Why do airlines overbook their flights?


We’ve all been there: You gain the gate, and it seems there square measure a lot of passengers desirous to book an airline ticket and fly from purpose A to purpose B than there square measure seats on the plane. You wouldn’t be the primary person to possess the thought that, if you simply have two hundred seats, why would you sell over two hundred tickets.

Your price ticket isn’t for a particular seat

The issue is, after you book a flight, you book a ticket from, say, the big apple to San Francisco. You are doing typically select that plane you would like to urge on. You will even select a seat, however technically, you’re not shopping for that specific seat thereon specific flight. You’re shopping for a journey from one town to a different. If you’re returning in from London and you miss your affiliation in the big apple, for instance, the airline can typically re-book you onto a unique flight while not further charge. An equivalent typically happens if you arrive ten minutes late thanks to traffic.

When individuals don’t occur

You may have seen associate degree airline supply somebody $500 to voluntarily hand over their seat on a flight as a result of they’re overbooked. If you’re planning a ceremony, to a very important meeting or if you’re a doctor on your thanks to seeing a patient, which will not fly. If you’re on your manner on vacation, however, and you work that $500 to pay on another flight later within the year suggests that a free trip to go to the family, you will be willing to let yourself be taken away the flight.

Making overbooking predictable

“It seems that lots concerning business travel are predictable. If there’s a brilliant Bowl happening in Houston, Texas, we regularly see pointy dealings within the share of individuals United Nations agency use their tickets. The explanation is simple: If you’ve got a brilliant Bowl price ticket, you’re not planning to need to miss the sport. Thus you’ll use your flight price ticket. Once that happens, we tend to square measure conscious of it, and that we change our models to make sure there’s a lower share of overbooking,” St. George says. “The reason is that there’s a way larger draw back to not rental individuals fly. The PR price of somebody not creating it to the Super Bowl is bigger than flying with one or 2 empty seats.”

Putting together a one billion-piece puzzle

In the method of getting different price ticket categories, the airlines have created the way for passengers to self-select into totally different risk classes. If you purchase a Y category price ticket,” says St. George, about the airline’s classification of the economy, non-flex tickets, “you have given the U.S.A. a chunk of data. This helps inform however high of a risk you’re for not turning up to the flight. I work with a huge knowledge set going back decades, which implies that if you wing Apr the eleventh, on a right away flight from San Francisco to the big apple while not flight connections on associate degree economy price ticket, the weather outlook is calm, and a number of different factors. I will tell to a reasonably high applied mathematics accuracy whether or not or not your butt goes to be in seat 17A once the plane dashes.”


Ultimately, aviation could be a cut-throat, very low margin of profit business. If George’s airline changes its booking model to ensure that everyone flies, they’re going to be flying largely empty planes presently. And shortly afterward, they most likely won’t be flying the least bit. Some individuals square measure willing to shop for airline tickets for associate degree airline.

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