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IDB and VDB - how does UA compare to other US carriers?

IDB and VDB - how does UA compare to other US carriers?

Old Apr 11, 17, 9:49 pm
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IDB and VDB - how does UA compare to other US carriers?

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Old Apr 11, 17, 9:54 pm
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This data (in the Air Travel Consumer Reports) is posted monthly by DOT Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (OAEP)
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Old Apr 12, 17, 8:29 am
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UA is cheap when it comes to VDB. They once offered me $100 for a 6 hour later flight. I laughed. (Although I've also gotten $500 for a flight 2 hours later)
Delta regularly offers $400-600 for any VDB and has gone to $800-1000+ in some cases
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Old Apr 12, 17, 8:34 am
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My .02, United seems to ask for the most volunteers, with OK offers (usually right to 3-500). Delta seems to offer the most amount, getting up to the higher amounts (6-800) but doesn't need volunteers as much as United. American offers the least amount (usually 1-200, occasionally getting up to 4-500), and needs the least (thanks to their sub-par on-time performance).
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Old Apr 12, 17, 9:06 am
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Originally Posted by BThumme View Post
My .02, United seems to ask for the most volunteers, with OK offers (usually right to 3-500). Delta seems to offer the most amount, getting up to the higher amounts (6-800) but doesn't need volunteers as much as United. American offers the least amount (usually 1-200, occasionally getting up to 4-500), and needs the least (thanks to their sub-par on-time performance).
I suppose routes and stuff matter, but my experience has been that UA is more in the AA range you quote. I rarely see them hit 500, and they usually start at 100. Certainly the world has changed, but 6-7 years ago it was fairly common to hear 500 at the gate.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 9:25 am
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Originally Posted by TechMarauder View Post
UA is cheap when it comes to VDB. They once offered me $100 for a 6 hour later flight. I laughed. (Although I've also gotten $500 for a flight 2 hours later)
Delta regularly offers $400-600 for any VDB and has gone to $800-1000+ in some cases
In addition to sometimes being cheap, United seems to be unpredictable with what they will offer. In the past (just before the merger), I seem to recall United switched to offering a minimum $400 in most cases and then raising it if necessary. Now they often lowball the initial offer so much that pax get discouraged from even entering into a negotiation with the GA to find an acceptable price. Now I think (hope?) UA will be offering somewhat better VDB amounts, but also hope they will give GAs back some of the leeway they had pre-merger to tailor offers to individual situations. With pre-merger UA, I often had GAs offer F or C seats in addition to a voucher to sweeten the compensation, whereas in the past 3-4 years I have had GAs tell me UA no longer lets them do that (though I think there are some situations still where it happens). Smisek greatly impeded the ability of GAs to handle VDBs and irrops in many, many ways that this is an extreme example of what many pax including myself already experience on a frequent basis when flights are oversold, canceled, delayed, etc.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 9:30 am
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As noted, DOT publishes VDB and IDB statistics monthly and then shows those as a ratio per 10,000 passengers which is much more significant.

If you look at those, the conclusion is likely that there is no good conclusion other than that DL got a good bump in the VDB-to-IDB ratio when it switched from vouchers to cash equivalent (gift cards).

The bottom of the barrel is B6, which has a relatively high overall denied boarding rate for the number of passengers it carries, yet a high percentage of IDB vs. VDB, suggesting that its offers are low-ball.

The voucher issue is a tough one. In a self-selecting crowd such as FT, a $1,000 voucher is $1,000 because the people here travel a lot. But, imagine that you don't travel a lot. Why would you volunteer for a voucher which you likely can't or won't use? Gift cards, on the other hand, cost DL more (a lot less breakage than vouchers), but encourage a broader spectrum of people to take a bump.

All of this makes the analysis a great deal harder.

I also wonder whether more proactive work in a digital era would help out both carriers and passengers. While carriers hate to do VDB in advance of the gate unless it is self-evident that there will be an oversale, using an automated system to solicit volunteers in advance, even with very small offers, might net volunteers who are just as happy to perhaps take an earlier or later flight if they don't have to run around or wait at the airport.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 9:49 am
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At online check in, DL will sometimes tell the customer that the plane "may" be overbooked, and that they may need volunteers. It then asks the customer if they are willing to take compensation for VDB, and how much.

This provides DL two very key pieces of information.
1- It tells DL how many customers are flexible and willing to be VDB if the price is right.
2- it helps keep the VDB costs down, because flexible pax don't know how many other volunteers there are, and what their price is. For example, there may be a pax who would VDB for say $200, but if no one else is volunteering, they will stay quiet and see how big the offer will get to before cashing in. Doing it online ahead of time helps to prevent the pax from waiting for a higher offer at the gate, as the GA can simply call Mr. John
Doe who made the lowest offer to the desk, and ask if he is still willing to accept $200 to be VDB rather than going the auction route.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 9:52 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The bottom of the barrel is B6, which has a relatively high overall denied boarding rate for the number of passengers it carries, yet a high percentage of IDB vs. VDB, suggesting that its offers are low-ball.
The irony here is that B6 don't overbook.

