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Overbooking airline seats should be outlawed Overbooking airline seats should be outlawed
On my way to Miami I got stuck for nearly two days in Newark thanks to poor management by United Airlines (read the full article... Overbooking airline seats should be outlawed

On my way to Miami I got stuck for nearly two days in Newark thanks to poor management by United Airlines (read the full article on flying their “friendly” skies here). I usually enjoy hanging out at the airport, but two days on seven dollar meal vouchers is, even for me, too much. If I have a choice in future I won’t fly United again as we seem to have an ongoing difference of opinion on what “friendly” means. But after spending significant time in their departure lounges waiting for non-existing planes, stewardesses, pilots and first officers there’s one other thing that stuck with me: the screens and announcements informing paying passengers on nearly every flight “This flight is overbooked.”

IMG_9360In every departure lounge there was what resembled a bidding war going on by the airline, trying to pay people to get off the plane. Offers started as low as 50 bucks. They would make announcements over the intercom, “This flight is overbooked. We’ll start with $50.” It sounded like an auction. They stopped making announcements when they got up to $400 – which is close to the amount they’re required to pay (in cash) for bumping someone off a flight. It’s a cost effective deal for them as the airline likely has sold that seat (at least) twice, for more than the $400 they’re willing to give you back.

I hate the concept of overbooking with a passion. Pretty much every airline does it these days, but I think it is daylight theft and should be outlawed. How can anyone think it’s good customer service, let alone morally acceptable, to sell a certain number of seats more than once? We’re not talking about time-sharing an airplane seat here. I’m not a lawyer, but I do know that it’s actually considered a crime to sell something that does not exist. I’m not sure if you could argue in court that selling a single seat two (or more) times is equal to selling something that doesn’t exist, but it would sure make for an interesting class-act lawsuit. Either way – the concept of overbooking is a complete outrage, in my humble opinion.

Luckily there are a few things I can do that offer some degree of protection against this kind of corporate greediness, and I consider it my moral imperative to share them with you. If you’d like to learn more, get yourself a copy of my travel hacking book The Freedom Project – available on Amazon and various finer book sellers worldwide – and be part of the insider club next time you fly.

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Wilko van de Kamp Author

WILKO VAN DE KAMP is the author of #1 international best seller The Freedom Project and several other books and e-books. He's also an award-winning photographic artist, and professional world traveler. His inspiration comes from traveling all over the world. He calls the Canadian Rocky Mountains his home, and the rest of the world his office. He has been capturing our wonderful planet, and it's beautiful inhabitants, for more than half his life. Wilko has spent his life traveling the world to capture awe-inspiring images for those who wouldn't see them otherwise, and to inspire others to embark on their journey of a lifetime. Through his art, writing and appearances as a keynote speaker he enjoys sharing his colorful experiences with the world. Visit him online at