News

Five things to know about overbooking

1 WHY DOES THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY PRACTISE OVERBOOKING FLIGHTS?

Every time a commercial aircraft takes off with an empty seat, it is a missed opportunity. Especially when profit margins are low with cheap fares and high fuel costs.

Some air tickets can also be changed and cancelled with little or no penalty. So there would be some travellers who do not show up for their flights because there are really no penalties.

And because their ticket can be applied to another flight, or refunded altogether, the airline can lose revenue on these seats.

Airlines use the practice of overbooking to fill the empty seats left by no-show passengers.

Problems arise when more people with confirmed tickets turn up than the flight can take.

2 WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT IN RETURN IF YOU 'VOLUNTEER' TO GET BUMPED OFF A FLIGHT?

The New Paper on Sunday understands that the perks of volunteering to be bumped off varies among various airlines and depend on whether there is an easily available next flight. .

Passengers choose to give up their seat for compensation which usually comes in the form of travel vouchers or cash. The agreement is not regulated.

3 HOW MANY FLIGHTS ARE OVERBOOKED?

Three to four out of every 10 flights from Changi Airport are estimated to be overbooked during peak travel periods. The most common destinations for these flights are holiday hotspots.

According to reports, overbooked routes are usually those frequented by business travellers, particularly those on Monday mornings or between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays.

The following may also be overbooked: departures after noon on Fridays or on Sunday evenings, and direct flights.

The US Department of Transportation reports that 117,976 people or about 0.7 per cent of the total number of passengers were bumped off US airlines in the first nine months of this year. A similar figure was recorded for the same period last year.

4 CAN OVERBOOKING BE GOOD?

Yes. Stopping the practice would either limit flexibility for business travellers or increase the overall cost of air fares.

5 HOW CAN YOU AVOID BEING BUMPED OFF?

Check-in counters will tell you that the flight is full if you are the last few people to make it to the airport. To ensure you can board your flight:

1. Check in online.

2. Arrive at the airport least two hours before your flight.

- Catherine Robert