Why Airlines Overbook Flights & How to Avoid Being Bumped

Why do airlines overbook flights & How not to get bumped into them?

Jul 18, 2019

The airlines these days are having a great deal with the fact of overbooking the flights. The concept of flight overbooking has reached its peak and the horrible scene took place at the Chicago O’ Hare airport.

The crowd stood up shouting and the act of violence took place. The overbooked flight scenarios are increasing day by day and sometimes the passengers are event forced to move out, like in that of the Chicago O’ Hare airport. The oversold flights sometimes also become a victim of the flight delays.

Recently, a passenger at the Chicago O’ Hare airport took to the act of violence and shouting due to an overbooked flight. A doctor was a passenger of the United Airlines flight had to be removed off the overbooked flight since he refused to give up on his seat. The video of the incident was posted on YouTube and immediately went viral.

The video was not only distressing but actually a reminder about the passenger rights and how some misuse it. Bumping in case of airline overbooking is common. You just need to be prepared for it. However, there are certain ways through which you can get over the bumping passengers.

Airlines Overbooking: Why do airlines overbook flight?

Before understanding how to get over the overbooked flights, you need to understand “why do airlines overbook flights?” Most of the airlines oversell the flight tickets. The tickets sold are usually more than the seats on the flight.

Usually, overselling of the tickets are done to determine the situation that wouldn’t happen if passengers don’t show up within the arrival time on the journey day. However, overselling the tickets isn’t an illegal practice as per certain governmental laws.

Most of the travel experts have stated that around 150 tickets are sold for available 100 seats. Apart from United Airlines, British Airlines admitting to overselling about 50,000 tickets each year. They also stated that this often results in involuntary bumps.

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to flying with 30 travelers or more and beginning in the United States to search out volunteers before bumping anybody.

What happens if you’re on an overbooked flight?

airport area
Usually, there are chances that you get to fly with empty seats. However, there are scenarios too when no empty seats are available. In such cases, the airlines may ask some of the passengers to step forward and volunteer.

The airlines often in such cases offers compensation in form of the hotel room, seat during next flight or money. Many airlines these days are even offering a free ticket for any destination based on customer’s choice.

However, if no customer volunteers to the process they may be forcefully removed for paying them ‘involuntarily’. The situation of involuntarily bumping arises when the airline refuses you to board the flight for which you have the valid ticket reservation and are willing to aboard. This situation could arise despite the fact that you do not pose any threat to safety, security or health risk for the carrier.

How does the airline determine which passenger gets ‘bumped’?

boarding flight area
Usually, it is the staff members of the flight that determine who needs to be bumped in an overbooked flight. These are detected by checking the price of the tickets and it’s time. However, most of the companies such as United Airlines also choose the passengers to be bumped depending on the random selections by Computer systems. Most of the time, frequent flyers and elderly passengers aren’t chosen for this cause.

How to avoid being bumped?

Usually, overbooking of the flights come as a surprise to the customers. You can take easy steps to ensure that you can avoid these. You may choose to take the travel voucher. But, there may be a drawback in this case where you won’t receive the due compensation if you are denied boarding.

So, you will find yourself in the dilemma. It completely depends on how quick you want to reach the destination and how you want to air the travel voucher for.

When you show up for the flight voucher, you will find that there are many other volunteers too. Hence, in such cases, you should be on your flight and give it up. If you still want to take the travel voucher, you can for sure take it from the department of transportation.

⇨ Don’t take the voucher

No matter how tempting the voucher may be, do not take it if you want to reach your destination immediately. However, there is no guarantee but still, you can try.

⇨ Claim a compensation when you are denied boarding

If the substitute plane gets you where you’re goingone to two hours late on U.S. local flightsorone to four hours globally,the air carrier must pay you double the expense ofyour one-way fare, up to $675.

In caseyou’re delayed over two hours locally or more than four globally,or if the aircraft doesn’t make substitute course of action, theoverbooked flight compensation doubles, with a $1,350.

Another way is to have a talk with the gate attendant and claim the process while still waiting for the next flight.

⇨ Tell your co-passengers of their rights

Once you notice any such incident happening around you, do something about it. Passengers who were denied boarding, you should talk to them. It is your responsibility to tell them that they are entitled to compensation. Most of the passengers are unaware of this. The airlines sell the excessive ticket which is why you should make everyone cautious.

What is your right as an air passenger?

The passengers who are forced to denied boarding are entitled to receive compensation. They should be given compensation as an alternative method for their travel destination. In some of the cases, the cash amount may be increased by the airlines if the customers ask so.

Airline overbooking is common and if you ever find yourself stuck in such a situation, you should be aware of your air passenger rights. You should correct the airlines if they commit any mistake.

Anitha Perumal

Anitha Perumal

Content Strategist

Anitha Perumal is a Content Strategist at Claim Flights GmbH. She is a digital influencer, content specialist, analyst and always loves to do new things with new ideas. She holds a Master's degree in Information Technology.

If your flight delays for more than 3 hours, or was canceled, you may be eligible for compensation up to €600 based on EU 261 rule.

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