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Why Do Airlines Overbook Flights? (And Other Things Airlines Do)

 

overbooked airline cabin

 

 

Topics covered:

  • Why do airlines overbook flights?
  • Why do airlines charge for bags?
  • Why do airlines allow pets?
  • Why do airlines cancel flights?
  • Why do airlines board front to back?
  • Why do airlines restrict liquids?

 

Related Posts:

 

Why do airlines overbook flights?

 

Overbooking and selling too many seats is something that all airlines do. It drives me crazy and many people get frustrated over this. But I kinda understand why they do it. Let me explain.

Even if you have purchased a ticket for a flight, it doesn’t guarantee you will get on the flight. If the flight is full and the airline oversold the flight, it’s possible that you could still be denied the seat and get bumped.

Getting bumped is what happens when the airline sells too many tickets and they need a certain number of people to take another flight. Most times they will offer certain perks and ask for volunteers to give up their seat and take a different flight.

This could sometimes end up being a good thing if you are flexible on your travel times, the perks that they offer can be quite good. Things like free flight passes, meals, vouchers, frequent flyer miles, and even cash can all be offered. Usually, the longer the delay, the better the offers are.

 

So why do airlines overbook flights?

 

Most airlines do this to make up for the number of no shows for the flight. This is the part that I understand why they do it. As a pilot myself for many years, I can attest to the fact that many people do not show up for their flights.

It can be for a number of reasons why, but I know for a fact that most flights have quite a few no shows. So the airline will sell a certain number of tickets over what the plane can hold due to the fact that they are counting on no shows.

The number of seats that they oversell by, is calculated from looking at the statistics for each flight and getting an average of no shows over a period of time. Time of year, time of flight, routing and many other things are taken into consideration.

Every seat that goes unoccupied is a loss for the airline. Your ticket prices and revenue that the airline makes is calculated on a per-seat basis. So it’s very important to have as many seats filled as possible for the airline to be profitable.

Here is a great video explaining why airlines sell too many tickets.

 

 

 

 

How to avoid getting bumped from a flight:

  • Don’t be late!

You should always plan to arrive for your flight 1.5 hours prior to allow time for check-in and security. You also need to be at the gate at least 15 minutes prior to boarding. Don’t show up last minute and expect to be allowed on the plane once the gate is closed. Also, keep in mind that most airlines will not refund you if you miss your flight.

  • Be kind to the staff!

If you are not nice, kind and courteous to the airline staff, your chances of getting bumped are greatly increased. The airlines will not put up with any sort of abuse or rudeness, so in the event they need to bump someone off the flight, you will be the first one picked. 

  • Dress properly!

There are many things that will determine how you want to dress for a flight. Things like weather, destination, flight duration all play a factor. It’s important that you don’t wear inappropriate or offensive clothing as this would not be acceptable and would make you a good choice to get bumped from the flight.

 

As a passenger, you do have air travel rights when it comes to being flights being oversold and you being bumped from a flight. You can read more about your travel rights in the consumer guide to air travel from the U.S Department of Transportation website. 

 

Why do airlines charge for bags?

 

It’s no secret that the airlines over the years keep ramping up the fees for the luggage you bring on board the plane. In 2018, many airlines including Air Canada, Westjet and Jetblue announced that they will be increasing baggage fees once again. 

Years ago, most airlines had a policy where the first bag was free and you paid a fee for the second bag and so on. Then there started being a charge for the first bag, now you will see that it’s rare for there not to be a baggage fee at all. 

Luggage weight also plays a role in determining the fee you will pay. If you are bringing heavy and bulky luggage with you, expect to pay a hefty fee. Of course, you can avoid these fees by choosing lighter luggage, but that’s not always possible. 

It’s common now for the airlines to charge extra for everything. Bags, food, and beverages, even picking your seat online in advance can have an extra fee. As times change, and things get more expensive for the airlines to operate, cost of fuel, salaries, and many more things keep going up, so does the cost of our luggage fees.

But there is one good thing to say about these rising costs that kinda offset the fees. The days of buying an airline ticket, paying one fee and having everything included is over. This may sound like a bad thing, but as the internet took over and people were comparing prices of airfares, this caused huge competition and prices started falling.

