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U.S. airlines overbookings-any others have bad experiences?

U.S. airlines overbookings-any others have bad experiences?

Old Apr 29th, 2003, 11:28 AM
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U.S. airlines overbookings-any others have bad experiences?

Came back from Nevis, and all was AOK on Liat airlines and American through Beef Island and Puerto Rico. Delta overbooked a 50-seat plane, with 65 paying customers for the 50-seats, out of Ft. Lauderdale. I purchased my tickets in October of 2002. I also confirmed via telephone three times before to make sure they were still available a month before, and also on the morning of the flights. Each time Delta reassured me my seats were confirmed. Out of Ft. Lauderdale, Delta ticket agents said the plane was overbooked by 15 people, and no room was left, and that I had to fly to Ft. Wayne Indiana, which would land there at midnight, instead of my scheduled flights to Toledo, Oh at 10pm. I felt sorry for one woman with a weary 3-year old child which was crying and obviosly had a full diaper. I held her place in line for her while she rocketed her toddler to the bathroom for a quick diaper change. The dozen+ other "bumped off the plane passengers" were under various forms of stress and anxiety over missed deadlines as well'i.e., pre-med students missing a morning exam, my wife having to undergo surgery at MCO, etc. Then, Delta agents offered vouchers for a meal only at Ft. Wayne airport and for "ground transportation" to Toledo. Upon touching down in Ft. Wayne, the Delta ticket counter was closed and no Delta Airline personnel were around; small airports close at midnight, I guess. No restaurants open to use the voucher and no Delta agents to steer me to "ground transportation" for the 100+ mile drive to Toledo. The rental car agencies at Ft. Wayne airport wouldn't accept the Delta vouchers, so I rented a car with my credit card since I had to get to work at 6am the next morning; it was 1am in Ft. Wayne before I drove off. Now I found out that Delta will not accept rental cars; I was supposed to get a "taxi;" even though Delta agents in Ft. Lauderdale said it would "probably" be a rental car. Too bad no agents were to greet us in Ft. Wayne at midnight. I will send in my rental car recept and meal I purchased on the 2am drive to Toledo, to Delta. I wonder if they'll reimburse me? Any one have a bad experience with overbooked flights, especially when you paid for the seats 7 months prior? Is this legal? Any attorneys out there? A reasonable person would wager that booking 65 people on a 50-seater connector flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Toledo, Ohio is beyond a clerical error. Should I charge them for the long drive and missiong work the next day? Is this rather gross error common? Is it airline policy forged by top executives which lead to these gross over-bookings? Unfortunately, the Delta agents were just as frustrated as the passengers, and I salute them for their good attempts to assure we all eventually made it to our already paid-for destinations. Please advise. Robert
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Old Apr 29th, 2003, 11:47 AM
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The above title isn't "US Airlines" as of the company, I meant airlines in the U.S. in general.
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Old Apr 29th, 2003, 12:57 PM
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Robert, I've had plenty of "confirmed" flights bumped from under me. Especially during the holidays and spring break. If it's not overly inconvenient, it's a good way to get a comped ticket, or vouchers for additional trips.
Unless I'm in a rush to get somewhere, I usually volunteer to get bumped (after they up the ante) ,which gets me out on the next flight to my destination, a comped ticket, and an occasional upgrade as well.
Unfortunately, there are times when you just have to get where your going, and the airlines don't really give a darn.
I once had a "confirmed" seat on Continental to the bahamas which was overbooked by 100%. That was a few years ago.. but I'd say 10 - 15 seats per flight is about right during high season. Fortunately, I usually travel from NYC or Nassau, so there are plent of flights coming and going.
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Old Apr 29th, 2003, 01:47 PM
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Overbooking and bumping is a customary procedure and it is not unusual. Especially if you had the last flight of the night out to your destination you can wind up with all sorts of options - all of them the airlines! Spent many a unexpected extra night in
SJU and other locations due to the same. Some love the voluntary bump, the voucher for the bump and all that it entails but now that the airlines have gotten stingier it's not such a deal anymore. You can write to Delta customer service and provide receipts for the additional expenses and maybe you'll get lucky. They may deposit some miles in your ff account if that wasn't part of the deal. The savvy flyer knows Rule 240 and the restrictions and obligations places on airlines but it's cheaper to put pax in empty seats on flights than it is to assume lost revenue for an empty seat on your original flight. Overbooking is like selling the same seat twice and should be illegal!
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 05:20 AM
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Rule 240 has nothing to do with overbooking.It only covers "schedule irregularities" which is defined by each airline differently.Overbooking is an age old practice and since deregulation,the traveller is basically out of luck as far as remedies go.Before the onslaught of e-tickets,if I remember correctly, a small flyer had to accompany the ticket itself and this notice spelled out clearly that airlines overbook.I actually never read it.I already knew that.It seems that the airlines psyche is that it is les expensive to accomodate bumpees than to send a plane out with empty seats.Your experience Robert was awful.There was no follow thru and no communication.I would send in the receipts from your car rental with a very matter of fact explanation, just like you have done here.You may get a voucher for futre travel, and you may not even get an answer.IMHO, Delta is the least consumer friendly of any airline I have encountered.Thats why I avoid them.Yes,there are a lot of Delta fans here and on other boards.Again, its just my opinion.
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 05:40 AM
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Beachboi (or anyone else who would know)-

