Can an airline kick you off a flight that's full?


We can verify United is within its rights to kick you off a flight. 


Douglas Kidd, National Association of Airline Passengers

RELATED STORY: Man physically pulled off of United plane after it was overbooked


It's part of the rights you sign away every time you buy a ticket. It’s called the Contract of Carriage and it is 46 pages long.

United can keep you from boarding if it is oversold and it does not have to compensate you. It’s a practice called involuntary bumping.

It is important to note here, the contract says nothing of removing passengers after they have boarded the plane.

Douglas Kidd is a passenger advocate. He reviewed United’s policies for us.

"They were in their legal right. But do they have the moral right to do that? That’s another question," said Kidd. 

How common is this?

It seemed everybody in our newsroom Monday has an oversold flight horror story.

Well, actually, the number of passengers denied boarding has gone down. That’s according to this report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A report just released Monday says only four of every 100,000 United passengers are involuntarily denied boarding.

"So it can happen to anyone at anytime for any reason," said Kidd. "And it’s one of those things that can happen if you fly often enough." 

You waive a lot of rights when you buy the ticket. It does happen, but airline experts say just not to this extreme.