No. of Recommendations: 12
Approximately 900,000 people each and every year since about 1990 arrive at their U.S. airport with confirmed tickets and are told that there is no seat for them on the plane. Of those 900,000, approximately 863,000 accept the airlines' offer of compensation (made at the gate generally). Those approx. 863,000 passengers are described as having been "voluntarily bumped" (because they accepted the airlines' compensation).

Approximately 37,000 people each year in the U.S. refuse the airlines' offer of compensation -- those folks are said to have been "involuntarily bumped."

Hey Tomjet,

I know you are upset about getting Involuntary bumped, but aside from listing all the statistics, what would you do to fix this? You have noted that the airlines are overboooking or overselling flights, as you have found out, this has been going on for years. As I and others have stated, there is also a large amount of cancelations for every flight, so the airline is forced to play the odds in an attempts to keep the flights as full as possible. In the US, from Oct-Dec 2006 there were 140,947 voluntarily bumps and 12,238 involuntarily bumps with the industry flying 137,933,616 passengers. The DOT breaks this down to .84 passengers for every 10,000 were denied a seat on a flight (Involuntarily bump).
To me, this shows that the airline industry is doing pretty good at managing the process. It isn't perfect, as people were still denied seats, but the numbers are pretty good.

How do you make it perfect?

If you are suggesting Government Regulation - where no airline can ever overbook a flight. This will mean that flights would now fly with an industry average of 16% of the seats not filled. On your average 150-190 seat aircraft, that will mean that 24-30 seats would not have people in them. The airline would have to make up the missing revenue by raising prices.

The other choice the airline would have is to make the 16% average no-shows somehow disappear. The only way I see the airlines could do this is by making all tickets unchangeable. if you missed your flight because of traffic on the freeway or you got lost on the way back from your vacation, sorry you need to buy a new ticket. You need to change your ticket because of a family emergency, sorry you need to buy a new ticket. What happens in a weather closure at a major hub? Are those folks out of luck now since they picked a bad day to fly. Take the next availible flight? Well, that could be a while, since the airline has already sold all the seats and can't overbook and they don't allow folks to change tickets anymore.

I know I probably sound like a mouth piece for the airline industry, but I'm really not. I wish there were an easy fix to this problem, but it isn't just the airlines causing this problem. That 16% no-show average rate is something the airlines does, it is the passengers for the most part, but they have to deal with it the best they can. Their goal is to fly a plane 100% full with no passengers left behind. Any other case means they are either giving out compensation of some sort or loosing revenue from empty seats.
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