Originally Posted by kavok View Post
At online check in, DL will sometimes tell the customer that the plane "may" be overbooked, and that they may need volunteers. It then asks the customer if they are willing to take compensation for VDB, and how much.
UA do exactly the same, although as has been stated above the starting numbers for compensation are low.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 9:55 am
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Originally Posted by kavok View Post
At online check in, DL will sometimes tell the customer that the plane "may" be overbooked, and that they may need volunteers. It then asks the customer if they are willing to take compensation for VDB, and how much.

This provides DL two very key pieces of information.
1- It tells DL how many customers are flexible and willing to be VDB if the price is right.
2- it helps keep the VDB costs down, because flexible pax don't know how many other volunteers there are, and what their price is. For example, there may be a pax who would VDB for say $200, but if no one else is volunteering, they will stay quiet and see how big the offer will get to before cashing in. Doing it online ahead of time helps to prevent the pax from waiting for a higher offer at the gate, as the GA can simply call Mr. John
Doe who made the lowest offer to the desk, and ask if he is still willing to accept $200 to be VDB rather than going the auction route.

DL is also willing to go quite high - there was one report of a family getting $11k during the fiasco last week after accepting being bumped twice and then just canning their trip. DL also gets creative and offers gift cards (notably AMEX which is virtually the same as cash IMO) and not just funny money designed to maximize breakage like UA does with their vouchers.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 10:10 am
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I thought DL was doing the 'auction' system - where you can tell them how much you want for a DB at checkin, and then they will take the lowest offers. Obviously, if there isnt enough demand based on that, they'd have to go the traditional offer route. Or did they abandon that approach?

UA does offer the overbooking notice at check in, but that just puts you on the list of interested folks - you don't get to suggest an amount, and how the GAs even use that is kind of uncertain.

Coming from a non-hub, so nearly always needing to connect, I'd like to see UA specify which of my segments is overbooked. It makes a difference. If I'm doing SFO-ORD-SFO, it makes a difference. For example, if its the first segment, I'd like to know, especially if its the last flight I can take that day, because if it's the last segment, I'd like to know I'm closer, with just the last hour left to go. An overnight delay out of SFO means I can't get back until mid-afternoon the next day, where if I can get to ORD first, I may be able to DB off the last flight, but still arrive faily early in the morning.

As to proactive DB comp, I don't see that happening except in rare circumstances where they know they overbooked (or in case of capacity downgrade last minute - i.e. 320 goes to 319). There is a difference between a flight being overbooked vs. oversold. The former means more seats are booked than are on the plane, the latter means that more people are checked in then there are seats for. The reason to overbook is because they want to sell tickets to make sure the plane is full, vs. having X% of tickets booked and don't show up, leaving those seats empty. They don't know how many people aren't going to make the flight until at least the checkin deadline, and maybe even later because of potential misconnects. There is a balance, they don't want to pay DB comp. to folks if there are seats left for all pax that show up.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 10:23 am
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i was at iad for iad ewr hkg with ewr hkg in r. they need quite a few volunteers and i inquire as a 1k. they said there is no r space to hkg. i i do vdb, i would fly in Y for a voucher. that is how little they offer. of course. i just dont bother with vdb
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Old Apr 12, 17, 10:25 am
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Originally Posted by lotemblizej View Post
In the past (just before the merger), I seem to recall United switched to offering a minimum $400 in most cases and then raising it if necessary....With pre-merger UA, I often had GAs offer F or C seats in addition to a voucher to sweeten the compensation, whereas in the past 3-4 years I have had GAs tell me UA no longer lets them do that (though I think there are some situations still where it happens).
Yep, right prior to the merger United would offer $400 minimum in VDB vouchers. They were paper and required a trip to the airport to ticket if I recall. The few times I accepted a voluntary reroute prior to the merger, I was often rerouted / rebooked into first after negotiating with the gate agent.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 10:35 am
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Originally Posted by boat9781 View Post
Yep, right prior to the merger United would offer $400 minimum in VDB vouchers. They were paper and required a trip to the airport to ticket if I recall. The few times I accepted a voluntary reroute prior to the merger, I was often rerouted / rebooked into first after negotiating with the gate agent.
Yes, it was the paper vouchers. It didn't necessarily require a trip to the airport - you could book (on the phone, IIRC), and then mail in the voucher to an office in Dearborn, MI IIRC. But you needed a couple of weeks at least before travel to do that. I always went to the airport because if there was ever a piece of mail that was bound to not make it to the destination, my guess is this would be it.

I remember ticketing at the airport though. Not possible to do anymore - it was allowed for a little bit after the merger as they transitioned off those, but then stopped allowing airport agents to ticket.

And yes, you could often rebook into F. I didn't VDB much, but remember pre-merger (or maybe it was shortly after) VDB'ing off the last flight of the night - asked agent if she could maintain my F seat (I was upgraded - CPU), and she booked me into full F class.
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Old Apr 12, 17, 11:15 am
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Originally Posted by docbert View Post
The irony here is that B6 don't overbook.



UA do exactly the same, although as has been stated above the starting numbers for compensation are low.
That is simply not credible. (Not your statement, but B6's statement). While some percentage of B6's denied boardings might be attributed to aircraft subs and defective seats, the numbers are so high that it just can't be true.

Bottom line is that if you are denied boarding, do you really care why it happened?
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