Overbooked Flights Will Not Be Common Practice For Southwest Airlines Anymore


Following the infamous incident concerning United after it had overbooked a flight, Southwest Airlines stated that it will stop overbooking flights, which is a normal practice in the industry.

Overbooking flights:

15,000 passengers were bumped by Southwest off flights last year, which is more than the other U.S. airline. It’s a common practice with carriers as they often sell tickets more than seats as sometimes passengers don’t go.

Ever since April 9, when the infamous incident of the passenger being dragged off of a United Airline flight after it was overbooked went viral, overbooking was heavily criticized.

Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest, said on Thursday that his company was considering ending the practice for a “long time” as there have been less and less people not showing for their flights. However, the issue became urgent after the incident concerning United.

Southwest spokeswoman, Beth Harbin said on Thursday that a new system for reservations and a better tool for forecasting will come online in next month which will negate the airline’s need to have overbooking in flights.

Several politicians both in Washington and in other parts of the country demanded that the overselling of flights be banned. Critics stated that if airlines believe they might need seats for their crew members, then they should leave a couple of seats empty.

Revenue impact:

The only US airline which bans overbooking is JetBlue. Despite the incident, United announced last Thursday that it will lower overbooking, but will not abolish it entirely.

Southwest didn’t specify the time frame of their change in policy. However, Kelly stated that the airline might still bump people in instances such as if the airline changes the plane to a smaller one.

When asked if eliminating overbooking will impact revenue, Kelly replies saying that it might have a small impact, but didn’t give exact figures.

Tammy Romo, Southwest’s Chief Financial Officer, stated that cancelling overbooking would decrease costs, as airlines have to reimburse passengers if they give their seats.