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Old 20th December 2013, 23:43   #1
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Default Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

I am writing this post not to praise any airline operator or to malign one. This is just an informative post on the practise of ‘Overbooking’ in the airline industry. It is possible that many people here already know it – Well I did not and hence I am sharing it here. Hope at least some people find it useful. Please let me know if my understanding of the overbooking concept is wrong – would be happy to learn the correct thing.

I do not travel a lot by air. I have used airlines domestically some 5-6 times and have travelled abroad once. This is nothing compared to some people who travel almost every week. Recently I planned a trip to Sasan Gir (in Gujarat) from Mumbai. We booked out tickets via Jet Konnect for a morning 5.10am flight to Rajkot (from Mumbai). On reaching the airport, here is the conversation I had with a Jet Konnect employee at their kiosk:

Me (with my e-ticket print out): Morning Mam, Here is the print out of my e-ticket for Rajkot flight.
Lady: Morning! Sure sir. Let me check it.

After few minutes….

Lady: Sorry sir but I cannot give you a boarding pass. The flight is full
Me: Huh? But I have a confirmed ticket!
Lady: Yes – But we have overbooked the flight sir. There are no empty seats in the flight now.
Me: Overbooked? What does that mean? And how is that even possible. How can you overbook when all the seats have been filled?
Lady: All airlines do it sir. This is common practice.
Me: Just because everyone does something does not make that right! What is the point of booking flight tickets 2 months in advance when there is no guarantee of getting a seat?

Imagine getting up at 3am in the morning, going to the airport and being told that you cannot travel because the airline has overbooked that particular flight. Let me explain what had happened:

If you have ever booked train tickets you might know that if a train has 100 seats and if 110 people try to book it, the 100 people (who are the quickest) will get confirmed seats and the remaining 10 people will get waitlisted. However in the airline industry all 110 people get confirmed tickets and if you are wondering what happens when all 110 turn up at the airport – well the one who reaches early will get a seat and those who reach later (though well before the usual 45 minutes deadline) will miss out.

We spoke to some senior Jet Konnect personnel at the airport and explained our situation. The manager was apologetic and accepted that it was their fault and suggested that we take the afternoon flight. We reasoned that we had a taxi waiting for us at the Rajkot airport and that we have paid advance for it. Plus we were pressed for time as we have other commitments which will get affected if we take the afternoon flight. Eventually we were accommodated on the 8am flight to Bhavnagar instead and were given ‘some’ compensation for all this trouble.

It is possible that such a thing might happen to anyone here. If you find yourself in such a situation, try to get in on some other flight (if one exists within a time frame of 1-2 hours). In our case we took a flight to a different place and were even compensated for it. Some people might just accept a flight at some other time but we had other plans thereafter hence could not compromise a huge delay for the new flight. I am a bit scared thinking what would have happened had there been some elderly people (who do not travel by air frequently)in my place. Such delays can ruin your holidays especially if the holiday itself is a short one – say for 2-3 days.

To be safe – reach the airport in advance with a sufficient margin. Even though we were in time, we were ‘late’ because the other passengers came in earlier than us.

Comments/suggestions/additional gyaan/corrections welcome
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Old 21st December 2013, 00:02   #2
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

Blatant greed disguised as sensible business practice. Sell 110 seats on a 100-seater plane, assuming 'some' no-shows/cancellations. All to make sure flight runs as close to full capacity as possible.

If 100+ turn up, it becomes first-come, first-serve or priority-based. If you happen to be the 101st confirmed passenger or a common Joe competing for the last available seats with someone more 'privileged', well, they'll see if they can 'accommodate' you on another flight. Delays unacceptable or causing losses to you & your plans? Well, 'too bad, sir' is the gist of the airlines' response.

Last edited by GTO : 26th December 2013 at 13:21. Reason: Lets avoid inappropriate terms please. Changed to 'too bad, sir'. Thanks
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Old 21st December 2013, 00:35   #3
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It's a common practice across the world. Overbooking is done by airlines to ensure they do not suffer losses when there is a no show. In fact they could profit from a no show. For e.g a person books a ticket and doesn't show up for the flight. He still gets either a small refund or change of flight. Airline can use this seat by accommodating another passenger who is overbooked. Problem happens when everyone shows up... Then airlines will have to reject passengers. That's what happened to you.

Sometimes if you are overbooked in economy airlines can upgrade you to business class where there is a no show. It happened with me once. First time I got to travel business then.

Story is different with budget airlines. In their model, a no show will mean no refund. They still overbook as some passengers are expected to no show. In this case, airline profit immensely as they get price of two tickets for one seat. This is plain cheating. Air Deccan was notorious for doing this.


