Why airlines overbook flights?

It comes to no surprise that the public is at an uproar with the recent United passenger who was removed from a flight due to overbooking. What are your rights as a passenger when it comes to an overbooked flight?

Why do Airlines Overbook flights?

Overbooking is a common practice for airlines designed to ensure every plane departs at full capacity. It may sound counterintuitive, the practice of selling more tickets on an airplane than there are seats benefits both airlines and passengers. Based on years of statistical data and algorithms to compensate for “no-shows”, airlines continue to overbook flights to maximize their profits. It may be a passenger’s worse nightmare however overbooking is a perfectly legal practice. Although overbooking is common, the number of passengers who are denied boarding is small.

While the airlines maximize profits, passengers enjoy an array of flexibility due to overbooking such as moving their travel dates after purchase or in situations when a customer misses their flight, still having an opportunity to arrive at their destination. Overbooking also allows the airlines to keep flight costs low.

Know Your Rights

Although overbooking is legal, as a paying customer you should know your rights if you are ever bumped from your flight. In the event, you are in an overbook flight situation, a gate agent will proactively look for volunteers to move to a later flight often lined with travel vouchers or other types of compensation. Compensation such as free meals, free upgrades or admission into their swanky airport lounges help sweeten the pot too. If the airline cannot clear enough seats, the pay-off will generally increase as the flight nears take-off eventually capping off at $1,350 per person.

Most passenger are unaware that they enter in a legal contract each time they purchase an airline ticket. A passenger’s rights are defined in the Contract of Carriage which clearly outlines the legal expectations of the passenger and the airlines. Under contract each passenger agrees that their flight may be overbooked and can be involuntarily denied boarding based on the airlines discretion only after a reasonable amount of compensation has not been accepted. In an event, there are more passengers than seats, an airline is legally able to involuntarily deny boarding or remove passengers.

What to Do if you are on an Overbooked Flight

If you are sitting at your gate and hear your flight is overbooked you will have to think about which options benefits you the most. You will need to ask yourself how important it is for you to arrive at your destination on how much you are willing to be compensated.

In most cases, there will be enough volunteers who are willing to accept travel vouchers in which you will remain on your flight. If there are not enough volunteers, any passengers who are denied boarding will then be compensated for missing their flight which can constitute a higher pay off.

So which airlines should I take?

GOOD: Hawaiian , Delta and Virgin America
BAD: Alaska, United, Spirit and Frontier
WORSE: American, jetBlue and Southwest

How to choose the right cruise for you?

Planning your next cruise vacation can be very confusing. Cruises have continued to evolve into more than a means of island hopping through the Caribbean. With a vast number of itineraries and more innovative ships setting sail, it may be the right time to try a cruise. But who can go through each individual cruise line and know if they made the right choice?

Here are some quick tips when planning your next cruise.

Where would you like to go?

The first question you should ask yourself is, “Where do I want to go?’. The Caribbean has been the most popular cruise destination because it’s great for families, couples, and singles. There isn’t much pressure to go off the ship. Most cruisers can enjoy either relaxing on or off the ship.  Do you tend to get cabin fever or maybe love to explore the city? You might want to pick an itinerary in Europe or Asia, where taking tours and sightseeing is a must! For more unique ports, try Southeast Asia and Australia which are popular during the winter months.

When do you plan to travel?

Most vacations are planned around school schedules, family, and holidays. So during the planning process consider destinations with year-round weather such as Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Europe and Alaskan cruises are in season during the summer months between June and August, where the temperatures are more favorable for tourists. However, traveling during the shoulder season (May or September) can offer major bargains and be more appealing than in the high season (June – August).

A major misconception is that you can travel any itinerary at any time. This is not true. Itineraries have seasons. For example: Your 3-4 day cruises are available during the summer months. More popular itineraries are available during peak seasons.  This can have a huge influence on which cruise line you choose. During the winter months, cruises have longer itineraries with more ports of calls to attract travelers. In the summer months expect shorter itineraries around 4, 5 and 7 day cruises.

Pick your cruise personality

No two cruise lines are alike and when choosing you must understand the differences. Every cruise line targets a specific market and bases its design, ambiance, entertainment and food around it. For instance, for families and travelers who value entertainment, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian tops the list with extravagant Broadway type shows and an assortment of activities onboard. For those who aim to relax and rejuvenate during their vacation, Princess Cruise line focuses on enrichment and a spa type atmosphere, while Celebrity Cruises are more for foodies and adventurous people.

Know your budget

This seems to be one of the hardest questions for travelers to answer but has the most relevance when choosing your next vacation. Cruises have the best value when being compared to land tours because the accommodations, meals and transportation are included in the price. Added benefits included but often not mentioned are kids programs and babysitting, complimentary classes for dancing, yoga and other fitness seminars.

Getting the most value out of your dollar is important to everyone especially when on vacation. A simple rule when planning is calculate  how much you will spend per day per person for food + entertainment + lodging multiplied by the number of nights you want to travel equals your budget.

Making the right choice

Make sure to talk to your travel agent or do your research before booking your cruise. This  ensures you are getting the experience that  you’ve been looking forward to.  Just remember, there is a cruise line for every type of passenger. Happy Sailings.