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What is an Overbooked Flight & Everything You Must Know about the Practice

What is an Overbooked Flight & Everything You Must Know about the Practice
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An overbooked flight means an airline sold more tickets than the number of seats available on an aircraft. Airlines overbook to avoid flying an aircraft with empty seats due to missed connections and no-show passengers. Well, the airlines are always on a look out for more revenue and overbooking flights get them more profit!

In this blog, we have discussed everything about what is an overbooking flight and what do the passengers owe in a similar situation. You must know how to deal with a situation when the airline bumps you off from the flight as it is overbooked. Read on.

What is an overbooked flight?

Overbooked flight, also referred as oversold flight by some airlines is a strategy that airlines use to avoid empty seats. Airlines make an average calculation of the percentage of no show passengers possible in a flight and so they try overbooking the flights to fill up the possibly empty seats.

Is overbooking flights a legal process?

Yes, according to federal law, overbooking flights is legal. However, there are some rules on overbooked flights compensation for passengers who are bumped because the airlines do not have enough seats for them.

What are the consequences of an overbooked flight?

If you are in an overbooked flight, it is not that the airlines will start bumping off passengers involuntarily right then. According to the rules formed by the US Department of Transportation, the airlines must seek volunteers first and must be originating in the US.

Only when this option is exhausted and if the situation demands, the airlines will start involuntary bumping off of passengers from the overbooked flight.

On what grounds does the airline decide who to bump from the flight?

The factors considered by airlines while deciding on the passengers to be bumped due to overbooking is based on their individual Carrier policies. The order is mentioned in the ‘contract of carriage’ of the airline which gets valid the moment a passenger books a flight with an airline.

United Airlines says that disabled passengers and unaccompanied minors should be bumped last but the policy of American Airlines differ a bit as their preference goes with the passengers who checked-in first. Additionally, the class of travel is also a point taken into consideration while bumping passengers off a flight. Yes, you got it right – reach the airport late and you might get bumped off from the overbooked flight.

Talking about Delta Airlines, the loyalty status and check-in order are the determining factors along with ticket fare and travel class. So, if you book business class flights instead of economy class, your chances of getting bumped off from the flight. However, they keep the disabled, unaccompanied minors and military members protected from the bumping practice.

How to avoid getting bumped off a flight?

If you don’t want to get bumped off from the plane in case of overbooking, the best thing you can do is check-in at the earliest. Reach the airport early and get done with the security check-in process as soon as possible. In case of an overbooked flight, passengers who reach late are likely to miss getting a seat and when it comes to bumping off passengers, they are mostly the targets.

What does an airline owe to the involuntarily bumped passengers?

In the United States, if you are bumped off a flight by an airline, the US Department of Transportation has some rules to protect you if you have a confirmed reservation and you arrived at the boarding gate on time after check-in.

In case of an alternative flight arranged for you, you will not be allowed any kind of compensation if the new flight reaches the destination at the same time as the original schedule. However, if your substitute US domestic flight takes you to the destination one to two hours late than the original scheduled arrival time, or a US international substitute flight takes 1-4 hours more to reach the destination, the airline owes you double the cost of the one-way fare, up to a maximum amount of $675.

If the flight bump delays your travel by over 4 hours internationally or 2 hours domestically, the airline is responsible to give you double the compensation that is up to a maximum amount of $1350.

Remember to claim the compensation on the spot. There are many cases when the passengers do not claim the payment and it saves the airline from paying the compensation. The rules of European Union are quite similar but have some differences.

Note: These compensation rules are applicable only on flight delays of the alternate flight booked for you in place of the overbooked flight and not for any other reason.

So now you know what an overbooked flight is and how to deal with that situation smartly. Just don’t make any mistakes from your end and don’t give in voluntarily to choose an alternative flight. The compensation matters more than the travel voucher amount!

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