To avoid such situations always keep a plan B ready. Or reach the airport really early and book your seats.
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Old 21st December 2013, 00:37   #4
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My brother is on board a flight from Nairobi, kenya right now and he faced something similar. He tried to do an e-check in but the site told him that his confirmed ticket is not valid. Then he contacted the call centre which gave a similar answer, and also told him that they are booked till 26! So he called up his agent in India. Who after some calls told my brother that he has a confirmed ticket but the flight is overbooked and he will have to reach the airport well in advance to get a boarding pass.
The agent also told that this is a standard practice and in holiday season, clashes happen! The airlines overbook just to make sure they fly a packed aircraft and maximize there profit.
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Old 21st December 2013, 00:58   #5
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JetKonnect, yeah I had bad experience with these guys too. We were going to Delhi from Bangalore on a Thursday night and had a connecting flight (different airline) to Leh in the Friday early morning. We booked well in advance(1.5 months) and was sitting pretty till 2 weeks before the travel day. In the mean time another friend was showing interest to join us for the trip and so I started checking for availability in the same flights. To my surprise I couldn't even find the JetKonnect flight for that day. I thought may be it's already fully booked but seemed strange for a Delhi Bangalore flight. So I decided to call them up. Upon calling them up they have informed us that the flight got cancelled around 10 days back and they are in the process of informing the passengers. It's been 10'days since the flight was cancelled and they've failed to inform us. On top of that they have refused/unable to give us any flight on Thursday night and was pushing for a flight on Friday morning. I had no choice but to cancel all the tickets(5) and book in a different airline but our cost shoot up by 3k per head as by that time the prices for the flights has gone up. Luckily we had to check for flight two weeks before and the situation would've been really bad if they have kept us in dark till the last moment. Decided then and there not to trust JetKonnect again, at least when time is crucial.
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Old 21st December 2013, 01:43   #6
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chetan_Rao View Post

If 100+ turn up, it becomes first-come, first-serve or priority-based.
Nowadays with online check-in available up to 48h before departure, its best to do this and have a confirmed boarding pass. Once you are checked in then they cannot deny boarding. I've been flying for the last 25 years and this has never happened to me.
Another advantage of checking in online is that you get much better seats, which is a huge bonus especially when traveling long-haul.
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Old 21st December 2013, 09:04   #7
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chetan_Rao View Post
Blatant greed disguised as sensible business practice. Sell 110 seats on a 100-seater plane, assuming 'some' no-shows/cancellations. All to make sure flight runs as close to full capacity as possible.
Trust me - When I was going through all this, I was literally cursing the entire airline industry. The sad part is that this is allowed as per rules and you can only pray that you are not the unfortunate one.

What also pains me that the people sitting at the kiosks do not offer any sort of help. They just give their standard answer without understanding the situation of the passenger. It is recommended to call some senior personnel rather than dealing with the people at their kiosks as they rarely have the authority to make decisions in such matters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sukhoi30 View Post

Sometimes if you are overbooked in economy airlines can upgrade you to business class where there is a no show. It happened with me once. First time I got to travel business then.

To avoid such situations always keep a plan B ready. Or reach the airport really early and book your seats.
Well that usually happens if there are empty seats in business call but in our case even that was booked. Yes - we always have to keep plan B ready or reach early.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stormerider View Post
My brother is on board a flight from Nairobi, kenya right now and he faced something similar. He tried to do an e-check in but the site told him that his confirmed ticket is not valid. Then he contacted the call centre which gave a similar answer, and also told him that they are booked till 26!
This is a scary situation - that too abroad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper1941 View Post
Nowadays with online check-in available up to 48h before departure, its best to do this and have a confirmed boarding pass. Once you are checked in then they cannot deny boarding. I've been flying for the last 25 years and this has never happened to me.
Another advantage of checking in online is that you get much better seats, which is a huge bonus especially when traveling long-haul.
I wanted to use that option but did not know how to proceed with it. Is web check in available on all types of tickets? I was under the impression that this facility is there only for the privilaged customers? Let me know if that is not the case - would be happy to use this and avoid such situations.
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Old 21st December 2013, 09:37   #8
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saanil View Post



I wanted to use that option but did not know how to proceed with it. Is web check in available on all types of tickets? I was under the impression that this facility is there only for the privilaged customers? Let me know if that is not the case - would be happy to use this and avoid such situations.
As far as I'm aware, yes, web check-in is available for all flights, including budget airlines. I've flown Jet Airways several times and have always used their online check-in option. JetKonnect also have this option:

http://www.jetkonnect.com/in/webcheckin.aspx
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Old 21st December 2013, 11:33   #9
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

I am no frequent flyer as the OP, but am aware of this concept. However, your post comes at a wrong time. I have booked 2 'confirmed' tickets to Bangkok through jet airways. Now I fear that since it is the year end, where my fate lies. A denial by the airlines can mean huge financial losses as all hotels etc. are done and they won't would refund a dime if I don't show up. Not to mention the disappointment that one would come to after an expectation of nice holiday set up, after learning about the boarding denial by the airlines.

