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Guaranteed seat on overbooked flights

Guaranteed seat on overbooked flights

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Old Jul 9, 13, 3:28 pm
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Guaranteed seat on overbooked flights

Hi everyone,

I'm not sure whether this has been posted on this forum already but I do have a potentially simple question:

How can I make sure that I will have a seat on a flight that is possibly overbooked?

I do have a couple of transatlantic flights with stopovers coming up in the next weeks and I need to be on each one of these. I paid for my tickets, so no award tickets used and I am not on elite status with any of the airlines I use (LH and United).
Should I just check-in as early as possible and also, am I guaranteed a seat on the connecting flight if I get issued my boarding pass for that one already at my origin?

Thanks in advance!
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Old Jul 9, 13, 3:32 pm
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Guaranteed seat on overbooked flights

Normally they ask for volunteers , if no one does they will normally not offload families or people that have connections.
Since they offer quite a lot these days to volunteer many will grab the compensation , don't think you have to worry ...
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Old Jul 9, 13, 4:47 pm
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Originally Posted by dtm2013 View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm not sure whether this has been posted on this forum already but I do have a potentially simple question:

How can I make sure that I will have a seat on a flight that is possibly overbooked?

I do have a couple of transatlantic flights with stopovers coming up in the next weeks and I need to be on each one of these. I paid for my tickets, so no award tickets used and I am not on elite status with any of the airlines I use (LH and United).
Should I just check-in as early as possible and also, am I guaranteed a seat on the connecting flight if I get issued my boarding pass for that one already at my origin?

Thanks in advance!
if you already have a booked confirmed paid for ticket and seat assignment and you are worried about IDB, check in as early as possible.


Most likely scenario is they will get volunteers and no one will be IDBed. But if not enough do, then check in as early as possible certainly helps reduce your chances of being selected.
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Old Jul 10, 13, 3:26 am
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Read up on EU261, if it applies to your flights then there are set penalties. Check in early.

Why do you think your flights are overbooked?
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Old Jul 10, 13, 4:28 am
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It is very unlikely that the carrier will bumb you from the flight without any proactive action from your side. An early check-in will minimize a denied boarding even further.
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Old Jul 10, 13, 4:59 am
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Originally Posted by dtm2013 View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm not sure whether this has been posted on this forum already but I do have a potentially simple question:

How can I make sure that I will have a seat on a flight that is possibly overbooked?

I do have a couple of transatlantic flights with stopovers coming up in the next weeks and I need to be on each one of these. I paid for my tickets, so no award tickets used and I am not on elite status with any of the airlines I use (LH and United).
Should I just check-in as early as possible and also, am I guaranteed a seat on the connecting flight if I get issued my boarding pass for that one already at my origin?

Thanks in advance!
Welcome to FT!
It seems you are worrying unnecessarily.
What makes you think your flights are over-booked and that you will lose out?
As others have noted, just check-in on-time and if you get an onward BP for your connecting flight, then you have a seat.
If the flight is over-booked, the airline(s) will look for volunteers.
Worst case, if there are not enough volunteers, the airline will IDB (Involuntarily Deny Boarding) and the carrier(s) have a formula for that.
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Old Jul 10, 13, 5:09 am
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I agree with all that has been said. Your chances of being IDBd are extremely slim.
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Old Jul 10, 13, 7:58 am
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I used to think there was a very precise formula for IDB...something like a computerized slot-rank of all passengers, based on elite status, fare basis, alternate routings available, or other factors. Through a couple of my own IDB's, I've realized that this isn't true.

The #1 way to avoid IDB, IMHO, is to have a seat assignment ahead of time. On FT, we usually state this as "elite status helps you avoid IDB", but my own take on it from seeing how GA's operate is that it's the seat assignment that helps avoid IDB, and by virtue of holding elite status chances are nearly 100% that you do indeed have a seat assignment. Native elites rarely get bumped because they're the ones holding the better seats.

Thus if you already hold a seat assignment, sit back and relax. You aren't getting IDB'ed. But if you don't, then keep rechecking your flights. My IDB's have happened on Delta, so I recheck my flights daily until I have seats. I check shortly after each of their elite upgrade windows and check multiple times a day if necessary in the final days leading up to a flight. This is usually eventually successful.

After that, I'd say the #2 way to avoid IDB is to check-in 24 hours in advance. I've had occasions where I've gotten a single open seat at that point.

It's unclear to me whether a partner elite status has any weight. That might also be a nice-to-have, but GA's seem highly erratic when it comes to processing VDB's and IDB's, so I honestly don't know.

