Monday, October 22, 2007

Why do airlines overbook flights?

Why do airlines overbook flights?Airlines routinely overbook flights to compensate for no-shows: people who reschedule or opt not to fly. An empty seat on a plane means a loss of revenue to an airline.Overbooking is a standard practice and perfectly legal. Many airlines regularly overbook busy routes by as much as 200 percent. By law, all bumped passengers are entitled to some form of compensation, usually in the form of a free ticket.Thus, the airlines have to balance the risk of a no-show with the compensation they have to pay to bumped passengers. They overbook according to a number of variables: whether it's a holiday season, how the airline market is doing in general, and perhaps most importantly, a specific flight's history of no-shows.An average of 50,000 passengers are bumped by the nation's ten largest airlines every year.


  1. Nowadays, air companies used to overbook to be sure that they could fill all their seats. Therefore, these companies book more seats that they have, so if all the passangers go to the airport that day the air companies cannot give their service and people cannot fly in that flight.

    In these cases, pleople should make their complaints to the air company and they can chose between different options.

    The passenger who has't taken his flight has right to fly in next flight, also he has the right to an amount of money as compensation which depend on the miles of the flight and finally, if the passenger has to pass one night in the airport, air companies has to give him the accommodation.


  2. Thanks Susana for your answer, but I have a doubt. Is it legal that kind of selling tickets? In that case, why? Is there any logical reason. I cannot undertand that from the point of wiew of a teacher, not directly involved in the tourism industry...

  3. Hello teacher,

    I've worked during several years in an airport and I've studied the subject of commercial law, too. So I know the air companies are allowed by the law to overbook their flight and it's completely legal.

    By other hand, the law also defends the turist consumers with different rights which they can use in these cases and finally the can go to the courts if they thought that the troubles and damages are bigger than the commercial law said in its text.

  4. Thanks Susana for your answer!

    By the way... "on the other hand"...;)

  5. Overbooking is used by airlines to maximize ticket prices. If you buy your ticket months in advance at a low fare, the airline will gladly sell your seat to a higher paying last minute customer. The lowest paying customer always gets bumped first.

    Check the fare differential on bump flights and you'll see that it more than covers the cost of putting up the bumped ticket holders overnight.

    I can think of two remedies.
    1. Auction - if there aren't enough seats the airline must offer increasing amounts of money, until ticket holders voluntarily give up their seats.
    2. The bump order goes by purchase time/date. the last buyer gets bumped first.