Rest assured, if I complete the trip, I will post a nice travelogue.

Last edited by saket77 : 21st December 2013 at 11:40.
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Old 21st December 2013, 12:59   #10
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saanil View Post
This is a scary situation - that too abroad.


I wanted to use that option but did not know how to proceed with it. Is web check in available on all types of tickets? I was under the impression that this facility is there only for the privilaged customers? Let me know if that is not the case - would be happy to use this and avoid such situations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper1941 View Post
As far as I'm aware, yes, web check-in is available for all flights, including budget airlines. I've flown Jet Airways several times and have always used their online check-in option. JetKonnect also have this option:

http://www.jetkonnect.com/in/webcheckin.aspx
Exactly the problem I wanted to highlight is that in such cases, web check-in also doesn't work. The agent with whom we had booked even told us that sometimes in festive/holiday seasons like the Christmas/new year airlines deliberately cancel the tickets because last minute tickets are expensive and those who had booked 1-2 months in advance are paying low fare. They only accommodate or as in your case give goodies to the people who create a scene, for others who are ready to go back home, they simply don't bother.
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Old 21st December 2013, 13:08   #11
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
I am no frequent flyer as the OP, but am aware of this concept. However, your post comes at a wrong time. I have booked 2 'confirmed' tickets to Bangkok through jet airways. Now I fear that since it is the year end, where my fate lies.
Well as far as my understanding goes, this should not happen on very popular routes. To be sure, just web check in or reach the airpor well in advance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stormerider View Post
Exactly the problem I wanted to highlight is that in such cases, web check-in also doesn't work. The agent with whom we had booked even told us that sometimes in festive/holiday seasons like the Christmas/new year airlines deliberately cancel the tickets because last minute tickets are expensive and those who had booked 1-2 months in advance are paying low fare. They only accommodate or as in your case give goodies to the people who create a scene, for others who are ready to go back home, they simply don't bother.
That is the thing - unless you create a scene, they will not even bother to give you anything. One can be lucky to get something out of them without raising their voice.
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Old 21st December 2013, 13:52   #12
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

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Originally Posted by Saanil View Post
To be sure, just web check in or reach the airpor well in advance.
Probably (& apparently from the posts above) web check-in does not help the cause. The passenger has to show up physically on the check-in counter and get the web check-in print out stamped to make it a valid boarding pass!
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Old 21st December 2013, 15:07   #13
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

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Originally Posted by stormerider View Post
Exactly the problem I wanted to highlight is that in such cases, web check-in also doesn't work. The agent with whom we had booked even told us that sometimes in festive/holiday seasons like the Christmas/new year airlines deliberately cancel the tickets because last minute tickets are expensive and those who had booked 1-2 months in advance are paying low fare. They only accommodate or as in your case give goodies to the people who create a scene, for others who are ready to go back home, they simply don't bother.
Wow, that us pretty low. Doesn't work like that here, if the airlines try to pull those kind of stunts then they will be sued big time! Also what is the price difference if you buy a ticket 1-2 months in advance? In my experience it is about $60-70 for domestic and about a $100 for international here. I've also read that it is best to buy a ticket about 3 weeks before travel.
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Old 21st December 2013, 16:08   #14
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

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Wow, that us pretty low. Doesn't work like that here, if the airlines try to pull those kind of stunts then they will be sued big time! Also what is the price difference if you buy a ticket 1-2 months in advance? In my experience it is about $60-70 for domestic and about a $100 for international here. I've also read that it is best to buy a ticket about 3 weeks before travel.
I had to look at your current city. Well Sir I believe you grew up here in India and they "yahan sab CHALTA hai" (its ok kind of attitude.)
The price difference in domestic varies from Rs.2000 to Rs.5000 in some cases of last minute tickets and for International Rs.5000-Rs.30000(in case you are flying to UK) for a round trip depending on the country you want to travel.
The sad part is what rules apply to the world rarely apply to our country and fellow countrymen.
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Old 21st December 2013, 16:49   #15
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Default Re: Victim of ‘Overbooking’ on a Flight

This is completely non sense, you should sue this airline for damages in consumer court. I have never faced this problem with indigo. I never knew Jet airway is such kind of airlines, I will make sure never fly in Jet airways.

You can also write a complain to Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation to:

Dr. Balmiki Prasad
Deputy Secretary,
Contact Number: +91-011-24610361
Email Id: bprasad.moca@nic.in

http://www.civilaviation.gov.in/Moca...contactus.jspx

Remember be nice and humble and submit all the facts clearly including dates, ticket numbers, name of employees, booking numbers etc.

Last edited by Max : 21st December 2013 at 16:54.
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