Other random thoughts:
- My hunch is that with Europe involved, they'll try harder for VDB because of the higher penalties for IDB. In the U.S., when I've been IDB'ed I was chipped off an offensively small amount in a check, so it doesn't surprise me that they don't bust their tails with high VDB offers as much anymore.
- Just because you see a blocked-out seatmap doesn't necessarily mean it's an oversell. Even if you see a flight "sell out" (become F0 J0 Y0), that doesn't necessary mean they'll be in an oversell situation when you get to the airport.
- In general, it seems to me that airlines have gotten better at selling out their flights without needing to VDB or IDB dozens of people. ("In general" is my anecdotal experience...I usually listen if they're starting to offer VDB.) Seems like these days they get it within 1 or 2 pax either way, probably because they have better statistical models and much higher change fees on restricted-Y tickets.
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Old Jul 10, 13, 9:42 am
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There's some very good advice above. However, be aware that different airlines handle this differently. You should be able to find the airline's own rules for VDB and IDB in their CoC posted on their respective websites. Some airlines are more likely to use elite status, fare class, check in time, etc. than others. You can certainly expect and insist that they follow their published rules in these situations.

Be aware also that the EU rules apply to all EU based airlines but only apply to USA airlines on flights departing from within the EU. So the rules apply to LH in both directions but only on UA westbound flights departing from Europe.

There are also DOT rules about IDBs, but they're less strict and less generous in general.
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Old Jul 10, 13, 12:09 pm
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Thanks everyone, I guess there's really almost nothing I need to worry about. I just saw an old episode of "Airline" on TV where passengers had to deal with overbooked flights and all of a sudden it made me nervous. I even have seat assignments...
So, again, thanks a lot for all the advice!
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Old Jul 12, 13, 9:02 am
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please bump me

The best insurance would be to include me in your itinerary. That will guarantee that no volunteers will be needed.
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Old Jul 12, 13, 9:23 am
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Originally Posted by dtm2013 View Post
Thanks everyone, I guess there's really almost nothing I need to worry about. I just saw an old episode of "Airline" on TV where passengers had to deal with overbooked flights and all of a sudden it made me nervous. I even have seat assignments...
So, again, thanks a lot for all the advice!
That's Southwest.

Totally different animal from everything we're talking about here.

However, the good news from an IDB perspective is their system is rather simple. If you check-in at precisely 24 hours before your departure, you will get a boarding pass with a letter and a number on it. (Probably something like B15, give or take.) That right there is your best defense against an IDB. You will board the plane with that group and any IDB activity that takes place in the gate area will happen long after you're seated onboard.

Your fare basis does not matter. You can be on the lowest fare, but holding the BP with your number in line trumps a higher fare who checked too late and did not receive a letter/number BP. (e.g., They got a "departure management" card, or whatever Southwest calls it.)

If you know in advance that you will not have data access at T-24 hours, you can pay Southwest a little extra and they'll auto-checkin for you.

Once you have the BP, just make sure you're at the airport and present in the gate area by the required times. See threads about flights that get delayed, then undelayed, and pax who aren't there ontime. Can happen on any airline but there was a particularly long thread about it on the Southwest board a couple months ago.
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Old Jul 12, 13, 10:03 am
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I wouldn't worry, it's not as if there is going to be a situation in which 30 people need to to bumped off the flight. It's generally just a few, and they compensate them very well. The last overbooked flight I was on was BOS to PHX, they need two people to voluntarily take a later flight, they offer was to wait five hours for a mid afternoon flight in first (rather than economy) in addition to a voucher that almost covered the cost of the economy tickets. I wanted to take the offer, but was unable to get to the desk in time!

Anyhow, check in online as early as possible and make sure you're not straggling to the gate, nothing to be concerned about.
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Old Jul 12, 13, 12:44 pm
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Not needing 30 people is a good point: in my experience with Southwest, they tend to hit close to the number very well, within a couple pax at most. A benefit of using similar aircraft and flying so many short/frequent hops has to be a magnificently large amount of statistical data on how people buy and travel those routes.

I have offered up as a VDB on them on occasion...usually my WN flights are quick flights to DAL or MDW where I'd accept a few bucks to wait an hour...and they usually end up not needing me. I've gotten more VDB's over the years off of United's CR2's and CR7's than I ever have off of Southwest's 737's.
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Old Jul 12, 13, 6:31 pm
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There is a far greater chance that your flight will be cancelled due to MX or WX than that you will be IDB. Or, you may get sick or lose your passport. So, IDB is just one of a host of things that can go wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, DOT requires that US carriers and carriers flying to/from the US, have a preset order for IDB. They are required to follow it if they can't find volunteers. Having a seat assignment or boarding early won't change that.

It's unlikely and there's nothing you can do about it. So put it out of your mind.
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