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Should airlines be allowed to overbook on flights (selling more seats than available to account for the likelihood of no-shows)?

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If people don't show, airlines still collect the fare. Once a flight is fully booked the only fares that should be sold are standby fares.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

excellent point Haaa. considering the news recently, no they shouldn't be allowed to do that.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Haaa Nemui. Excellent, excellent idea!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I think the airlines should be able to sell whatever they want as long a full disclosure is given. I would like to see a system in place domestically where you pay one price for a guaranteed sea, a second price that is lower for a re-accommodation seat where you play less knowing that if the airline needs the seat for business purposes (such as the reason Dr. Dao was asked to give up his seat in the first place) you give up the seat but are guaranteed a seat on the next available flight. The number of these re-accommodation seats would be hard limited to avoid airlines relying on these seats to generate profits and the reasons for the why a seat would be allowed to be vacated would be explicitly explained to the airline. As for selling standby tickets, I'm ok with those knowing they are the cheapest available and are sold as an attachment to succeeding flight or day (I.e. you buy ticket for the 15:45 flight but you purchased the standby clause for the 13:30 if it were to become. Or you purchase a ticket to fly on April 20th and you are placed on standby for the day knowing you will fly out on the 20th but have little control over your flight time)

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

There is this science called "statistics." The airlines have years of data concerning most flights and have a very good idea how full a flight will actually be weeks in advance. Overbooking is a way to keep the planes full, pricing cost effective and profits for the airline corporations.

I've worked in teams where we used statistics to predict 'no-shows.' After a few months of paying 40% too much because of the high no-show problem, our non-profit started applying this science to better predict the actual number of people who would attend events. This is very much like what the airlines do. We played our predictions REALLY close after the first few months proved the method worked extremely well. We were over 99% accurate. I bet the airlines are this good too.

However, if someone is bumped, then appropriate compensation should be provided. Cash, hotel, food, AND a spot on the next flight that the bumped person wants. Only the amount of cash should be in question, since each willing seller and willing buyer would come to a different arrangement. I saw that Delta just raised their maximum cash payment to US$10,000, which would get me off a plane without needing police.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I saw that Delta just raised their maximum cash payment to US$10,000, which would get me off a plane without needing police.

Me too. For that matter, I'd get off most flights for a bump up to first-class on an upcoming flight, and a nice hotel room in the meantime.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Presumably a no-show has paid, so they are not loosing any money. Just don't refund any money.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

They still get paid for the flight, plus less people on board from no-shows is a better flight experience for the remaining travelers, and less weight on the plane meaning lower fuel consumption and a smaller carbon footprint. Electricity, personnel and computing costs from sorting through overbooked situations would also be reduced, resulting in lower costs for the company, and a smaller carbon footprint.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Of course they shouldn't. That's not going to stop them from doing it though, is it?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If they don't refund the fares to the "no-shows" then why should they overbook the flight. If they know they have to fly crews back then reserve these seats to begin with.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

you CAN'T sell what you don't have. Period.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If the ticket or tickets were bought,you don't lose money with a no-show.Is just plan and utter greed by the airlines. I'd bought a ticket to go to S.Korea last month, but a sudden shoulder operation scuppered that plan.Was I eligible for a refund? Hell No,but you get my money and still bish and moan about an empty seat? Greedy AF.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

An empty seat is lost revenue. Any corporation that doesn't try to get paid for an empty seat is failing their shareholders.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

theFu Apr. 17 09:54 am JST There is this science called "statistics." The airlines have years of data concerning most flights and have a very good idea how full a flight will actually be weeks in advance. Overbooking is a way to keep the planes full, pricing cost effective and profits for the airline corporations.

There is this science called "computers" which allow the airlines minute-by-minute control of bookings. Most flights everywhere sell out as there are only so many options to any given destination in a day or a week. If a flight is often less than full, then the airlines need to make scheduling adjustments. Overbooking is not done to guarantee against revenue shortfalls because the flight didn't sell out. Most tickets anymore are not fully refundable unless you cancel months in advance. However, most airlines won't take reservations months in advance any longer. Overbooking is the airline hoping for no shows on a popular route so that they can earn additional revenue.

Everyone understands that airlines do no control the weather and sometimes have to unexpectedly move a crew. However, the latter should never be accomplished so that passengers are in any way inconvenienced.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Delta just raised the limit of what they will offer for bumping someone from a flight to $9950. I think that this adds a good check/balance. The airline can still overbook their flights, but if there is an issue, they will pay big to people who volunteer to get bumped. In this way, they are going to be less risky with their overbooking, as the financial penalty for overbooking will cut into their profit margin.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is no problem whatsoever with the concept of overbooking. The ONLY thing that needs to be done is to satisfactorily manage who doesn't get on the plane. With a full flight there will almost always be someone who is happy to give up their seat for the right compensation. If the fools running the United flight has simply added a few hundred dollars to their compensation offer, sooner or later someone would have bitten AND WOULD HAVE BEEN HAPPY TO DO SO. I've done it once and I was thrilled!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ treasureglenn Apr. 17 05:26 pm JST If they don't refund the fares to the "no-shows" then why should they overbook the flight. If they know they have to fly crews back then reserve these seats to begin with.

