April 28, 2017
Southwest Will Stop Overbooking after United Incident
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly announced yesterday that the airline will no longer overbook flights, following the infamous incident of the overbooked United passenger who was dragged off his flight. Overbooking is the practice of overselling seats on an an airplane. Airlines often overbook in anticipation of a certain percentage of passengers not showing up for their flights. This can understandable infuriate passengers who are denied boarding because the airline sold their seat to someone else.
As of May 8, 2017, Southwest will end its practice of overbooking flights. It joins JetBlue as the second high-profile US airline to not overbook. Airlines are adjusting to the PR mess United faced for forcibly removing Dr. Dao. United recently settled that lawsuit for an undisclosed sum. United is also implementing 10 changes to its booking and boarding process to ensure that similar incidents never happen again. As part of these changes, United will overbook less seats on flights in which passengers aren’t likely to voluntarily give up their seats. United will also increase compensation to passengers to voluntarily give up their seats to $10,000. Delta implemented a similar $9,950 cap on voluntarily denied boarding compensation two weeks ago.
Overall I commend Southwest for its decision to stop overbooking. Airlines don’t need to overbook seats to earn a profit and there’s nothing more frustrating than booking a seat only to find out the airline gave your seat away. JetBlue is actually my favorite airline to fly domestically because the service is consistently better compared to the legacy carriers and overbooking is never an issue.
H/T: CNN Money