Congress to address overbooking


Looks like some Congress person what to make a law against overbooking.

This is stupid thinking (why am I not surprised).

You cannot curb behavior by passing laws. It simply does not work. So if you want to stop overbooking the you just change the results.

If a passenger gets bumped due to overbooking and the airline is unable to book the passenger on another flight within X hrs then the passenger is entitled to a cash payment of ½ of his paid fare or more plus a per diem payment to cover the cost of meals at the rate of 1 meal for every 4 hrs delayed.

If the passenger is required to stay over night then the passenger receives full fare payment and per diem and if the passenger cannot be accommodated in a hotel on airport property then transportation costs are also covered.

All funds will be provided to the passenger at time of rebooking.

This is how you change behavior, not by passing any laws rarely work.


Over booking is what keeps fares low, if the airlines must sell only the seats they have then planes will fly half empty due to no shows and ticket prices will rise accordingly.

It is ludicrous that anyone would think that Congress could improve any market reality by passing more laws that restrict the market.


I’m pretty sure I agree completely with your sentiment and every single word RET posted, but I’m curious how you would require airlines to compensate people in specific ways without passing a law. Seems to me the successful airline will do and does something like you outlined.


I don’t think overbooking is what keeps prices low.

If this was the case, every venue that has a set amount of seating would follow the practice. They don’t.

When tickets are sold out, that’s it. That’s how concerts work, movies, trains, boats, cruises, hotels, and on down the line.

Then comes airlines.
I recall years ago that if you wanted to save money, you booked later flights. Redeye flights.
They still fly those, and they are rarely fully booked.


Maybe. But why then do airlines do it?


Probably a result of having numerous ways to buy a ticket. Concerts, Movies, trains and whatnot generally only have one source for tickets.

I don’t see how overbooking can maximize profit when they end up paying out “compensation” to people they boot anyway.

I could be totally wrong, but I don’t see it. It don’t add up.


Entertainment venues have a fixed expense nut and all tickets are paid for in advance, airlines have many dynamics per flight like connecting flights being delayed (and the subsequent absence of those passengers) and many business fliers who are frequently delayed and do not fill their seats.

Overbooking enables the planes to fly more full than they otherwise would fly and bring the price of all tickets down.

If a connecting flight does not show up the airlines must still honor those tickets when the flight does arrive, if they don’t overbook then the connecting flight that was missed flew with empty seats and the flight that honors the delayed passengers tickets has seats filled with the same ticket income; meaning the seats on 2 planes were committed for one ticket sale. Not to mention the plane that honors the late planes tickets is now “overbooked” anyway due to the passengers who missed the earlier flight, so the issue remains.

Concerts don’t have to honor your ticket with another event if your car breaks down on the way to the concert.

But flying two planes with a full flight crew and thousands of dollars in fuel for the price of one planes worth of tickets will get very expensive in a hurry.

I think the airlines figure an average of 20 percent Overbooking will keep the planes full with minimal issues, to avoid the exceptions where NOBODY on the flight is willing to negotiate for their seat would probably translate into a 20 percent increase in fares.


Yeah, I already considered all of that. It doesn’t add up to me.
There is a flaw in your explanation: You cannot fly more than 100% booked.

Another: Most plane tickets are non-refundable (without a substantial penalty). YOu can pay an upcharge to make them refundable, but then you are already paying a great deal more.

With the advances in flight scheduling, IT departments, the internetz and so on, I’m just not seeing the need. When certain flights aren’t profitable, the airlines stop service until they get enough demand anyway. One example: I used to fly Southwest: Jackson MS to Portland OR, through Houston or Dallas. It was almost never full. Southwest shut that flight to Portland down, and I had to book other airlines, usually also going through Houston or Dallas. Not enough people wanted to go to Portland.

Anyhow, not a big deal to me. Just a practice I don’t like. There’s plenty of other practices I don’t like so I’m kind of used to not liking things.


Do it thru regulatory means. Regulations are easy to change and are NOT law, law is not easy to change unless its sun-setted.

What RET said is correct is you need to overbook in order to optimize the paying customers. That said the real question is what do you base your overbook on? Looking at what I see is just overbook to the max.

We have the power to capture and refine this data for ever flight at every airport at every timeframe. We look at the historical data on how many people fly on that date and time under those circumstances be it a holiday or a Mon vs Friday.

I have not flown much since 9/11, but before that I spent more time on planes than the crews did. In fact I racked up about 2 million air miles over my career.

I have been the ONLY passenger on an airplane, IIRC it was from a hub on the E coast to Dallas, it was Christmas Day and I asked them about it. The answer was: We are moving the plane to DFW due to the heavy outbound traffic beginning the day after Christmas. Point being behind the scenes airlines move a lot of planes around in order to meet expected traffic loads and to balance out the traffic.

