Four British women have been refused boarding onto a Flybe flight from Amsterdam to Birmingham and had to spend the night sleeping in the airport. The university students, aged 19 – 21, had been attending a festival in the Dutch capital.

According to The Independent, all four women were refused boarding when Flybe’s third-party service agents believed they were being threatened by the aggressive behaviour and language used against them. A video of the incident posted on social media has since gone viral.

It is believed the students, who were at the front of the queue to board the delayed flight, were asked to move aside as their seat row hadn’t been called yet. This is common practise across airlines to ensure everyone is boarded in an orderly fashion. After spending the night, vulnerable, in the airport the women decided to come home via the Eurostar.

Though Flybe is investigating the incident, the airline is apparently standing by its decision.

Despite the assumption that the students would have been left out of pocket after having to book an alternative route home, it is highly unlikely they will be able to recuperate any costs. Travel insurance doesn’t cover any costs relating to passengers being refused boarding, especially if they are seen, by the airline, to be at fault.

As well as aggressive or disruptive behaviour, airlines also reserve the right to refuse passengers boarding rights for the following reasons, the majority of which will not be covered by travel insurance:

  1. There are a number of medical related reasons for why an airline may not let a passenger board; if the passenger appears to be in ill-health, particularly if the condition can spread to others, if the passenger is heavily pregnant and does not have a fit to fly certificate confirming their due date abides with the airlines terms and conditions (usually pregnant passengers aren’t allowed to fly beyond 32 weeks), and if the passenger has a broken limb and is unable to show a fit to fly certificate (it is recommended passengers wait 72 hours after the plaster cast has been fitted before flying).
  2. Being intoxicated can lead to refused boarding if the airline deems the passenger a risk to safety of the aircraft, staff and/or other passengers.
  3. Having the wrong travel documents, including; expired passports, incorrect tickets and incorrect or no visa.
  4. It is common practise for airlines to overbook a flight to account for ‘no shows’ but occasionally everyone turns up and some people are bumped from the flight. This is the only instance where passengers are entitled to compensation from their airlines and, depending on the length of delay and their policy, their travel insurance.