By now, I’m sure everyone has at least heard about the unfortunate incident on a United flight last week where a man was forcibly removed from a plane. I’m not going to get into what was wrong with that particular scenario, but being a frequent traveler and travel blogger, I read people’s comments on social media and quickly realized that the casual traveler knows very little about overbooking and denial of service. In addition, it’s not always easy to find information about a travel company’s policies to find out one’s rights if that happens so I hope the overview below will help.
First, know that overbooking doesn’t just happen with the airlines. Hotels do it. Rental car companies do it, too. Companies in the travel industry have learned over the years that they can count on a certain percentage of no shows and cancellations. Then, they sell more seats or rooms or cars than they have available, gambling that there will be enough cancellations or no shows to cover it. Sometimes that happens; other times it can turn into a nightmare for a traveler who has very little recourse.
Since this is such a huge topic, today I’m just going to cover airlines. Next week, I will cover hotels and then the following week I will cover rental car companies so be sure to check back for more information. Continue reading