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View Full Version : Question about Over-booked Flights


tchrrx
03-24-2012, 10:51 AM
On all of my flights this week, the airline had overbooked and asked for volunteers. Last night, a family of 4 was waiting to board. Three people volunteered to take the $600 voucher, meal, and room deal and fly out this morning. The flight attendant then came down the aisle saying that he wasn't sure how it would work, but that someone had to volunteer or they would have to choose someone to get off.

How would they choose? Is it a last ticket purchased, first person off thing? Why do they continue to overbook? It would cost them less money to always keep two to four seat unfilled than to continually give out vouchers.

goofy4tink
03-24-2012, 11:49 AM
I could be wrong, but it may be decided on by the time of checkin. This is one reason I like to be checked in for my flight as early as humanly possible.

sam_gordon
03-24-2012, 12:22 PM
It would cost them less money to always keep two to four seat unfilled than to continually give out vouchers.
That would be kind of hard to say for sure without definitive facts to back it up. I don't think EVERY flight is overbooked. The last couple flights I've been on, they've even taken standby passengers.

DebbieB
03-24-2012, 12:30 PM
Typically they have no shows and misconnects so they overbook so that they don't have empty seats. I've seen cases where they asked for volunteers, people got on the list and then they didn't need them afterall because of no shows, so they boarded.

It's not just overbooking. One time I was on a flight on Continental and we were already boarded and ready to go. The gate agent came on and said they needed 2 volunteers because the pilot determined the plane was overweight. I think what happened is the pilot announced we were going to have to fly around storms and they had to load extra fuel, right after that the gate agent came onboard. This was a 737, not a regional. Anyway, no one volunteered. So the gate agent said the last 2 people who checked in would have to get off and he went back to their seats and escorted them off. That's why I always do online check-in at 24 hours, even on airlines where I have a seat.

jsilvers
03-24-2012, 05:57 PM
How would they choose? Is it a last ticket purchased, first person off thing?

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to have established procedures, but doesn't dictate the content of the procedures. Suggested factors that an airline can use in deciding who is denied boarding are:

(1) A passenger's time of check-in;
(2) Whether a passenger has a seat assignment;
(3) The fare paid by a passenger;
(4) A passenger's frequent-flyer status; and
(5) A passenger's disability or status as an unaccompanied minor.

Why do they continue to overbook? It would cost them less money to always keep two to four seat unfilled than to continually give out vouchers.

Airlines have sophisticated software to predict how many passengers will actually show up for a flight (for example, business travelers with refundable tickets are expected to miss more flights than leisure travelers with nonrefundable tickets). Most airlines calculate that the cost of occasionally issuing vouchers to volunteers - or monetary compensation if there aren't enough volunteers - is less than the cost of flying empty seats. (JetBlue is a notable exception.)

Looking at data collected by DOT for 2011 (which includes most flights within the U.S.), approximately 1 out of every 950 passengers was a volunteer for denied boarding compensation, and 1 out of every 12,350 passengers was denied boarding involuntarily.

mlittig
03-24-2012, 06:54 PM
So if I buy Southwest's Early Bid feature where I check in and they assign my place in the boarding line, I should be safe from getting bumped :confused3

jsilvers
03-24-2012, 07:10 PM
So if I buy Southwest's Early Bid feature where I check in and they assign my place in the boarding line, I should be safe from getting bumped :confused3

According to Southwest's website:

Southwest does not involuntarily deny boarding to any Customer who is holding a boarding pass, regardless of fare purchased, staus in our frequent flyer program, or any other reason.

and

If we do not receive enough volunteers to accommodate all Customers who have purchased travel and have met our checkin time but do not hold a boarding pass, those Customers will be involuntarily denied boarding.

http://www.southwest.com/html/generated/help/faqs/overbooking_faq.html

Note that, on a proportional basis, Southwest involuntarily denies boarding to relatively few passengers - approximately 1 in 15,400, according to DOT data for 2011. For volunteers, the numbers are also well below the industry average - approximately 1 in 1700 passengers.

NancyIL
03-24-2012, 07:20 PM
I keep hoping to get bumped on my flight HOME from Orlando - but my flights are usually overbooked on the way TO Orlando when I don't want to be delayed!