So even though you may feel that you are paying for every separate item when it comes to the airlines, keep in mind that airfare costs have been dropping over the past 20 years or so. You may pay extra for your luggage, but are most likely paying less for the plane ticket!

This chart shows the decline in airfare from 1995-2018 adjusted for inflation. 

 

 

Why do airlines allow pets?

 

tips for dog in aircraft cabin

 

The regulations for traveling with a pet on board a plane is not set in stone. I mean there is not one regulation for all. Each airline will have different policies in place for them. 

Some airlines may allow small dogs in the cabin, and others may not. Same goes for other animals. Also, the cost of transporting an animal on a plane can be different for each airline. It’s always best to contact the airline directly to confirm if your pets are allowed or not.

There is no restriction on bringing service animals and they are not considered a pet. The airlines must allow service animals and you will not be charged extra for them.

Most all airlines will allow pets as they are a huge part of our lives. Just make sure you follow their policies with respect to pets and you should have no issues. 

Pro tip:

If you are allergic to a certain pet, make sure that you let the airline know so they can accommodate you properly if there is an animal on board. Don’t wait until last minute once you are on board to tell them as changing seats or flights will be more difficult. 

Also if you are bringing your pet on board, make sure you have a proper travel carrier that is suitable for the pet. This will make things go a lot smoother for you and your pet. 

 

Why do airlines cancel flights? – These are the main reasons

  • Weather
  • Security
  • Mechanical
  • Crew 

 

Flight cancellations are something that I am very familiar with. It’s something that you just get used to after a while. It’s also something that can make passengers very frustrated. 

There are many reasons why an airline might cancel a flight. The most common one being poor weather. This is something that all airlines take very seriously and is also something that is beyond their control. 

No one can control the weather and all airlines will put safety first. There are strict guidelines when it comes to flying in poor weather and the airline staff is highly qualified to determine when the weather is not safe to fly.

Security is another reason why your flight might be canceled. Airport security, aircraft security, and passenger safety are always the top priority. Airport security is stronger than it’s ever been, but if there is a security breach, you may encounter a canceled flight.

Mechanical issues are also common and it’s just something that goes along with air travel. All aircraft and airlines are under strict regulations to ensure proper maintenance is completed on all planes. But every once and a while, something will unexpectedly need a repair and cause your flight to be delayed or even canceled depending on the issue.

Flight crew staffing issues can also cause a flight to be delayed. Perhaps a staff member called in sick last minute or didn’t show up, or delays cause crew members to go over their duty day limits. This is something that is fairly common and most airlines are prepared and have backup crew members. But you may be traveling in a location where the company doesn’t have a base and on-call staff are not available.

 

Why do airlines board front to back?

 

which airline has the most legroom

 

Boarding an airplane is never fun. It seems to take forever. Nowadays even more so, as the increase in allowed carry on bags make it take longer for everyone to get seated. 

For a long time, airlines always boarded the plane from the rear to the front. Meaning that the last row went first and everyone else followed. Well, that was leading to the most aisle interferences and taking the most time.

Now, airlines will board the business class passengers first, then the front to back method is used. The reason for this is efficiency and speed. There have been many experiments that prove boarding front to back is the most efficient for the airline.

Mythbusters concluded that it is actually 10 minutes slower to board the plane from the back to front. You can read that article on Businessinsider.com

 

Why do airlines restrict liquids?

 

Actually, it’s not the airline’s restriction. This has to do with the Transport Security Administration and their guidelines for bringing liquids on board the plane. You are limited to 100ml or 3.4 ounces to be carried on board the plane. 

The problem you will run into is at airport security. You will not be allowed through security with anything over the limit. This includes beverages, shampoo, and any other liquids. If you want to bring a drink with you on the plane, you will need to wait until through security, then purchase it before boarding the plane.

There is more information on the TSA website. 

 

In summary,

Whenever you are traveling, make sure to have an open mind when it comes to airlines rules and regulations. They are there for a reason. Even though some things like delays or flight cancellations can be frustrating, it’s just part of the business and keep in mind the airline will always act with safety first in mind!

Hopefully, you found this helpful. As always, feel free to leave a comment or send us a message anytime via our contact form.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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