Southwest Airlines Will No Longer Overbook Flights

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Following United’s scandal of Dr. Dao being dragged off of a Kentucky-bound United Airlines flight, several airlines have made changes to their overbooking policies. Delta will now offer up to nearly $10,000 for passengers to volunteer their seats for later flights, and United has also followed suit in offering up to $10,000 as well to avoid involuntarily denying boarding to passengers.

However, Southwest Airline has taken a different approach, and will no longer oversell their flights.

Southwest Airlines

Per Southwest Airlines,

Beginning May 8, Southwest Airlines will no longer book flights over capacity as part of our selling process. 

Today, approximately 60,000 flights annually (or about one in 25 flights) experience denied boardings. With this change, the airline anticipates a nearly 80 percent decrease in flights that are pushed into an oversold situation. Of course, overselling a flight is sometimes necessary. Occasional operational issues such as aircraft downgrades, weight restrictions, deadheading Crews with tight connections, Customers of size, inoperative seats, and overweight scenarios will still require our great Customer Service Employees to solicit volunteers. But that will happen much less frequently because we won’t be overbooking Customers in advance. 

Bottom Line

It’s an interesting move on Southwest’s part, and one that can be seen as customer friendly to some, those Southwest loyalists who used to give up their seats may not be so thrilled.

When Southwest oversells a flight, they will refund your ticket, rebook on a later flight, and offer a travel credit. Most airlines only offer the two later of rebooking and a travel credit.

However, as the airline mentioned, there may be some instances where flights will still be oversold, such as to accommodate a deadheading crew (the exact same reason, the reason Dr. Dao was dragged off United), though not overbooking in advance, should greatly reduce it.

Share your thoughts below if you’re supportive of this new Southwest policy, or you’d rather them continue to oversell in hopes of getting vouchers.

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  1. Great news for some people… however, this will result in higher fares for the rest of us. And, Timmy and I wouldn’t have made it home from Atlanta if they weren’t willing to overbook a flight during the recent Delta meltdown.

  2. As someone who has more time than money (at the moment) and is thus willing to be bumped in many situations, this disappoints me. I almost got a $300 voucher on my last Southwest trip…I was somewhat disappointed when they said they didn’t need me and told me to board.

  3. Well, it is good news to reduce bumping, however, I don’t think it can be eliminated from Southwest.
    Due to the customer-friendly Companion Pass, I, as a Pass Holder, can book a flight, for myself, and later on, even as late as a day before the flight, book my Companion on the flight! And, with as many people who have the Companion Pass, I’m sure this happens often. The only way to keep a bumping from happening is to refuse a Companion booking close to flight departure, which I don’t think Southwest is going to do.

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