I am not a big fan of flying in airplanes. I appreciate the time savings, but I could do without the rest of it. Too many people. Too small of a space. And not enough margin for error. I get anxious when flying, and things like COVID don’t help. But like many of you, I do fly a handful of times per year.

The most frustrating part of flying for me is arriving at the gate only to learn my flight has been oversold. You have likely dealt with this. Maybe you gave up your seat for vouchers. Or maybe you were stranded at the airport with no acceptable options.

Imagine this happening in any other industry. You buy a car online and show up at the dealership only to learn that the vehicle you thought you bought was sold to three other people as well. Or you purchase a home from a Realtor and arrive at the closing to learn that your home has two others there who bought it, too. Or, on a smaller level, you stop by to pick up groceries you ordered and are told your milk is no longer available, but the cashier will give you a 25-cent voucher if you come back in a few days.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, this “bumping” or “denied boarding” is not illegal. Airlines are allowed to oversell their scheduled flights “in order to compensate for no-shows.” The DOT site also says some airlines do sell only enough tickets to fill every seat. Would you like to know which airlines those are? I would. Sounds like a great marketing promotion. “We won’t sell your seat to others!”

What if an airline offers to put you on standby on another flight that’s also full? You could be stuck at the terminal for a long time. It happened to me — for two nights at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Other Iowans I got to know in the airport who were in the same situation invited me to join them in renting a car and driving back to Des Moines. I respectfully declined, as I trusted the airline would take care of me. Bad choice. The car crowd beat me home.

Let’s say no passengers are willing to voluntarily give up their seat. Then what? Well, the airline will then force some passengers to forfeit their seats based on their check-in times, the fares they paid, or their frequent flyer status, according to the DOT.  

Bottom line, if you want to avoid being bumped on a flight, make sure you have a confirmed reservation, you check in to your flight on time, and you arrive at the departure gate on time. And be prepared to rent a car, assuming those are not rented out to multiple people, too. 

Have a terrific Tuesday, and thank you for reading.

Shane Goodman
Editor and Publisher
Times Vedette digital editions