Overbooking Airlines Caught with Pants Down

Screen shot of airline ticketing site
Denver is currently experiencing a severe snowstorm. 2,000 flights have been cancelled in the last four days. With that many postponements and passengers sleeping on the airport floor that all flights would be full. To see who overbooks and who doesn’t, I tried to buy a ticket flying from Denver today. Well, if you are American Airlines, Midwest, or Northwest you must have plenty of seats left to still be selling them. America West and United are also implicated.

I think it is very clear that these three airlines are overselling their planes on purpose – during the holidays no less. I can’t think of any other way to describe this than rat bastards.

On the up side, I’m really glad to not see my favorite airlines like Southwest and AirTran participating in this practice. I’m also very surprised to not see Delta on the list. While it doesn’t surprise me that some airlines just got caught overbooking, I’m really glad to see that most airlines, too numerous to mention individually, are all playing it straight.

While this sample just shows flights to Atlanta, I tried other major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C. The same airlines are implicated. I also checked their individual web sites and each offered a ticket, so they can’t blame the SABRE network.

Overbooking airlines claim that all airlines overbook. Obviously, that is not the case. Look, stuff happens. Every airline in Denver today is overbooked due to the weather. Mechanical delays and other issues can cause it to happen to the best of airlines. But now, armed with this information, you know whether or not it is a routine practice. So, if you are in Denver today (or anywhere else) and not flying on one of these airlines, cut the gate agents a little slack. Whatever delayed or overbooked your flight is an act of God. Take it up with him. And if you are on one of the above airlines, $800 and your seat belongs to me.

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