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American Airlines Rolls out New Plan to Overbook Flights With Less Risk

American Airlines has figured out how to overbook more flights with less risk. The airline is launching a new “Overbooked Flight Automation” system which officials say will allow the airline to reschedule more air travelers booked on oversold flights before those passengers ever even arrive at the airport.

Last summer, American Airlines began testing a new, less painful way of bumping passengers from overbooked flights. Now, the so-called “Pre-removal Denied Boarding Automation” system is being introduced companywide under the new moniker “Overbooked Flight Automation” system.

Simply put, the new technology will allow the carrier to automatically reach more passengers through text, email or the American Airlines mobile app in the hope of getting a select number of passengers to change travel plans in exchange for compensation and thereby avoiding the need to cause a passenger to be involuntarily denied boarding at the gate when a flight is oversold. In truth, the new policy doesn’t differ greatly from efforts the airline was already making to avoid bumping passengers at the gate, but the new automated system will allow the airline to reach a set number of passengers and process their responses almost instantly. Passengers will eventually be able to decide between instantly receiving travel vouchers or miles as compensation for rescheduling travel plans before ever leaving home.

“If we have an equipment swap that may have less seats on the aircraft, and the flight is leaving greater than 24-hours out, we proactively contact customers to see if they would be willing to take an alternate flight, which may include a more desirable routing along with possible compensation,” an American Airlines spokesperson explained when the initial tests of the automated system were unveiled in August of 2018.

While the new automated system might save air travelers a wasted trip to the airport, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker sees nothing but an upside for the airline. Speaking at a Baird 2019 Global industrial Conference on November 6th, Parker told attendees, in comments first reported by the Phoenix Business Journal, that the new technology “allows us to do a better job of generating revenue because we’re able to take more risk on amount of oversells.”


[Featured Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

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Centurion November 22, 2019

This has been at play longer than AA is disclosing. Example from last year when AA had zero non stops from PHX>LHR and I booked AA flight PHX>DFW>LHR so I could fly AA new 77W lay flat in biz. AA would often contact me prior and offer to fly me PHX>LHR on BA partner.

guwinster November 18, 2019

I like it. I typically get to the airport at the last minute, so I assume I miss out most of the time a gate agent makes the "we need a volunteer" call for an overbooked flights. If I was given a choice to be bumped before even leaving my house, there are probably a lot of cases where I would say yes.