(Following United’s forceful handling of a 'bumped' passenger, we wanted to take a look at overbooking and how it affects everyday travelers). United’s mishandling of the situation has shed light on how little power consumers have when dealing with the airline industry, writes Ben Mutzabaugh of USA Today. He explains that airlines routinely overbook their flights to make up for no-shows. When there is not enough space, the airline then offers compensation for volunteers to take a later flight. If this doesn’t succeed, they remove passengers at random. As it stands flight passengers have little protection from airlines that decide to 'bump' them.
(Following United’s forceful handling of a 'bumped' passenger, we wanted to take a look at overbooking and how it affects everyday travelers). Airlines are less likely to remove customers they value more, argues Sophie-Claire Hoeller of Business Insider. She writes that companies will avoid bumping passengers that are part of their frequent flier programmes or flying in business or first class. Alternatively checking in early and booking a seat is recommended by Hoeller since airlines tend to go for fliers that do neither first. Hoeller recommends not taking late flights since they can be filled with previously bumped passengers. She believes that choosing airlines that are less likely to overbook, is the safest bet.