Please don't think I'm defending the abhorrent behavior of United, but...

If you miss a connecting flight (ie: are a no-show) due to a departure delay, bad weather, etc., the airline fits you onto the next available flight, without charging you again for that next leg. Bad weather may also mean that flight crews miss connections.

As many people have posted above, if airlines are willing to keep upping the cash for seat, eventually, they'll get volunteers. And if it would cost more to get volunteers that it would to charter a car and driver or jet heli, then they could find alternative transport.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

An empty seat is lost revenue. Any corporation that doesn't try to get paid for an empty seat is failing their shareholders.

It depends on the ticket being sold.

Bargain tickets are non-refundable. Use it or lose it.

Higher (normal) priced tickets have some flexibility to change the flight time, and that is probably where the problems with overbooking come in.

Still, if airlines choose to use an overbooking policy to maximize profits, then they must also bear the costs to their customers of using that policy to maximize profits.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

JT won't let me vote, the Yes/No buttons are frozen.

If I was allowed to vote, I think I would vote Yes. Not because the poor widdle airlines might lose a bit of profit otherwise, but because in these days of global warming it's surely not a good idea to have planes flying with empty seats because someone didn't show, when there are people who could have used those seats.

BUT customers who book after the plane is nominally full should be made aware up front that they might not be able to fly. Maybe the overbooked seat could be a bit cheaper than the full price, and passengers would know whether they wanted to take the risk or play safe and choose a different airline.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Voting is locked.

Overbooking is fine. Just be prepared to pay more to get people off.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Selling more than what you already have should be prohibited by the law, this is nothing more than a scam.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The airline can make any contract it wants to, and so can you. Full stop.

But wait a minute. What is the problem here? Here it is. There are at least two kinds of people in the world: people who want secure contracts for a seat and people who have all the time in the world, who care about price, who play games with frequent flier miles, etc. Let's call the former REAL PEOPLE and the latter OPTIMIZERS.... emphasis on the MIZERS.

The problem is that the airlines deal with so many of the optimizers that they think everyone is an optimizer. They are wrong. And real people can't understand why airlines have to be so cheap as to fill every seat!. Well guess what... the airlines are optimizing too.

So forget your statistics and your computers. It is much simpler than that. Let the airlines play their games of doing short sales on seats. And let optimizers buy tickets that give them an option to fly or to be paid some money, and let them play their stupid games and win their stupid prizes.

BUT DON'T HARM THE REAL PEOPLE. Before a plane takes off, if people have to be booted off the plane, offer the optimizers money and keep upping the ask until you get a bid, just as any short seller has to do when caught out. If 30 people bought 100 dollar tickets and you have to bump five of them, then start the bidding at 150 bucks. By the time you get to 300, I bet you have five "volunteers." But don't be shocked and appalled if you have to pay some guy 1000 bucks. If you are short, you have to cover. Alternatively, for these optimizers, each should be forced to enter a SURRENDER PRICE when they buy a ticket. Then the airline can just find the lowest surrender prices and kick those people off. And they have already agreed to it. Such pre-bidding will make everyone happy.

But REAL PEOPLE don't want the shenanigans. They want to pay their money and fly. If they don't show, sell their seats. Fine. But don't play games with them or beat them up.

It is really that simple. I make a lot less money than the CEO of United does, but he cannot figure this out. Apparently only true idiots can operate airlines and earn humongous salaries these days.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That is unprofessional, capitalistic and barbaric. The only question is how the company wants to define itself.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

viking68 Apr. 18 04:20 pm JST An empty seat is lost revenue. Any corporation that doesn't try to get paid for an empty seat is failing their shareholders.

Don't fly much, do you?

I haven't been on a domestic flight in the U.S. in the last five years that was not full. I can guarantee you that if there was an empty seat that it was not unsold but the result of a non-show or last minute cancellation. In either case, the airline has not lost any money. One can hope that this disgusting incident leads to changes, specifically a regulation against over booking and making it illegal to force a passenger off a plane due to a booking error by the airlines. However, the airline lobby is probably too strong to expect these changes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I believe they should be able to, and the recent case with the guy who got pulled off the flight was totally the airlines mistake and they should pay for it.

THe industry as a whole does it ALL the time, BUT other airlines make a point of NEVER asking a seated passenger to remove themselves from the airplane. It is ALL handled prior to boarding.

Airlines arent the only ones who do it either, it very common with hotels as well, and hotels ensure over booked customers have rooms, it's a common business practice that no one should be surprised about either.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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