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Should Airlines Be Allowed To Overbook Flights? [Opinion]

Lafayette Airport
Staff Photo

How is it that airlines are allowed to sell a product that they  might not ever let you use? That is just baffling to me. The practice I am speaking of is called overbooking and if you’ve ever had to fly back into Lafayette from Dallas, Atlanta or Houston you know what I am talking about. You will hear the call in the gate asking for “volunteers” with flexible travel plans who are willing to give up their seats on the flight in question. This doesn’t happen sometimes, it happens every time how is it possible?

From the airlines point of view overbooking is a way to manage revenue. It seems rude but it’s not against the law. They have a mathematical formula that helps them determine the percentage of people that will not be showing up for a flight. The reason people don’t show up for flights is because the airlines make give certain flexibility to frequent travelers and better customers that allow them to skip or change a flight without hardly any penalty.These no shows will result in lost revenue there fore the airline over books the flight so they won’t have empty seats.

For the occasional traveler like you and I this can put us in a bind. Since most of us don’t get the frequent traveler flexible perks we are stuck hoping we checked in on time or our connecting flight didn’t cause a problem for us. According to industry and travel experts the only way to insure that you won’t be bumped on an oversold flight is to check in early, get your seat assignment and boarding pass as soon as you can.

Now for my two cents, I think the practice is wrong. If I buy a seat on a flight I have done so because that flight best fits my travel plans. I don’t think because I was last to arrive to check in should negate the fact that the airline has charged my credit card and is holding my money. I have paid for a service and I expect that service to be delivered in a reasonable and timely manner.

Those that know the airline  industry much better than I do say doing things the way I would like them done will actually result in more expensive fares and reductions in service. I don’t see how but those with accounting and business acumen say it is the case.

My advice, always fly out of your hometown airport. If we continue to set records with Lafayette Regional we will get more flights and better service. Always check in and get your seats and boarding pass as soon as you can. With email you can do that 24 hours in advance and most airlines will send you a notice that it’s time to check in so do it.

Third, always build some flexibility into your travel plans. Sometimes it is Mother Nature that puts a kink in the colon and not the airlines. It’s always good to have a plan B, or  C or D. And my fourth bit of advice, travel often. It opens your mind and helps you learn more about who you are. It also helps you appreciate the best destination of all, home.

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