On Delta's website they are touting an on-line check in procedure where you can check in for a flight up to 30 hours in advance and print out your own boarding pass. I was curious - do you think that would prevent you being "bumped" from flights? At first I couldn't see the advantage of this unless you had no luggage to check, but maybe the advantage would be that since you had a boarding pass you couldn't be bumped. I fly Delta a lot, but I haven't used this yet.

Robert what happened to you has to be an example of some of the poorest customer service that the airlines are capable of dishing out.
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 06:02 AM
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Having your BoardingPass in hand when you arrive at any airport will benefit you.But it does not release you from the requirement to check in at the gate.Delta's requirement is 30 minutes prior to departure.You get thru the security check line,then go to the gate.If you are NOT there 30 minutes prior to departure and physically check in for your flight with the agent,they are then released from their responsibility of holding your seat.They KEY is to be at the gate before cutoff time.In an overbooked situation,I can guarantee you that gate agent is watching the clock closely.With or without a BP,if you are "late" you can be bumped regardless of how long ago you bought your ticket.HTH
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 06:31 AM
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Thanks. I was speaking of a situation though where no one was late and the flight was overbooked. I am assuming that you would be better off to make it on that flight if you had a boarding pass. Robert didn't mention being late to his flight. If they were overbooked by 15, chances are many of those bumped were there on time.
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 10:23 AM
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Actually, last time I flew Delta that I checked in online and printed my boarding pass. When I showed up at the gate I didn't check in and I was fine despite the fact that there were about about 10 standby passengers, some of whom didn't make it on. I reviewed Delta's website which makes no mention of having to check in at the gate if you already have a boarding pass. It figures that having to do this would defeat the purpose of offering the service online.

So this brings us back to the original question. Does anyone know if you can print your boarding pass 24 hours early as allowed in order to avoid getting bumped?
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 10:27 AM
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Hello; I wasn't late for my fligt. What happened was in Ft. Lauderdale, I put my e-ticket into the special machine which prints out your tickets. My e-ticket had the trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta, then from Atlanta to Toledo on it. BUT, only one boarding pass was printed out; i.e., the jaunt from Ft. Lauderdale to Atlanta, and not the one from Atlanta to Toledo. Why? Apparently, because the Atlanta to Toledo flight was already overbooked. I didn't catch the second BP not being printed out for me, and the Delta agent in Ft. Lauderdale didn't point it out to me either. Either way, there was no seat available. I guess I'm wondering why some one hasn't brought this to a legal decision. As a corporation, when you market a service or product, and entice people to reach into their wallets and purses to buy it, they are ultimately responsible for providing you with what they market before your eyes. Robert
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 10:41 AM
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I guess I'm missing a point.I dont think that just because you have a boarding pass in hand,24 hours in advance of your departure,that you are absolutely guaranteed a seat.Its just like Robert, who purchased his tickets last fall, well before some people even thought about taking the flight he was on.Early purchase of a ticket did nothing for him.Its the old story of how the gate agent has a lot of "power" and yes some of them know just that.And by the same token, if you call Delta(or ANY airline) you are likely to get as many different answeres as calls you make.I just awlays make it known that I am there and ready to fly, "check in" as it were.And I do notice some people just causally standing around some of whom make no moves towards the gate agent.So bottom line I dont know.
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 10:49 AM
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Robert
I was replying at the same time you were.Here's the scoop with prereserved seats.All US carriers hold back approximately 40% of seats available to prereserved, for airport check in.That allows them a little flexibility for travellers who for no apparent reason have none.If there is an equipment change,cancellation, whatever.I tell my TA to get me a seat, period.Historically, the first passengers to be bumped will be those who have no seat assignment.Its an out for the gate agent when you check in and you dont have a seat assignment.They know that they are oversold and they are looking for "victims".So no seat assignment, no seat.
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Old Apr 30th, 2003, 12:53 PM
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I know you weren't referring to USAir but that's who we almost always fly and we have never been bumped...haven't sen anyone else get bumped either...
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Old May 1st, 2003, 04:49 AM
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Thanks for all the feedback, very useful. Unfortunately, when I purchased the tickets last year, they assigned me seats. It seems this over booking is very illegal, and unfortunately be controlled by congressional mandates. If a 50-seat connector jet is booked with 65 passengers, a reasonable person would conclude it's for money reasons only. It seems to me that if 50 people paid for the seats, and no one shows up for various reasons, so what? The flight is totally paid for and can fly with the pilot and crew, with 50 empty seats. Once a seat is purchased with someone, it's his/her seat. I afraid more governmental regulations are in order for the benefit of all of us. No wonder our federal governmental bureaucracies have grown so immense...man needs regulation for protection of his own kind. Robert
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Old May 1st, 2003, 04:55 AM
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Robert
I totally agree with you.BUT---you, me,the Pres,anybody, can reserve a seat on an airline without purchasing the ticket.Few exceptions mostly the low fare carriers-JetBlue,AirTran.It can be done.I sat next to guy Monday out of ORD.He had one ticket, and 6 back up reservations!!! His royal hiney was the busiest on the Planet.And he boasted about having all those un-paid for seats!!He just shrugged it off---"The airlines can afford it"....Thats exactly why airlines overbook.Will the BigGuys in the Sky EVER learn from the low fare carriers????Probably not.
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Old May 2nd, 2003, 04:45 AM
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Apologies for the rule quote. I did misread or read too much into it relating to all my misses and bumps due to missed connections. With the overbooking, the earlier you get to the gate to check in the better your chances are of making that flight.
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 08:02 AM
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Some more answers,

