What is an Overbooked Flight? There is a weird policy in the aviation industry with regard to overbooked flights, and airline companies don’t hesitate to practice this business approach. There are quite a lot of travelers who have experienced being denied boarding or bumped off and forced to board another flight for no apparent reason other than simply because their flight is “overbooked”.
In this blog, we are going to take a detailed look at what is meant by flight overbooking and how it affects travellers.
What is Flight Overbooking?
When an airline company sells more tickets that exceed the capacity of seats available in that particular aircraft, this is referred to as an “overbooked flight” or oversold flight in air travel.
An overbooked flight can affect travelers in a lot of ways. For instance, a passenger with a reservation may be denied boarding, or worse, bumped off, even if he/she shows up. Thus, travelers do not feel comfortable when airline carriers based in any country practice overbooking flights with vague assumptions. Some travelers may even seek compensation for their flight tickets, upgrades, premium services purchased, etc. For this, both the United States and Europe have laws ascertaining passengers’ rights to cope with such situations.
What are the Reasons for Flights being Overbooked?
It has become common nowadays, where one or more airline carriers oversell flight tickets to customers, mainly to compensate their loss in the event a passenger fails to show up during the boarding process or misses his/her flight.
Here, it is important to note that airline carriers can deny passengers boarding their flights, which can often be voluntary or involuntary.
For example, the airline carrier you are traveling with may ask you to voluntarily give up your seat. They may also offer compensation to you, which can be in the form of benefits, such as upgrades, points, or travel vouchers. There is likely any chance of getting compensation in cash if you voluntarily give up your seat and get off the plane.
On the other hand, the airline carrier you are travelling may involuntarily deny boarding because all the seats are booked and the airliner needs to get some passengers off their plane.
If this happens to you, the aviation regulations permits you to take legal actions against the airliner and seek compensation. The United States, Europe and other nations have issued certain laws and travel policies that you can read on their websites.
Who is Affected the Most when a Flight is Overbooked?
Generally speaking, passengers that are likely to be most affected when their flights are overbooked are those that travel in economy and premium economy class of cabins.
But, this does not mean passengers traveling in Business and First Class are not affected at all. In fact, they may also be affected, however, the degree of unlikelihood is seen largely on Economy and Premium Economy class passengers.
In addition, travelers that purchase elite status memberships are not denied boarding or bumped. Such passengers are guaranteed to travel even if the flight’s tickets have been oversold.
How You Can Avoid an Overbooked Flight
There are a couple of suggestions which you can consider in order to avoid getting your boarding denied or bumped off from the plane.
1. Choose a Direct Flight Over a Connecting Flight
So, choosing a direct flight over a connecting flight can put you at an advantage and also guarantee your seat when your flight is overbooked and the airline denies boarding to passengers.
2. Make Reservations in Business or First Class
You will often notice that airlines do not generally deny boarding or bump passengers travelling in either Business or First Class, when the flight is overbooked.
Thus, you have a greater advantage here. When booking a flight reservation for your travel, it is a good idea to purchase a Business or First Class seat by paying a little extra money and guarantee your trip on an oversold flight. Also, as mentioned above, if you purchase elite status membership with the airline you are traveling to, you will feel more secure.
3. Select your Seat in Advance
When a flight is overbooked, the airline may take the advantage of bumping passengers that have booked the flight without seat assignments than those with assigned seats. Also, at the time of booking a flight reservation, if your airline cannot or does not assign you a seat, it may be a clear indication that your chances of getting bumped or denied boarding may likely increase.
Therefore, it is a good idea to always pre-select your seat in advance when booking a flight reservation, even though it may cost you little extra bucks. But, it may be worth the decision.
4. Benefit from Joining the Airline’s Frequent Flyer Program
Many airline companies offer a loyalty program to their customers, which is commonly known as a “frequent flyer program”. Applying for the program may cost you some subscription fee, but they will also put you in an elite status category. There are many benefits to joining an airline’s frequent flyer program.
One such benefit can include the assurance for securing your seat on the flight, even if the tickets are oversold. Since you have become a loyal customer to the airline through their program, they will not be able to deny you boarding the plane or bumping you off the plane.
5. Always Check-in Early
One of the most important tips to avoid overbooked flight situations, it is a good idea to arrive at the airport as early as possible before check in.
Airlines can often deny boarding to passengers based on the check-in time. So, if you arrive late at the airport, then your chances of getting bumped may likely be more. Thus, you can minimize this and try to be at the airport to catch your flight much earlier.
6. Never Fly on Airlines that Regularly Overbook Flights
Last, but not the least, always bear in mind to never book a reservation with an airline that you think has a habit of routinely overbooking their flights.
This is true. There may be some airline carriers that regularly overbook flights, especially during peak travel times. Thus, it’s always best to avoid flying on such flights and only book your reservation, possibly during off-peak.
Conclusion – What is an Overbooked Flight?
It is understandable that overbooked flights can be a serious nuisance to a lot of travellers. But, there are also ways that are mentioned above, that can help you make wise decisions when planning your trip to your destination city.
If you are okay to travel on non-holidays and non-busy travel days or seasons, and especially if the airline is inclined to oversell their flight tickets, you may secure yourself a seat and your trip.