either re-route or request a refund of the price of the ticket. Check first if this is allowed by your airline.
  4. You will receive a meal voucher for involuntary denied boarding delays that exceed 2 hours on domestic flights and 4 hours on Regional or International flights.
  5. There are terms and conditions to being denied boarding and they are:
•    If SA Express is able to place you on another flight within the next hour, you will not be compensated.
•    If you were not on time when our airline’s ticket and check-in requirements took place, you may also not be compensated.

At SA Express, we ensure we issue flexi-flyer vouchers to people affected by denied boarding. It is important to note that there are terms and conditions attached. You may obtain this voucher at any SAA or SA Express counter. For more information, please email