In the OLD days <9/11. In my days of flying frequent fliers like myself soon learned the ropes and tricks of beating the game. Often when my flight was overbooked I would either go to the counter and request a flight on the next plane hot and smoking to any HUB. So instead of waiting on a flight from SEATAC to DFW, I would take my ticket and go to AA airlines and take the next thing going to any HUB, such as SFO, DEN or CHI etc for final destination DFW. But you need to know what their HUBs are.

In those days your airline ticket was the same as cash and that United ticked was good at any other carriers desk. So a delay or overbook you could go around the system by knowing who HUBed where and just head out to one of their ticket counters, made no diff which one, anyone open will do, otherwise you can spend the next few hrs standing in line instead of being on a plane flying to your next destination.

Today, on occasion I have had to fly CONUS/OCONUS and have found the experience to be miserable at best and at its worst just plane madding.

Anyone catch the news this am on Ft Lauderdale and the riots over a flight being canceled. I noted in the news footage there were a lot of blacks involved. I am sensing a trend that if blacks are not happy, they just riot. I have sat in many airports fo many hrs over canceled and overbooked flights, never saw a riot before!


In time, the light currently being shone on the effects of overbooking and the traveling public’s opportunity to exercise its free market response (withholding their business/lawsuits) to the actions/practices of certain airline companies would straighten out many of the current problems. Unfortunately, the cameras are rolling and politicians are predictably seeking face-time by way of “hearings” and eventually legislation advertised as a solution that will do nothing more than raise fares for passengers. In an age where virtually everyone carries a camera capable of producing video, nothing goes unnoticed and everything can be raised to the level of a major problem that MUST be addressed by our political class - NOT.

That said, I think RET has the best take on this issue - see his post above. Additionally, it’s obvious the airlines are in need of a better system than physically “jacking up” passengers.

One way the airlines might avoid the optical catastrophe we are now routinely witnessing is to offer a ticket price discount to a set number of passengers - say maybe 5 tickets per flight - with binding language and the mutually agreed to understanding that the passenger has agreed to give up their seat for a later flight as a consequence of accepting the reduced ticket price should it become necessary to give up their seat due to overbooking. I would imagine 5 ticket purchasers would gladly volunteer for a significant ticket price reduction. Just a thought.


Sure you can - if not 100% of the booked shows up for the flight.


:coffee_spray: You can say that again!

Yeah, maybe. While there is a technical difference between a “law” and a “regulation” or “administrative rule,” they’re in effect the same thing – government interfering in a market. I don’t think much more or less of regulations than I do laws. Sometimes, regulations can be rather more difficult to cope with than laws, especially when agencies start legislating through regulation.


Then they pay their fee. That’s what the refundable ticket fees are for.
Overbooking does not keep the fares down.

Someone doesn’t show, they already paid for the ticket. Airline gets free money.



What I learned about Regs: The military has a very regulated way of producing regulations and to change a Reg takes a LOT of effort and time, as in years.

But there is a way around it all and my boss ( LTG “Dutch” Shoffner) showed me how. He called me into his office after a briefing I had given him and tells me we need to change and write a new reg to address my improvements. His office was the “Proponent” (ownership) of that effort and as a result could staff a regulation. But he wanted to go into effect now rather than years from now after we are both gone and the possibly that the next guys just let it die.

Here is how we did it: Staff it across the Army, CC DoD, put it out as a 'D R A F T pending approval, to supersede all previous Regs, effective date immediately pending staffing."

Now the staffing was 6 mo, but I said: Sir I can do it faster, in fact real time, if you will provide me the travel funds I will bring in the first tier staffing approval and comment. Put them in a room and using a computer (for the first time) will project the Reg on screen and rewrite and vote on the new reg. at the end of the week we will have an approved reg by the first tier and all others (Army wide and DoD will make comments for changes.

30 days later I sent out the new reg under his signature as the draft and the result was it went into effect immediately.

FYI: I won’t say here what the reg changed and did, but there is not a person on this forum that was not effected by it, as it was adopted by DoD, the Mil-Industrial complex and the rest of corp America. And most of you have the results in your home today…


Free money that they then don’t pass down in the form of lower prices? Because lets be real, prices have only been going up with less service.

And hell, United Stock recovered… it’s obvious calling in govt employees to violently remove paying customers over a problem United caused is cheaper than paying more compensation. And the law is on the airlines side! After all, it’s literally illegal to say no to a airlines worker when they order you from your legitimately payed for and validated seat.