By: AirTravellerPH Staff
You have read many blogs and Facebook status about our local airlines overbooking flights. Some even question the legality of overbooking and why airlines in the Philippines practice it. We read rants of passengers on overbooking saying that they purchased a ticket so they expect to fly. Guess what, overbooking is a normal practice and airlines do really plan them in order to maximize profits.
Overbooking is not only practiced by our local airlines, but by airlines all over the world. It is also not something new, it has been a practice for decades.
Why do airlines then overbook when they know it will be a hassle to the passenger?
Around 5% to 15% of passengers miss their flights or do not show up. This means that for lets say a Cebu Pacific flight with 190 seats all booked, but 29 passengers do not show up or miss their flights perhaps due to the monstrous traffic in Metro Manila, that means 161 passengers will only be flying. If the aircraft will fly with only 161 passengers instead of the 190 all booked, this will only result to losses, especially in an industry where the profit margin is going lower and lower. From a financial point of view, that means more losses for the airline collectively.
"But when you buy a plane ticket, don't you buy the seat?" In terms of advertising, yes you buy the seat but in reality, you buy the journey from point A to point B. That is it.
If airlines are only to book according to the specific number of seats in the aircraft and the airplane flies with a lower passenger load than what was originally booked, the airline with incur losses brought by lost revenue. Hence, this is the reason why airlines do overbook flights. They maximize possible profits. Incase 5% do not show up, then there is still room to fill up those seats instead of scrambling to sell them on the day itself.
What do airlines do when there are passengers who could not board? The first is to ask for volunteers who are willing to move their original schedule, and they are compensated with free travel vouchers while they are booked for the next flight without additional costs on their end. In fact, it is more cost efficient for airlines to give out free travel vouchers to volunteers instead of flying with empty seats, A passenger also has rights incase they are denied boarding due to overbooking depending on the country and region.
Overbooking is not also done all the time. Airlines study passenger statistics, destinations, season, behavior of passengers, and events. During peak season like Christmas and New Year where a lot are travelling, there are small chances that passengers will miss their flights, hence, they will only allocate a very small number of overbooked flights or even none. In Metro Manila, even the traffic is considered, particularly on Fridays, the rainy season, and payday weekends as to how many passengers may miss their flights. Hence, airlines may even allocate quite a number of overbooked tickets even during peak seasons. The number of overbooked tickets really depends on a lot of factors.
Another determining factor as to how many overbooked tickets will be sold are the number of promo fares availed. Passengers who have availed of ultra-low promo fares have a higher chance of missing their flights and the airlines look into how many of these promo seats were availed.
Careful planning is needed into determining as to how many overbooked tickets will be sold, airlines just do not do this overnight. Months before or even a year prior, they have already determined the percentage of overbooking.
So what do you do when your flight is overbooked and you have problems boarding? First of all, do not scream at your ground crew. They have no control of that. Instead, know your rights as passengers. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) have released a chart of your rights which you may exercise anytime in accordance to the law. For your information, here they are.
If your schedule is not too tight or if things are not too urgent, try to volunteer. It is worth being compensated with a travel voucher for free. Don't worry, you will simply be rebooked to the next flight.
Overbooking is a normal practice among airlines. It is being done all over the world and has been done for decades. This is not only in the Philippines, but all over the world.