Why Airlines STILL Overbook

Back in the days when the aviation industry was experiencing a serious boom due to the introduction and widespread up-take of the jet-fuelled engine, a whole new world of customer service emerged, albeit more out of necessity than as an actively constructed industry. While the major airlines and those which were pioneers in the jet-fuelled aviation industry may have had a head-start in the market, their distinct lack of focus on polishing-up the customer service portion of their offerings opened up the door to the likes of Virgin Airlines (Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd). If you know any bit of history about the aviation industry, you’ll know about the much publicised battle between British Airways and Virgin Airways.

The telephone booking service employed by the airlines during those pioneering days particularly comes to mind in this discussion because you would have thought that the introduction of online booking services via the internet would have made things that much more efficient. An automated central computer system which essentially does the booking and seat-allocation job has pretty much become the norm these days, although nobody is discounting the importance of physical check-in staff. I mean you can check if there are any seats available on a specific flight you might want to catch by simply visiting the airline’s website and running a very simple search. Whenever there’s a booking made, the system allocates a seat (or a spot on the flight) and effectively removes a spot on the remaining number of spaces available on the flight.

It really isn’t a complicated system at all, even when there are last-minute cancellations, and yet we still get airlines which overbook! You get to learn about overbooking when you grow increasingly frustrated with the airline staff, particularly when you’re perhaps on standby and are waiting to see if a spot becomes available on a specific flight, or if you’re trying to book a last-minute ticket. I swear, you can be standing right in front of the check-in counter with the check-in staff members telling you that the flight is overbooked, yet if you connect to that airline’s online booking service it allows you to complete a booking and make a payment.

But why do airlines insist on overbooking though, because that’s clearly what they do — they insist?

We can talk about it from many angles, but what it ultimately comes down to is money. Airlines are at their most profitable when the aircraft which leaves the runway departs with every last one of the seats occupied. So that’s why airlines overbook — to maximise profits and they can often get away with it as a result of a lot of the cancellations they experience. If you have been delayed as a result of overbooking though, it’ll help your flight delays compensation claim a lot if you can gather up solid evidence such as the fact that the airline continued accepting bookings even though they claimed that the flight was full.

So overbooking and the resultant delays may be part and parcel of jet-setting, but you could well be eligible to get compensated for the delays you experience.

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