BeachBoi,
You are somewhat incorrect about on-line check-in. Once you do the check-in, you do not have to check-in with the gate agent. It is a good idea to be at the gate anout 30 minutes before, because maybe they are looking for volunteers, but no gate agent can release your seat till the final boarding call comes which is usually about 10 minutes before the flight, once you are checked-in.

Robert,
Overbooking is done all the time, and allow me to explain why. Most of us buy the cheaper economy tickets, so if we miss the flight, and depending on the airline, we will loose the ticket or at best have to pay some penalty and use the rest of the money for a future flight on that airline. So, yes your statement that "why do airlines overbook, they have the money for all the seats" may seem right, but it's not. The most expensive coach tickets, or for that matter business of first class, are fully refundable. So many business people, or people that could afford to pay big bucks buy these tickets for different flights, and decide which one is best for them at the last minute. The other tickets are returned for full refund. So you could see how there could be many no-shows on any given flight, and the seats are not paid for. The airlines do their best to forecast any given flight, but as they say, sometimes the s... hits the fan, and everybody does show up. It happens bit more on the last flights of the day. Unfortunately, the time when you purchased the ticket has nothing to do with your ability to get on a plane. First the gate agent will ask for volunteers, and after that it comes down to the cheapest tickets being the first ones bumped. Most major airlines have about 15 different fare classes on any given flight, from the ultra cheap to the very expensive, and the gate agent only has the power to maybe play within 2 to 4 different classes depending on the need of individual paasengers, but they will not take a full fare pax and bump him for the cheap fare pax, just because of the time of purchase.
Sorry about your experience, and I hope Delta stands-up and admits that their system failed, not because of the overbooking, but as you said, they made many promises after, and did not deliver any of them. The restaurant closed, no Delta employee at the airport to see you and others through, and no clear instructions on what to do. In that they did fail, and you should be compansated, but forget about any lawsuits, lawyers, about the overbooking. It's perfectly legal, and you would be just wasting your time.
Good Luck!
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 08:44 AM
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I need to add something to my reply to BeachBoi,

The gate agent can't release your seat for any stand-by till the last call, but you could still get bumped(read my reply to Robert), and you checking in with GA after the on-line checkin will not do anything for you if you have the lowest priced ticket, and they have to bump people.
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 09:20 AM
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I have never heard or seen anywhere that "low fares" have anything to do with bumping in an oversale situation.What are the GA's going to do--go on board and pull people off??Doesnt happen.And if you read the Conditions of Carriage,clearly it will be stated when the "cutoff" occurs.Its not the final call, but 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure.I've talked to hundreds of gate agents.Their sole interest is in accomodating the passengers,not looking at fares travellers paid.Most of the oversold flights I have seen result in enough volunteers coming forward,me included, or somebody checking in for a flight within the 15 minute time frame.
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Old May 3rd, 2003, 09:29 AM
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BeachBoi,
That's exactly my point, in most cases they get this done with volunteers, but if they don't have enough, how do you think they pick? the full fare pax or the low fare pax? As long as everything else being equal(everybody is checked-in, everybody is present), guess who goes first?
Oh, you're right about the 15 minute rule, but on-line check-in has nothing to do with that. the GA still can't release the seat till that time, and you don't have to check-in with GA after you did it at home/office/hotel, or whatever.
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