Larry Brain - Nov 27, 2023
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Overbooking is common in travel, especially among airlines, hotels, and car rental companies. They sell more tickets or rooms than they can provide, expecting cancellations.

Travel and hospitality providers often use overbooking to increase revenue by anticipating cancellations. For instance, in the airline industry, companies predict that a certain percentage of passengers will not show up for their flight. Therefore, they sell more tickets than available seats. However, while this approach may seem profitable from a business standpoint, it can cause significant disruptions and inconvenience for travelers.

Implications for Travelers

It can be pretty challenging when the number of travelers exceeds the planned capacity, leading to uncomfortable situations. Some passengers may be refused boarding or forced to share a hotel room with others in such cases. These situations can be very frustrating and stressful for travelers, particularly if they haven't been informed beforehand about the overbooking.

Travelers' Rights in the Event of Overbooking

If you find yourself overbooked while traveling, knowing your rights is important. Many airlines are required to provide compensation to passengers who are refused boarding due to overbooking. This can include a full refund or rerouting to your destination.

In the European Union, passengers leaving from a third country on a company plane bound for Europe are also protected by law. For flights within Europe under 1500 km, compensation is 250 euros, while flights over 1500 km have a compensation of 400 euros. For non-European flights between 1500 and 3500 km, compensation is 600 euros.

Strategies to Minimize Overbooking Inconvenience

While overbooking is common in travel, travelers can reduce the inconvenience. These strategies can offer protection and advantages in case of overbooking:

  • Reserving your seat;
  • Favor chartered flights over regular ones;
  • Avoid flights with stopovers;
  • Travel first class or business class;
  • Confirm your reservation in advance;
  • Arrive early at the airport or hotel;
  • Join loyalty programs or use credit cards affiliated with travel programs.

Overbooking is an important strategy for airlines and hotels to ensure profitability. However, they must communicate transparently with their customers and have mechanisms to resolve problems in case of overbooking rapidly. Always prioritizing customer satisfaction is critical because negative experiences can damage a company's reputation.

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