Southwest Plans to Discontinue Flight Overbookings

Apr 27, 2017

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What do you think when you hear of an airline “overbooking” passengers? Chances are — especially given recent events like United’s #BumpGate — you picture passengers being forced off a plane just because an airline is greedy in wanting to make money with the possibility of sacrificing a seat guaranteed for everyone. Since the #BumpGate occurred and the aftermath unfolded (think of United CEO Oscar Munoz’s half-hearted apology), airlines have taken to reacting in their own way.

Today, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly shared the low-cost carrier’s plans to combat an overbooking scenario — by avoiding it altogether.  “The company has made the decision that we’ll cease to overbook going forward,” Kelly said today on CNBC.

In the interview, Kelly said that each airline has to make the decision itself when it comes to overbooking. Even though the airline doesn’t charge change fees, Southwest currently overbooks “very, very modestly,” Kelly said, with the reasoning being to try and fill empty seats so it can keep its fares low. And even though it doesn’t overbook very often as of right now, Kelly said that it’ll be discontinuing the practice altogether very shortly.

Since the #BumpGate incident, Southwest’s Gary Kelly is the first CEO of a US airline to come out and say that it will discontinue overbooking its flights, though JetBlue already doesn’t overbook flights. Others, such as United and Delta, have said that they’ll increase the amount of compensation offered. This is a proactive solution from Southwest, and one that its flyers will surely be happy to hear.

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